Exploring the role of the record shop in developing communities and music culture

Students should explore the article below and the discussion guide. Learn more by looking at the images and listening to the original source documents contained in the article. Use the article to discuss and answer the Essential Questions below with the class.

Learning Objective

  • Students will explore the role of the record store in developing music communities
  • Students understand how music was discovered historically

Visit the location of A historic local Detroit Record Shop in VR and read about it’s significance to the Detroit music community:
Record Time


“…With the introduction of Record Store Day, originally begun in 2008, the increased attention on record stores has had a noticeably positive effect–both on the record store experience and the marketplace for physical pieces of music.
From 2006 until 2010, year-end new vinyl LP sales (as determined by music industry organizations like the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) and Nielsen Soundscan) climbed from .06 percent to more than 30 percent per year. However, in 2011, the RIAA reported that digital sales of music had passed the halfway mark for the first time. And Nielsen Soundscan (as reported in Billboard) reported that, by late 2012, vinyl album sales rose only 16.8 percent.

But new vinyl sales figures only point to a part of the picture. After all, used record sales are the basic economic unit for independent record stores. And so far, no one has devised or implemented a method for tracking domestic (or global) used vinyl record sales. But to experience a well-known and excellent record store is to understand that their impact extends beyond the everyday noises of the marketplace. The good-to-great ones survive because they continue to provide a wide variety of human needs like social interaction.

Independent record stores have something that the frontier of cyberspace does not: the ability to captivate the senses of a wide diversity of music fans. Unlike the Internet, these physical places bring people together to shop and interact–in person. Often, popular and thriving record stores make every effort to appeal to as wide an audience as possible–from casual browsers to the most passionate record collector.

Record stores function on a variety of different levels. They are so called “third places” where a wide variety of people can interact and where the culture of music can be seen, heard and held in your hands. Record stores thrive as a unique form of community gathering place.

Record stores also serve as cultural showrooms–places where trends are launched and where old and new forms of music can be debated, explored and assimilated. Also, record stores function as magnets for a significant number of local and nationally recognized musicians who seek out musical outposts wherever they can.
To all kinds of people throughout the world, record stores are shrines, important and significant destinations where one’s beliefs in music can be shared and validated. In the multi-dimensional environment of a record store, the universal creative source can be felt, often in stark contrast to mainstream mega-stores or their cyberspace counterparts.

Without independently owned record stores, our world would be a sad place indeed. May those that currently thrive continue. And may future generations come to understand the important and meaningful place that record stores hold in our world’s musical culture. Vinyl Lives!” (via Vinyl Lives)

Record Store Locations Coming Soon…
Explore Buy-Rite Records

Essential Questions

  • Why were Record Stores essential to the early development of the genre of Techno?
  • What is a modern equivalent to the Record Store?
  • How was music discovered 20 years ago compare and contrast that with how music is discovered now?

Next Lesson Plan…

Drum Machines and The birth of Detroit Techno
Wonderland Music (closed 2017)

About David Grandison Jr.

Music Origins Project is curated by David Grandison Jr. This site aims to remove the chronological and geographic barriers faced by music aficionados, students and travelers seeking to learn about the origins of the various musical genre while providing a platform for young writers and content creators to be published so that their voices can be heard.