The iconic music store is back, just in time for the resurgence of vinyl.
14 years after shuttering most of its brick and mortar locations in the US and abroad, Tower Records appears to have caught a second wind.
Earlier this week the legendary music store relaunched as an online shop. And it’s already filling the digital shelves with essential wax, CDs, cassettes, and merch. They’ve also revived their in-store zine, Pulse!, as a spotlight for musicians and standout releases. According to the Bay Area’s ABC7, the announcement of a relaunch was initially going to take place at this year’s SXSW festival, which was canceled (along with virtually every other festival,) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report notes there was also going to be pop-up installations at the festival and across the country, but those were obviously sidelined as a clear risk in the pandemic era. And so, a soft digital relaunch it is.
Tower Records was founded by Russ Solomon in Sacremento, CA in 1960. It grew in popularity and expanded into a chain soon after, opening nearly 200 locations in the US alone. In 2006, the company filed for bankruptcy and liquidated its inventory. In Japan, however, it only continued to grow as an independently run and owned subsidiary that was entirely unaffected by the stateside closures. To this day, there are more than 80 Tower Records locations all over Japan and it remains the country’s leading retailer of vinyl and CDs.
For a crash course on the history of Tower Records, you can watch Colin Hanks’ excellent documentary, All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records, which is available to stream for free on Youtube.