How to Start a Vinyl Record Business

by Nicholas Pell ; Updated September 26, 2017
Woman shopping for albums in record store

While the days of vinyl records as the dominant format for music are long gone, some people much prefer the sound and aesthetic of vinyl records. CDs and MP3 files cannot fully replace the warm tones of vinyl records or the large artwork that comes with them. Further, many vinyl record businesses cater to niche music markets such as punk, hip-hop and vintage jazz. Whatever your tastes, starting your own vinyl record store requires the same process.

Find a distributor. To sell vinyl records, you will need to hook up with a distributor. If you choose to make your vinyl record business a niche business catering to a specific genre of music, there are probably a few labels you already know about. Contact them about wholesale prices and distribution. If you are looking for a more general inventory, look at prices of record wholesalers on the Web.

Build your inventory. Think carefully about who your customers are and what they will want to buy. Try to get outside of yourself and see what people are looking to buy. Go to live music events and talk to people about what they are listening to. Developing an ear for what will be hot six months from now is difficult, but it begins with listening to your potential customer base. Purchase records recommended to you, but also have a good stock of classics you know will sell.

Set up a bank account and online payment service. Setting up a bank account for your business makes it easier when tax time comes around. Further, in the digital age, you'll want to have a website and do some selling online. Set up an online payment account and connect it to your vinyl record business's bank account.

Start selling at live events. Many record stores start out as just one guy with a box full of mixed new and used records. This is a great way to dip your toe in the water, see what the market it is like, and get the word out about your business. Talk to local music clubs and bars about setting up your inventory at one of their events.

Create a website where you can advertise and sell your merchandise. You can also have a music blog on your site to generate traffic and interest in your merchandise.

Find a storefront. A physical storefront is going to eat up a lot of capital. However, with the money you make selling online and at live events, you can accrue a nice nest egg for your permanent store. Look for a place that gets lots of foot traffic. Begin with small square footage, because retail rents are high.

Furnish your store. Look for cheap or free store fixtures such as glass cases, plexiglass frames for rare or interesting records, and record bins.

About the Author

Nicholas Pell began writing professionally in 1995. His features on arts, culture, personal finance and technology have appeared in publications such as "LA Weekly," Salon and Business Insider. Pell holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

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