The Top 10 Cities Keeping Vinyl Music Alive

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The Top 10 Cities Keeping Vinyl Music Alive

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While it may be the case that video killed the radio star, digital music has yet to slay the record store. True, Sam Goody is gone and the music section at Best Buy is nearly non-existent. But with the help of DJ culture and analog music aficionados, the record shop has lived on. Vinyl sales actually grew by 52% in the U.S. last year, according to Nielsen.

In celebration of Rex Manning Day today (a fictitious holiday referenced in the cult classic Empire Records) and National Record Store Day on April 18, Redfin and Foursquare, a city discovery app, teamed up to find out which cities have the best options for record collectors. We looked at over 60 cities across the U.S. to find the areas with the most record shops per capita. Then we spotlighted which record shop has the highest ratings on Foursquare in each of the top 10 metropolitan areas. We also asked local Redfin agents to tell us why these cities are great for music lovers.

If music is a big chunk of your budget, there’s good news: Homes in many of these cities are affordable, falling below the $275,500 U.S. median home price. And just in case it’s hard for you to choose between a roof over your head or more sweet, sweet music, we calculated how many new LPs at $20 each you could buy with the median price of a home in each city.

“For the vinyl-obsessed or casual listener, record shops are a sign of a vibrant community culture,” according to Record Store Day co-founder Carrie Collington. Just ask Travis Thomas, a Redfin real estate agent in Omaha: “Knowing there’s a great bar, theater, restaurant and a good record store nearby all play into people’s decision about what neighborhood they’re going to settle in.”

Ready for the vinyl countdown? Here are the top 10 cities keeping vinyl music alive:

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1. Portland, OR

  • Highest Rated Record Shop: Music Millennium in Kerns
  • ZIP Code with the Most Record Shops Per Capita: 97214 (Buckman, Richmond, Sunnyside)
  • Median Home Price in 97214: $445,200 (22,260 records)

“Portland has an an impressive music scene, and Music Millennium is a staple record shop,” noted Matthew Brennan, a Redfin real estate agent in Portland. “It’s one of those special places that still provides the intimate experience of an in-store performance, with a good mix of local and more famous big-name musicians frequently passing through.There are a few other records shops in the city that have even started their own labels and provide local bands with opportunities to get their music out there. In the Buckman neighborhood just next to Kerns, an old high school was recently converted into a music venue called Revolution Hall. It’s a great place to check out all the amazing music being made in Portland right now and just one of the many places in the city to see live music.”

2. Durham-Chapel Hill, NC

  • Highest Rated Record Shop: CD Alley in Chapel Hill
  • ZIP Code with the Most Record Shops Per Capita: 27510 (Carrboro, Wildwood Springs)
  • Median Home Price in 27510: $207,500 (10,375 records)

“There’s a social revolution happening in Durham, and the music scene is a large part of our community’s revitalization,” explained Andrew Stewart, a Redfin real estate agent in Raleigh-Durham. “Ever since Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) arrived, we’ve attracted musicians and bands of all kinds. While we embrace innovation, we also appreciate the past. It’s not uncommon to see music fans of all ages paging through boxes full of records searching for their favorite albums or musicians on vinyl.”  –

3. Las Vegas, NV

  • Highest Rated Record Shop: Zia Record Exchange in Paradise
  • ZIP Code with the Most Record Shops Per Capita: 89104 (Winchester, Downtown)
  • Median Home Price in 89014: $192,000 (9,600 records)

“Vegas is well-known for hosting the best DJs in the world and extended residencies for the biggest names in pop, but the local music scene here is really underrated,” said Kyle Harris, a Redfin real estate agent in Las Vegas. “There are music venues and record shops all over the place so artists can make a decent living. Zia Record Exchange is right by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the students there are big supporters of all things music, so I’m not surprised it’s at the top of the list.”

4. Omaha, NE

  • Highest Rated Record Shop: Homer’s Music in Old Market
  • ZIP Code with the Most Record Shops Per Capita: 51503 (Council Bluffs)
  • Median Home Price in 51503: $181,500 (9,075 records)

“Homer’s is beloved around here, and if that’s where people go to buy music, they go to The Slowdown to see it,” explained Travis Thomas, a Redfin real estate agent in Omaha. “Cafe by day, bar by night, it was started by Saddle Creek Records, located next door, and it’s become the preeminent local music venue. Of course, you can’t talk about Omaha music without mentioning 311, who formed and paid their dues here before they made it nationally.”

