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Beats in the Bag: Record Shopping in Melbourne

26 Nov 2018

In this age of music streaming services, it can seem time-consuming to pound streets hunting for songs. For some, though, it’s a favourite pastime.

Some look at the vinyl hunter as a relic from another time, caught up in the nostalgia of a past era. The truth is that despite the decline in the number of physical record stores at cities around the world, sales of albums have soared. Statistics from the USA show vinyl sales have grown for 10 years straight – in 2015, 12 million records were sold in the country.

In Melbourne, the same trend seems to be occurring. There are far fewer chain record stores, but plenty of independent dealers trading in new and used LPs.

In the city, you can’t go past the huge selection and excellent staff at Basement Discs [25 Block Place]. Old-school styles – folk and blues, for example – tend to be a specialty, but be prepared to waste an hour or two flicking through the offerings.

Fitzroy’s shopping strip, Brunswick Street, has a couple of gems: Polyester Records [387 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy] stocks vinyl from indie bands from around the world, while across the road Poison City Records [400 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy] specialises in punk and hard core. If you’re looking for pre-loved albums, Dixons Recycled [414 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy] has you covered.

In nearby Gertrude Street, devotees of funk and soul head to Northside Records [236 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy]. More than simply a record store, though, it’s also a music label, releasing material from some of the Melbourne’s grooviest bands. Similar styles, along with hip-hop and electronic, can be found in the depths of Campbell Arcade at Wax Museum Records [2 Degraves Street], a favourite with the city’s DJs.

The southside is home to a few specialist stores. St Kilda’s Mainly Jazz [94 St Kilda Road] is fairly self-explanatory, while Greville Records [152 Greville Street, Prahran] gets fortnightly shipments of imports from the US and UK in a whole lot of genres.

For those wanting to see a free gig while they’re shopping, Record Store Day, which began in North America in 2007, celebrates the culture of independent record stores. There’s a huge list of what’s going on this year on Saturday 16 April on the website.

For a full list of record stores, the Diggin’ Melbourne website is an excellent resource, with maps ready to download.