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Record Store Review: Other Music

December 17, 2012

If you are looking for the newest release on vinyl, or simply any popular vinyl issued or reissued in the past few years (and you don’t want to trek out to Brooklyn), Other Music in the East Village, just east of Broadway,  is as convenient as it gets.  It has a great location (one of the few vinyl shops not off the beaten path[1]), it’s accessible from many subway lines, has a comprehensive selection that’s easy to browse, and typically gets in new indie releases in store the day they are released. Other Music is in many ways NYC’s compliment to Music Matters; but in true New York City fashion, it is that and so much more.

Other Music splits its decent-sized store roughly evenly between vinyl and CDs. Unlike many of the stores in the East Village (which we’ll get to) it is spacious and bright – OM does not give off the too-common “we tried to cram every record we can into this space” vibe.  Both the new and used vinyl is sorted by genre (though rock/pop makes up about 80% of the selection) and then sorted alphabetically.  New rock/pop vinyl is further split by “new” new (current performers) vs. “then” new (e.g. classic rock reissues), a nice touch I haven’t seen elsewhere.  The used vinyl selection is more limited than its new vinyl counterpart, and the prices tend to be above-market (sometimes significantly so), but the condition of their used vinyl is consistently high and there is a very good chance of uncovering some nice finds (perhaps the high prices help here, as not everything gets snapped up immediately). As a result, I never leave OM without carefully checking the used racks and almost always walk out with a few albums.[2]

What sets Other Music apart from other vinyl shops isn’t the music selection, it’s all the other little niceties that OM offers.  OM has positioned itself as the go-to place for music enthusiasts by leveraging its relationships with independent record labels to the benefit of its customers.  Not only does it offer many extras that other shops don’t, its extras are ones that seem to be carefully thought out to appeal to its clientele. It may all be clever marketing, but it never feels that way.  For example, as far as I can tell, OM offers the widest selection of Record Store Day exclusives of any store in the area. In-store events coinciding with popular new releases are common, where the store is constantly giving away free posters, buttons and stickers to anyone who is interested.[3]  It sells tickets to select NYC-area gigs (mainly those at Le Poisson Rouge on Bleecker St. and Maxwell’s in Hoboken) directly to its customers (no Ticketmaster!!).  Subscribe to the OM email newsletter and in addition to hearing about new releases and upcoming in-store events, you’ll have many chances to win tickets to area shows.[4]  Finally and for what it’s worth, their concert t-shirt selection, while small, can’t be beat.[5]

Bottom line: Other Music isn’t cheap. But when I think of the full music store experience in NYC, this is the place I think of. Convenience, high quality, attention to detail and enhancing the customer experience in a genuine way – this is what you’re paying for. I’m sold.

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Quick stats:

  • Sells used, new, or both: Both
  • Genres: Pop (Indie), Rock, Indie Rock, Electronica
  • Non-vinyl for sale: CDs, box sets, T-shirts, music magazines, concert tickets
  • Selection: 8 out of 10
  • Price: 4 out of 10
  • Atmosphere: 9 out of 10
  • Ease of browsing/shopping: 9 out of 10
  • Used vinyl condition: 9 out of 10
  • Yelp rating: 4 stars

[1] “Off the beaten path” being a relative term when we’re talking about places in New York City, of course.

[2] My last time at OM I found a nice selection of used vinyl from the Feelies.  Picked up an original copy of The Good Earth.

[3] When the Shins released their latest album, Port of Morrow, Other Music had an in-store event playing the album in its entirety over and over.  Anyone who walked into the store that day had an opportunity to enter a contest to win free Shins’ music and memorabilia. I won a 7” vinyl single of “Simple Song” and an autographed Port of Morrow poster.  Pretty cool.

[4] I won tickets to an “intimate” Smashing Pumpkins show upon the release of their new album, Oceania.  More recently, I entered to win tickets to a Titus Andronicus show and even though I didn’t win, someone from the store emailed to offer me free tickets to a different local Titus show.  “The label has given us a couple of pairs of tickets for [the show] at Maxwell’s, which might be a cooler show since it’s in a smaller venue [than Webster Hall].  Let me know ASAP if you’re interested and we can give you a pair for tomorrow night.”  Now that’s good customer service.

[5] I attended LCDsoundsystem’s “last ever show” on April 2, 2011 and sadly didn’t come away with a “last ever” sweatshirt.  Even LCD’s website was sold out of them.  But I spotted one on the wall of other music.  Happy day!

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