5. Milwaukee, WI

  • Highest Rated Record Shop: Exclusive Company in Brady Street
  • ZIP Code with the Most Record Shops Per Capita: 53214 (West Allis)
  • Median Home Price in 53202: $216,900 (10,845 records)

“Milwaukee is a fantastic music city, with Summerfest being a worldwide attraction for music lovers,” said Ashley Dietrich, a Redfin real estate agent in Milwaukee. “When it’s not festival season, music fans have many eclectic neighborhoods to choose from with trendy shops, restaurants and vinyl stores like the Exclusive Company to fill their music needs. The East Side Music tour, which features musical acts in coffee shops, restaurants and bars every November, has gotten so popular that it has been renamed the ‘Milwaukee Music tour’ to account for all the new neighborhoods that have joined.”

6. TampaSaint Petersburg, FL

“Music is everywhere in Saint Petersburg, especially downtown. Street musicians will wander around the streets playing instruments on the street to kill time between gigs at coffee shops,” noted Brian Walsh, a Tampa estate agent. “The downtown neighborhood used to just be office buildings, but locals made a huge effort to breathe some life and culture back into it. Local business owners opened coffee shops, art galleries, tattoo parlors, bars and restaurants. Now downtown is synonymous with music and the arts. Daddy Kool Records is definitely a hot spot where locals get their concert tickets.” – Brian Walsh, Tampa Redfin agent

7. Madison, WI

  • Highest Rated Record Shop: Strictly Discs in Dudgeon-Monroe
  • ZIP Code with the Most Record Shops Per Capita: 53703 (Tenney-Lapham, Marquette)
  • Median Home Price in 53703: $280,000 (14,000 records)

“Madison has always had a strong music community, and vinyl collectors are certainly a part of that,” explained Brian Callahan, a Madison real estate agent with Redfin. “There’s a spectrum of music tastes here, and its hard to generalize, but you’ll see everything from people who grew up loving music searching for their favorite Deep Purple record to young UW students seeking old jazz albums. The ‘Monroe Street Festival’ is usually circled on vinyl-lovers calendars, because Strictly Discs will put a crazy number of boxes full of albums outside of their store for fans to page through.”

8. New York, NY

  • Highest Rated Record Shop: Generation Records in Greenwich Village
  • ZIP Code with the Most Record Shops Per Capita: 11211 (Williamsburg)
  • Median Home Price in 11211: $535,000 (26,750 records)

“The Village has been the center of alternative, progressive culture in New York since the early 1900s,” said Nick Boniakowski, a North New Jersey real estate agent. “Countless artists and musicians have lived here over the decades. The neighborhood holds the few remaining blocks of gritty city culture that remain in Manhattan, as housing prices continue to rise. The area has managed to stay old school because community activists have fought to keep the bohemian spirit alive. It’s still a really cool area that attracts a lot of young people and can give you a glimpse into the past.”

9. Philadelphia, PA

  • Highest Rated Record Shop: Main Street Music in Manayunk
  • ZIP Code with the Most Record Shops Per Capita: 19147 (Queen Village, Bella Vista)
  • Median Home Price in 19123: $350,000 (17,500 records)

“Philly is an amazing music city and it has been for a long time,” said Blakely Minton, a Philadelphia real estate agent. “In the ’50s Dick Clark and his American Bandstand filmed here, and in the ’70s Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and The Philly Sound recording studio brought soul, funk and disco to the nation. We have world-class music venues of various sizes like World Cafe Live, Boot and Saddle, The Electric Factory and Kung Fu Necktie. We’re home to amazing musicians from all generations like Chubby Checker, Joan Jett, Eve … the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Our music scene is as rich and diverse as they come.”

10. Austin, TX

“There’s no denying that Austin is a music mecca, and Clarksville, home to Waterloo Records, is a great neighborhood if you are music lover,” said Andrew Vallejo, a Redfin real estate agent in Austin. “I personally live right by Clarksville and, like many other locals, I frequently head over to Waterloo Records for their regular roster of live in-store performances. I even saw Macklemore play there three years ago, right before his career exploded. The other great thing about this neighborhood is that it’s in close proximity to Austin’s most famous music festivals. I can walk to both Austin City Limits and SXSW and I never miss a year! The opportunities to discover new and independent music in this city are unparalleled.”

*After another look, some ZIP codes that should have been on top were overlooked. Changes have been made to crown the true neighborhood vinyl champions in each city.

Methodology

For this report, Foursquare evaluated 60 major metropolitan areas to come up with the 10 that have the most record shops per capita, then found one ZIP code in each area with the highest concentration. Redfin pulled sales information (New York sales information was pulled from the U.S. Census) for the past year to find the median sale price of homes in each of the 10 ZIP codes, then translated that median price to records using $20 as the average record price. To find the highest-rated shop in each metro area, we used Foursquare’s rating system. Foursquare ratings are numbers, not stars, and take multiple factors into account including likes, dislikes, popularity, loyalty, local expertise and user tips.

What shop will you go to on Record Store Day? Tell us on Facebook, Twitter, G+, Instagram or in the comments below.

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