As the American music industry struggles to find its place in the digital world, many music enthusiasts, audiophiles, and DJ’s continue to buy and collect vinyl records, sometimes to their financial and emotional detriment. This remarkable documentary, shot over a three-year period, explores the various urban subcultures at an independent record store in Philadelphia, focusing on the store’s owners, employees, and customers. Although divergent in musical taste and style, they are all united as self-identified vinyl addicts.
With a keen ethnographic eye, filmmaker Matthew Durington captures telling commentary and provides a compelling case study of the addictive drive to collect that cuts across all cultures. The film also examines such topics as the relative value of material culture and how the world of popular urban music relates to larger social issues such as race and gender.
One of the film’s prominent themes is the racial and class issues that arise from the fact that the record store caters to a largely African American customer base that buys urban music (i.e., Rap and Hip Hop), yet the store itself does not reflect this customer base in its ownership and employees. Consequently, the employees are forced to deal with their own racial identities in addition to the racial and class dynamics of their urban clientele.
Record Store is a rich and vital cultural portrait that will draw and hold the attention of today’s digital-age students. It will inspire reflection and generate discussion in a wide variety of classes in American studies, sociology, cultural anthropology, social psychology, communication, and popular culture. It was produced by Matthew Durington.