Summer in the City: Amoeba Music at Herald Square
Excited about the permanent Amoeba Music installation in our newest Herald Square store (1333 Broadway NYC), we spoke to Marc Weinstein, one of the co-founders of Amoeba, to get the scoop on what his brand plans to bring to the Amoeba Music record shop in their first NYC location.
Can you tell us a bit about how Amoeba started, and what it’s like to have grown from a small place to become such a big entity?
Amoeba started because two record store geeks got together to create a business that would be the closest thing to a mecca for record collectors, carrying as much music to do the overall subject the justice it deserves and a place that truly celebrates humankind's most "accessible" art. Our idea and our "style" quickly made many people enthusiastic customers and we grew exponentially in our first ten years of existence. Expanding our reach has been most gratifying as so many have been able to avail themselves of what we offer and have the next best thing to a big museum fully devoted to music: A place where you can actually buy the stuff and bring all that love home with you.
How has your taste in music changed and evolved over time?
My taste has only grown broader and wider in my 38 years in the retail record biz having been exposed to many new genres, scenes, and artists along the way. Mostly because we all work around other music collectors and experts all day, everyday, and get constant firsthand accounts of cool new stuff to check out—with much of this wisdom coming from the customers themselves. I am much more interested in jazz and "world" folk music than I was when I was younger. American "roots" music, too. I also now particularly love "experimental" and "improvisational" music, the stuff where amazing musicians go completely out on a limb and expose all their wackiest ideas.
What are three words you would use to describe Amoeba and its staff?
Love, passion and personality.
What do you think are the best albums of all time?
My "top" favorites would truly number in the hundreds and would include hit records as well as some super obscure titles. OK, I'll try. The Beatles' Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart's Club Band; Sun Ra's Atlantis; Pere Ubu's The Modern Dance; Miles Davis' Nefertiti; and Led Zeppelin 4.
What will you include in your curated selection at Herald Square?
It will be a cross section of all popular genres—a small attempt to distill the half million used on out-of-print LPs that we have and hopefully a selection that will inspire people to delve deeper into the experience of listening to LPs... LPs that will show off how great the experience of bringing home something new to check out can be!
Can you talk to us a bit about selling records in California vs. New York?
For one thing, California has always had a love affair with records, with more record stores "per capita" than anywhere in the U.S. New York City might have come in a close second, at least until recently when real estate prices made it downright prohibitive for independent stores to exist. Like New York, Los Angeles is a 24-hour city and we have lines in our store right up until our 11pm closing time every night. NYC and L.A. have so much in common culturally with such utter diversity and an amazing array of art and music-related institutions. Also, like NYC, Los Angeles is home to so much media, we're almost always a part of the hype surrounding a given release which adds a lot of excitement. Both places are among the few places a store like Amoeba can thrive with such a feeling of constant cultural "critical mass"!