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Amoeba Music: LA's Famous Vinyl Haven
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Amoeba Music: LA's Famous Vinyl Haven

Picture of Heather Hildreth
Updated: 2 August 2016
We take a look at the history of Amoeba music and the variety of merchandise offered at their iconic Californian record store. Keeping vinyl alive and kicking, Amoeba is a haven for those that prefer their music with a side of art, culture and choice. We look at why you should switch from faceless downloads to happy browsing with our guide to Amoeba Music.
Amoeba's Los Angeles location
Courtesy Amoeba Music

Vinyl records haven’t yet fallen by the wayside, in fact, there are still many people collecting vinyl and enjoying their music through the use of record players. For those who consider themselves vinyl purists, a CD player or iPod just doesn’t quite satisfy the craving for tunes. Vinyl collecting has become a growing phenomenon, where collectors trade, buy, and sell their vinyl with a network of other collectors. Certain vinyl is of more value than others as bands and record labels release limited editions of their albums and EPs. With this streak of rarity added to the purchase of vinyl, there is certainly money to be made in careful and considered vinyl collecting. For any vinyl collector, pop culture junkie, or music enthusiast, Amoeba Music fulfills all of these yearnings and more.

The first Amoeba Music store opened in 1990 on Telegraph Ave in Berkeley, California. The founders of Amoeba Music were already seasoned veterans when it came to operating an independent record store, as they were once former employees of the largest chain of record stores within the Bay Area – Rasputin Music. Some may now even say that they have surpassed Rasputin Music in terms of popularity.

After witnessing the success of Amoeba’s Berkeley location, a small expansion took place. In 1997, Amoeba opened its 24,000 square foot former-bowling-alley record store in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. Finally in 2001, Amoeba expanded their record store by moving down south to Los Angeles, California, stocking it up with 250,000 titles within their two story complex. The Amoeba location of Sunset, with its massive floor space, has become known as one of the world’s largest independent record stores and became an instant landmark in LA. It now draws in tourists and music enthusiasts alike from around Southern California and the world.

Photo posted by The Conmunity - The Pop Culture Geek
Courtesy Amoeba Hollywood.

These record stores not only sell music, movies, and old gig posters to consumers – Amoeba also holds numerous live shows. These musical acts are completely free and can range from small upcoming artists to the biggest names in the music industry today. One of the former Beatles, Sir Paul McCartney, appeared at the Hollywood location and performed a set unannounced in 2007. From that impromptu performance, McCartney released an EP, entitled Amoeba’s Secret. In terms of current goings on within Amoeba’s Hollywood location, this month is loaded with live performances from upcoming musical artists. On June 26th there will be a live set by Surfn’ Sammy (Pharaohs), whose style is described as live instrumentation dance music. June 30th will see a live performance and signing from local LA alternative rock band, Failure. And finally on July 3rd, there will be a live set from DJ Muro.

Amoeba embraces all genres – there are no exclusions when it comes to exposing one’s self to the thousands of different sounds that the world’s artists have to offer. From rap to jazz to ambient to indie to classic rock to punk – it’s all there at Amoeba. Though Amoeba is fundamentally known for their selling of music, these record stores offer much more than just mere vinyl, CDs, and cassettes. They sell books, movies, old gig posters, clothing, collectibles and pop culture memorabilia. You can find yourself walking into Amoeba only searching for one specific album or item, but can quickly find yourself walking out with far more than you initially expected. There is so much to explore in the store itself that time seems to move at a far faster pace.