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.

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Where

Indie Music

Don’t let its inconspicuous Gulou Xi Dajie hideaway fool you – Indie Music is a massive player in the Chinese music industry, both inside and out of this miniscule, vinyl-packed cupboard. Specialising in (surprise!) Chinese indie music, owner Zhou Yin stocks, sells and internationally distributes (via Taobao) artists from across China and Mongolia.

 

There are also plenty of mainstream tunes; we spotted the latest T.Swift for 120RMB, but local bands will cost you considerably less. A prime spot for anyone looking to get deep into the Chinese music scene, and those already well into it.

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17 Gulou Xi Dajie (Gulou, Dongcheng)

Fruityshop (水果店)

Wang originally opened the store’s first incarnation, Strange Fruit, two years ago in Qianliang Hutong, before moving it to its present digs on Dongsi toutiao and renaming it Fruityshop, after the label of his new partner, Zhai Ruixin (also known as the ambient musician me:mo).

 

The offerings start with jazz, followed by aisles containing four decades of pop and rock (’60s through to the ’90s), soundtracks, blues, country, bluegrass, ambient and experimental. Like any secondhand store, Fruityshop contains a mix of classics, gems and dross, all priced accordingly from around 40RMB to more than 200RMB. 

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17 Dongsi Toutiao Hutong (Dongcheng, Dongcheng)

Rockland

When it comes to scope, it doesn't get much better than Houhai’s Rockland (2 Nanguanfang Hutong). The shop boasts a range of albums focused on Western art rock and contemporary Chinese indie, not to mention plenty of burned compilations. The extensive library is curated by music fanatic Xiao Zhan, who’s been running the operation for more than a decade.

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2 Nanguanfang Hutong (Houhai, Xicheng)

Li-Pi Records

Digital is a dirty word at this funky little record store-cum-bar-cum-café. Vinyl is all they sell, and if you can think of it, Li-Pi probably has is it. Sip on a coffee or cocktail from the shop café as you browse through thousands of albums ranging from former Chicago Bulls player Shaquille O’Neal’s Biological Didn’t Bother (160RMB) to Beethoven’s 9 Symphonien Karajan (1,580RMB). They also have a range of record players for sale (from 520RMB) and a roped-off vintage one which you can choose a record to be played on.

 

We heard Johnny Depp stopped by on his promotional tour for Transcendence last spring. If Johnny’s doing it, we probably all should, right?

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4 Jiuxianqiao Lu (798, Chaoyang)

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