We're gonna make a bold claim, which is that New York is the greatest city in the world for music—there is simply nowhere else that has our storied history (just think of all those classic NYC songs) and incredible live music scene. And then of course, there are our record stores—from downtown fave Other Music to the revamped Halcyon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Discovering that rare LP in a brick-and-mortar music store is a thrill you just can’t replicate online (we know—we’ve tried). Whether you’re a serious vinyl junkie or casual collector perusing LPs on Record Store Day, you'll find a truckload of exciting gems at these genre-spanning record stores NYC crate-diggers swear by.
RECOMMENDED: Best places for shopping in NYC
Best vinyl record stores in NYC
The Brooklyn offshoot of this East Village rare-vinyl mecca followed the pricing-out trend and migrated from Williamsburg to Greenpoint, where its vast selection of LPs has more room to breathe. The collection’s impressive for both its breadth and depth—it’s the uncommon kind of shop where you can easily walk out with a bag of painfully obscure soul 45s and out-of-print metal albums as well as low-priced ’70s classics and the latest from that buzzworthy band your friend just blogged about. Oh, and the steady stream of hip shoppers on sunny Saturday and Sunday afternoons matches the great people-watching in nearby McCarren Park. (Don’t worry, even when it’s crowded, the place is so damn spacious that there’s plenty of room to sift.)Read more
Local label Captured Tracks has been setting indie rock’s agenda for eight years with a roster of heavyweight acts such as NYC faves Mac DeMarco, Perfect Pussy and DIIV. And in 2013 it opened this small, light-filled garden-level space, tucked away on a residential Greenpoint block. The store stocks its own releases (check out the debut LP from local power-pop upstart EZTV), as well as those by legendary New Zealand pop imprint Flying Nun and fellow Brooklyn tastemakers Sacred Bones, alongside a wide-ranging selection of used vinyl and cassette tapes. The staffers are always decidedly chill and approachable, to boot.Read more
Pals Jeremy Freeman and Jason DeBeck (known by their DJ names Scratch Famous and Selector JD, respectively) built their spinning careers off a shared obsession with reggae that borders pathological. And since 2005, they’ve operated a crowded yet meticulously organized retail outlet for their fixation on the Lower East Side, where Jamaican-music aficionados can peruse a 100,000-plus-sleeve-strong collection that delves deeply into a whole spectrum of flavors, from ’60s ska to the latest dancehall drops.Read more
Originally housed in the same building as the trendsetting Bushwick DIY space Silent Barn (and offering on-site haircuts, because why not?), this little boutique is notable for its outsize eccentric streak. Staples like Bowie and Black Sabbath comfortably cohabit with more outré stuff like horror-movie soundtracks, psychedelic raga LPs and VHS copies of a Slayer tour movie. The oddball inventory only emphasizes the feeling that you’ve stumbled across the garage sale of some heroic vinyl-collecting weirdo.Read more
This dance-music–oriented shop has moved around a lot since it first unveiled in Carroll Gardens in 1999. The latest incarnation, attached to the Williamsburg superclub Output, has a deep selection of beat-heavy titles—including a formidable selection of rare house, hip-hop and drum ’n’ bass 12-inches—plus a performance space decked out with a lustworthy Funktion-One sound system. Come nighttime, the café slings Roberta’s pizza along with cocktails designed by Output’s resident mixologists.
Photograph: Courtesy Halcyon (Instagram: @halcyon_nyc)
Some shops make being a record geek seem like a competitive sport—there’s a lot of truth to the record-snob cliché depicted in High Fidelity—but this Bushwick spot has earned glowing praise for its friendly customer service and inclusive vibe. Along with a selection of used vinyl that’s heavy on vintage rock and jazz, the store offers live music, comedy shows, free beers and, on special occasions, burgers and hot dogs grilled up by the staff.Read more
Over the past 20-plus years, Other Music has acquired a mostly unfair reputation for its staff’s snobbishness and a much more well-deserved one for its ability to stay on the bleeding edge of music tastes. The store champions under-the-radar jams, from indie singer-songwriter Frankie Cosmos to vintage Hawaiian funk, that are bound for cult status and will probably be inescapable in your ’hood’s coolest bar six months from now. Make sure to peruse releases from its similarly well-curated label, like II by back-to-basics retro rockers Nude Beach.
A vinyl hunter’s wet dream (and a claustrophobe’s nightmare), this West Village emporium feels a little like a clown-car–style experiment to see exactly how many LPs you can fit into a tiny space. Befitting the store’s Bowie-nodding name, the selection covers a whole range of glam, punk and assorted historical U.K. youth trends, but you’ll find a little bit of everything crammed in there after digging long enough.Read more
When this sprawling, 15,000-square-foot offshoot of the legendary London retailer hit town in 2013, hard-core record geeks called it a tourist trap for the sightseeing mobs that had descended on Williamsburg. But it’s easy to forget the criticism when you’re browsing its expansive, genre-crossing collection, which is large enough to take you back to the glory days of the Tower Records era. Keep the party going in the double-decker venue in the back—constructed out of recycled shipping containers—which spotlights indie-rock staples (Fruit Bats) as well as next big things (Cullen Omori).Read more
An institution not just in NYC but around the world, Turntable Lab is a one-stop shop for everything a DJ-culture connoisseur could ever want—from turntables and production gear to streetwear and collectible vinyl toys, like a deluxe action figure tribute to the late J Dilla. The spot focuses on new releases and reissues (sorry, dusties diggers), but there aren’t many places where you can pick up Detroit techno white-label singles along with a deadstock tape copy of De La Soul is Dead.Read more
Iconic music videos filmed in NYC
We live in an incredibly photogenic city. So it’s no surprise that, as with films and, you know, photographs, New York has served as the backdrop for some of the most iconic music videos. From Michael Jackson’s 1987 video for “Bad” (directed by Martin Scorsese) to A$AP Rocky’s 2015 video for “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2,” artists have and continue to shoot the videos for some of their biggest hits in NYC. Watch our absolute favorites below, and be sure to check out the best movies set in NYC neighborhoods for more Gothamcentric cinema.Read more