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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2018 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Happy Record Store Day!

A Superconductor Guide to Getting Your Groove On in New York City.

Today is Record Store Day, when the music industry and (more importantly)  music vendors focus their energies on the few venues left where you can still purchase music in its physical form, be it on vinyl or compact disc. 

With the closings of most of the big chain stores (not to mention a lot of the little specialty shops) there aren't too many places left. Here's my list of places to buy recorded classical music in New York City. Yes, Barnes and Nobles still sells music too (at two locations in Manhattan) but these places are a lot more fun.

12 W. 18th St.
This storefront on W. 18th St. is Mecca for music-lovers in New York City. Academy has an extensive inventory of classical CDs, LPs, and even a small section of cassettes. Inventory subdivided into baroque, opera, boxed sets and modern music, and they also sell rock, jazz, and DVDs.
Music Nirvana: the shoppers and shelves at Academy Records.
Academy is also a good place to sell your CDs, DVDs and vinyl, but vinyl purchases are arranged by appointment. Owners of large collections should call the shop to set up an appointment with their buyer. Your music must be in excellent-to-mint condition for it to be sold. 
Vinyl junkies should also check out Academy Annex in Williamsburg, which carries an astonish stock of 25,000 LPs. Academy Annex is located at 96 N. 6th St.

Formerly Gryphon Records, this small, cheerful shop at 233 W. 72nd used to exist in the shadow of a massive branch of HMV. Now, it's one of the few record stores remaining in the neighborhood. Westsider has a modest inventory of CDs in the front, with some unusual, out-of-print opera boxed sets popping up from time to time. They have an enormous stock of vinyl towards the back, and a respectable selection of books about music. Their buying is done at the parentshop, Westsider Books, located at 2246 Broadway.

This enormous emporium plunked down into the middle of Park Row in 1971, right by City Hall. Following the deaths of Borders, Virgin MegaStore, Tower Records, HMV, and Sam Goody/Musicland, (not to mention Circuit City, the Record Factory, Nobody Beats the WIZ, Record Hunter and Record Explosion!) At 23 Park Row, J&R is the last surviving major CD store in New York. Their classical and opera department (located upstairs and to the back at ) has knowledgeable employees and a wide selection of imports. Of course, the block-long chain of J&R shops also sells computers, iPods, blenders, and even electric guitars.

Not enough people know about the Juilliard Store, which has gone from being tucked away above Alice Tully Hall to being hidden in the nether regions of the conservatory building. In fact, it's  around the corner from Alice Tully Hall across from the Gourmet Garage.. Although their first business is sheet music, the Store carries in the neighborhood of 5-10,000 CDs, making them the only surviving store around Lincoln Center to buy recorded orchestral and chamber music. Apparently, the closings of Tower Records and Barnes and Nobles' Lincoln Center branch has been good for business.

Recently renovated, this snazzy shop in the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House (it's past the ticket windows) has a pricey selection of Met merch (including jewelry, opera glasses,  the infamous wooden magnetic Ring desk toy and a flashy plastic LED light-up Ring of the Nibelung.) 

Behind all the ricketa-racketa is a good (if pricey) CD and DVD shop. They ONLY have operas, on CD and video with a selection of out-of-print titles pressed by ArchivMusik. A concierge service (launched last year) will order out-of-stock titles for patrons, in connection with Amazon.com. Open during the week, the shop closes during that evening's opera performance--usually after the first intermission. A discount of 10-20% is offered for members of the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

And one more...
In addition to selling furniture, clothing and house-hold goods, this chain of charitable institutions located around New York has quietly become a good place to buy vinyl and CDs. Selection varies widely, but the occasional classical gems can be found. They have a "no returns" policy, so caveat emptor. But for prices as low as $1 per CD, what do you really have to lose?

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.