How to discover new music in a record store?

Nowadays, there are unlimited amounts of discovering new music without getting off your couch. However, collectors should not neglect the power of going offline for your newest additions to the selection.

Everybody knows the obvious practice of buying records by admired artists or covers that are really appealing, but what are other ways to decide on your next record buy?

Both beginner spinner’s, as well as seasoned selectors, will find some good info below.

Prepare yourself before

How to familiarize myself with my record music niche?

Start with digging through your current record collection. Read the credits on the record cover.

Which record companies or music labels do you see coming back? It is an almost guarantee you’ll like other work coming from them. For example, do you already have some work from Giegling? Don’t be afraid to experiment with one of their older or newer releases.

You probably already know which musicians you enjoy, however, give the smaller artists featuring on the album a try. Next, look for the producers and sound arrangers that have worked on the records. Even look for songwriting credits. Chances are you’d like work from the people working on other things.

Lastly, what genres and song patterns do you like? Do you like a saxophone section in lo-fi music on songs that are at least 8 minutes long? Plainly try to dig for only these specific characteristics.

Which record store am I going to?

Record stores often are specialized in certain genres and niches. Accustom yourself to what record boutique you are going to. What is this record store known for? Does it have a listening station? Ask around with fellow record diggers or have a look online.

Next, see if there are certain events happening around you? Is there a sales weekend at a certain record collection? Are there fairs happening around me in the near future? Make sure to not miss record digging opportunities.

Set a budget aside for discoveries

Can you set aside a budget per month for records that will pull you into new rabbit holes? If you have a determined amount to spend on experiments, you’ll definitely be more appealed to go beyond your front line of music choices.

We would advise starting with a relatively small budget to see if you like discovering new music this way. Your budget could go hand in hand with how many times you rinse and repeat.

Be clever in the store

Which section should I go to?

If it is your first time going to a store, we would advise starting with the new arrivals section in the store. The new arrivals often will quickly give a feel of what the boutique is about, what niches it is specialized in, or what selectors it attracts. Depending on how surprised you are, you could determine how long you should spend on the other sections in the store. This should not be a hard rule though.

The benefit of new arrivals is that you have a glimpse of the store’s advised selection, of the best they have recently. A drawback is that these are often the most expensive and will quickly burn up your budget.

The section per genre is a productive way to discover new music fast. It will already make your journey through a genre easier and give inspiration for trends you see on the credits on the cover.

Proceed with a little caution though, it could be that some of these never left the new arrival section and thus often were not good enough for the connoisseurs of the store.

If you arrive at the used, crate-digging section, you should be the most careful but you can find real jewels here. For various reasons, people sell their vinyl to a store.

If you are lucky and a collector from 10 years ago who has gotten other priorities just brought in a record treasure.

What tips should I keep in mind?

Always try to go with something that you like. Do you have a listening station in the store? Use it. Do you have a good gut feeling about the artist and cover image? Experiment. You’ll learn from your mistakes and you’ll enjoy the process of getting better at this.

Talk with the store owner or staff. Explain what you like and see if they have any recommendations. Try to become acquainted or friends if you’re planning to return. Who knows that one day they’ll call you up to come immediately because a retired DJ has brought in his full second-hand collection.

Respect the discovery process. Don’t go into a record store or to a fair if you don’t have the time. Have other people with you? Make sure they like doing it. If you get distracted from the discovery process, you could miss out on good crates or buy garbage you shouldn’t have bought.

Have an eye for the time period of unknown vinyl. Do you like certain years of records? For example, record pressing knew a real decline from the early ’90s until the early ’10s indicating most records pressed in this time were known to sell well to selectors.

Have a feel of what location the music is from. Are you from a city or think certain locations do have good music? Discovering records all coming from where you grew up or Brussels could result in a cherished niche collection.

Inspect the used vinyl’s quality. If the cover looks totally worn out, chances are the record quality is too. Are you allowed to get the record out of the cover? inspect for scratches or greasy fingers. You will not enjoy a record with scratches, even if it is a rare find.

Try to experiment with new records in a controlled way. Is there a sale of 20 crap records you’ll probably only listen once for 60 euro? This money could be used to buy 4 records you’ll have days of listening pleasure from.

Last but not least, bend with your knees, not your back. Crate digging could mess up your back if not done the correct way.


Preparing yourself properly before going to a record store will greatly increase the probability to discover new music that you’ll like. You should familiarize yourself with your record music taste, identify which store or event you are going to and decide how much budget you have over for it.

Next, be clever in the store. All store sections have their benefits and possible downsides. Our most important tips to keep in mind are listed too!

What is your favorite way for discovering new records in a store?

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