Beijing's best record shops

Forget Spotify, the best place for recommendations is a record store

Radio, TV and the internet combined still haven't managed to kill off vinyl, or the record shop. Probably because rummaging through boxes of old '78s is so dang fun.

Gulou

Indie Music

The small-but-mighty Indie Music is divided right down the middle. One wall is full to the ceiling with domestic pop, metal, classic rock and folk (from 80RMB for CDs and 200RMB for vinyl). The other is full of international music of all kinds, spanning rock, metal, hip- hop and more (Billboard-toppers like Adele and Taylor Swift cost between 220-260RMB).

What's spinning?  Southern provinces Guangdong and Yunnan have been home to China’s budding reggae scene in recent years; shop co-owner Guo Cheng recommends the Yunnan-based Kawa.

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17 Gulou Xi Dajie (Gulou, Dongcheng)

Fruityshop (水果店)

This Dongsi shop’s offerings start with jazz and continue through four decades of vintage pop and rock, soundtracks, blues, country, bluegrass, ambient and experimental. Fruityshop contains a mix of classics and hidden gems all priced from 40RMB to more than 200RMB. Don’t expect much in the way of modern music – while the shop offers a decent selection of relatively new ambient and experimental, as well as several ’90s rock and new-age classics, Fruityshop is a retro affair with few releases from the last two decades.

What's spinning? Soulful jazz from Solar, on the 1993 LP Faith for my Mind.

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17 Dongsi Toutiao Hutong (Dongcheng, Dongcheng)

666 Rock Shop

This small shop just off Gulou is a metalhead’s dream, stocking everything from CDs from Beijing’s thriving metal scene (from 80RMB), to vinyls of classics including Polyphony labels including Maybe Mars and Beggars, or spend an afternoon flipping through old issues of Rolling Stone and Beijing ’zines in the space’s seating area. What’s spinning? Post-punk/new wave trio Re-TROS, especially old track ‘Boys in Cage’, and ‘At Mosp Here’ off their recent album Before the Applause (240RMB). à 7 Banqiaonanxiang, Dongcheng district. 11am- 6pm daily. Indie Music Indie Music Megadeth and Iron Maiden (from 200RMB). The shop also stocks apparel and accessories for headbangers to look the part.

What's spinning? Beijing-based stoner bunch Never Before, and thrashy sorts TumourBoy.

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230-6 Gulou Dong Dajie (Gulou, Dongcheng)

Yue Space

Inside Beixinqiao livehouse Yue Space, a small record shop stocks indie, jazz and Chinese rock. Many of the international artists’ records are second-hand and brought back from abroad. Scoop up new vinyls from labels including Maybe Mars and Beggars, or spend an afternoon flipping through old issues of Rolling Stone and Beijing ’zines in the space’s seating area.

What's spinning? Post-punk/new wave trio Re-TROS, especially old track 'Boys in Cage', and 'At Mosp Here' off their recent album Before the Applause (240RMB).

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7 Banqiaonanxiang

Sanlitun

Polyphony

Polyphony’s crisp white walls and minimalist design may feel more Apple Store than comics and record shop but, indeed, the shop’s soundproof listening booths are a great place to spend time listening to jazz and classical tunes. While it’s only the comics that are for sale inside Polyphony, with a store membership (which simply means following the shop’s official WeChat – it’s free) visitors can access the private rooms and listen to a wide selection on vinyl.

What's spinning? The best of Duke Ellington, and the London Symphony Orchestra.

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1 Sanlitun Nan Lu (Sanlitun, Chaoyang)

798

Li-Pi Records

Impressive in both selection and size, Li-Pi Records’ 798 store has expanded bit by bit since its opening in 2008. Vinyls from virtually every genre – from classic rock to domestic indie releases to hip-hop and everything in between – start at 240RMB and line the spacious shop’s walls, which are made accessible by library ladders. On our visit, a Beethoven symphony plays loudly from a raised stage in the venue’s largest room, making for a great spot to stick around for a coffee (americanos are 35RMB) after browsing. Recently Li-Pi has ventured into manufacturing its own devices, with its first product a suitcase turntable called the Luntik (3,520RMB), which has bluetooth and wireless capabilities.

What's spinning? Co-founder Eric Chen recommends the shop’s selection of film soundtracks, including a red vinyl of The Pianist (2002) filled with poetic Chopin pieces (278RMB).

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4 Jiuxianqiao Lu (798, Chaoyang)

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