The craze for vinyl records in India is at a record high. Pun intended.
While digital is inarguably a format that’s here to stay, no one can deny the resurgence of records in recent years. In fact, according to Nielsen, 16.8 million records were sold in 2018 – the crest of sales since Nielsen began tracking the format’s sales in 1991. The figure is also up 14.6% from the previous year, and marks 13 consecutive years of growth for the format.
But why the craze?
Some may say the sound quality is better: Analog does tend to be truer to a song’s original masters (if done correctly). And while the point could be made that the FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) format is a digital equivalent, such versions can be hard to come by and quite expensive. Another contributor to record sales? The appeal! Records have long been an opportunity for artists to showcase the imagery that is inspired by and/or inspires their creativity. Plus, extensive liner notes and other annotations give the artist the ability to converse with his/her audience through more than just his/her music. And that’s what adds to the final layer behind vinyl’s growth – the experience. It’s intimate. It’s involving. And it’s uniquely yours. Every time you pull that record out and drop that needle.
That said, India has quite a fabled history with vinyl, producing its fair share of records, especially during the “Golden Era” of Indian cinema, and thereafter, through the influx of top-selling foreign acts. But nowadays, many people have packed up their records or even lost them. So, for those looking to get back into collecting, or for the newbies looking to start, where in India can you go to get those 33s, 45s, or 78s? Here’s a list of five record shops sure to satisfy your want for wax.
Mahim West, Mumbai
The Revolver Club has quickly become synonymous with records in India, leading record sales and record-related events in the country. If you’re an age-old collector or just starting your collection, The Revolver Club has something in store for you. Primarily selling 12-inch LPs, from the contemporary to the classics, mostly new and some used, and across multiple genres, you’re sure to find something you like here. They even have high-end audio equipment they sell and install to ensure the audiophile within you is satisfied. Pay a visit to the store and say hello to Jude, the owner. You’ll be in for a fantastic conversation on art, business, politics, life, and more. All while listening to and picking up your favorite LPs in a cozy, welcoming environment.
Hauz Khas Village, Delhi
Nestled in the alleys of the culturally-active, Hauz Khas, Pagal Records is just like it sounds, pagal. Eccentric art adorns the walls and a fun-loving, carefree owner, Joe, helms the store. Half-Indian, half-Italian, Joe, whose full name is Joginder, has the goal to share his love for music, in its classic format, with everyone that meets him. Smaller than your local coffee shop but large in its collection, Pagal Records is the perfect place to pick up used but high-quality 12-inch and 7-inch records, from all around the world, at an affordable price. But he’s even got some wonderful rarities in his collection if you dig deep enough! Be sure to visit Pagal Records for a memorable, vinyl discovery experience serviced by an awesome owner.
When speaking of second-hand records in Delhi, it’s impossible to miss out on New Gramophone House. Located on the main road in Chandni Chowk, right near the gurudwara, New Gramophone House has a storied history. Dating back to the 1930s in Pakistan, the owner of the store moved his shop to Chandni Chowk after the partition, making it one of the oldest, if not the oldest record store in India. It was also selected as one of the fifty most noteworthy record shops in the world, stocking rare Indian and Western classics, making it a popular destination for both Indian and foreign vinyl enthusiasts. Head here for a diverse collection of some of the greatest artists of all time, especially Indian.
M.G. Road, Bangalore
As one of the oldest record stores in Bangalore at almost 40 years old, Ram’s Musique is a staple in the Bangalorean vinyl community. The store houses over 2,000 records, ranging from legendary western rock bands to North Indian and Carnatic classics. At one point in time, long queues used to run out the doors when new albums were released. While the number of customers may have decreased, the owner’s love for music has not. Doors are open to all those looking to find great, old music at great, low prices.
Connaught Place, Delhi
If you can’t make it to Old Delhi or to the rocky roads of Hauz Khas Village, you’d surely be able to make it Connaught Place in Central Delhi, where Radio & Gramophone House is located. Established in 1951, you can find many used Indian classics here from individual instrumentalists and composers to famous Bollywood films. While in the minority, records from foreign artists are also on display. If you’re short on time but looking for a good find, visit Radio & Gramophone House.
Of course, other than these reputed sellers with physical storefronts, you have hundreds of individual sellers putting up their collections for sale, from time to time, at various events around the country. And you can even find records on Discogs and Amazon – the former being a popular option with a large collection while the latter is a bit more limited and costly. And if you’re looking for recommendations on which turntable to play your records on, TechRadar has a great list of choices for 2019.
Nevertheless, if you’re digging for vinyl records in India, you’re sure to come by something you like. It’s just a matter of time, location, and a little bit of luck.
And if you do happen to find some place new and noteworthy, let us know in the comments below. Together, we can grow India’s vinyl culture to record heights. Pun intended. Again.