The age of the music franchise has waned around the world, and even more so in Singapore. In a country where big brand names like HMV and Tower Records, alongside homegrown enterprises like Sembawang Music Centre and Gramophone once made their mark with spacious stores based across shopping malls all over the island, all have shuttered — leaving behind a gaping void for consumer-friendly emporiums that once made CDs king.
It’s barely a loss for local music listeners, though, as the prominence of independent record stores have breathed new life into a local tradition of physical media — specifically, vinyl records. Just like the rest of the world, the format has had a noticeable growth in sales in Singapore, even if it’s a comparably niche market.
These stores carry on a long-standing tradition established by forebearers like Roxy Records and Da Da Records (the former still active today), and they’re catering to growing and diversified customer bases.
Some have acutely incorporated live music, F&B and other services — record stores where you can get a cup of coffee (Choice Cuts Goods + Coffee), a cocktail (White Label Records) or a brand new haircut (The Barbershop Music) — while a place like Retrocrates, which deals mainly in rock and pop, offers a comfy and isolated refuge for jazz purists within their premises, named The Jazz Loft.
The proliferation of a vinyl culture has also allowed these stores to foster a communal appreciation for the format, culminating in a yearly Record Store Day (RSD) tradition.