Made By You: Amoeba Music

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Amoeba Music is an independent music mecca with stores spanning the most influential cities on the west coast. Amoeba has been providing music to the masses for over two decades. Despite the decline of brick and mortar record stores given the musical movement to online in recent years—Amoeba still stands as a symbol of the stronghold that music has as a cultural staple. We asked owner Marc Weinstein how it feels to be part of the musical revolution, where the name of his record store originated from and his thoughts on the future of music sales.

When did you first become fascinated with music?

As a child, my dad was a radio DJ and newsman in Buffalo, New York. He brought records home all the time and we had the radio on constantly. Around 10 years old I remember becoming completely in love with my radio and around that same time I started playing the drums.

What is it like to be part of the world’s largest independent record store?

It feels great to have been instrumental in bringing so much music to so many people—especially the passionate music collectors that share our understanding of music’s importance.

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Where did the name, Amoeba, come from? Did you really dig biology in school?

The name Amoeba was a product of us trying to come up with a name that was psychedelic, scientific and we also needed to be near the beginning of the alphabet—anyone remember phone books?

What is your favorite “Amoeba moment?”

There are many but I would have to say the Paul McCartney in store performance in 2007. He played an hour-long set of mostly Beatles material right in our store! I cried my eyes out!

Amoeba boasts some prime real estate—having stores in Hollywood, Berkeley and San Francisco. Which location is your favorite?

I love all three spots. Each spot is unique with so much history. The collective personalities of each of the communities we are located in are truly unique and include many music fanatics.

All the stores are strikingly large given the independent nature of the chain—do you feel like this accurately represents the mark you’ve made in the music retail industry?

It’s really a product of us trying hard to do the subject justice. There are so many artists, titles, genres and sub-genres—we try to curate the store as if it were many small shops under one roof. We also want our customers to be able to sell and trade whatever stuff they have. 50% of our inventory is previously owned by other collectors and that adds so much depth and personality to our inventory.

You know what they say—“the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Do you feel like “vintage” is becoming new again in terms of the medium on which music is played and shared?

Not necessarily, but many people are rediscovering the mechanical age and the age of quality craftsmanship by way of LPs these days. That is a wonderful thing. LPs are magical and they are by far the best print you’re going to get of an artist’s work. If you really care about an artist and their work, an LP is the best way to show it. It’s curated the way the artist intends it to be and with the associated artwork. Then there’s the sound quality.

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At the end of the day, passion is what really drives a successful business model. Do you feel that your passion for music has played a role in the success of the business?

My passion for music is shared by almost everyone on our staff. We are music geeks running the stores and the love courses through our store on both sides of the counter. What other “big retail” store can you say that about? We are all about our true love for the product we sell.

It is clear that times are changing—do you feel like this business can withstand the digital future?

Yes, I do. We are a place that really believes there is nothing like the real experience life has to offer. Serendipity is around every corner at our store. You never know what you are going to find or who you are going to meet or see. It’s a place anyone can visit and celebrate their love for music.

Any plans for future expansion that we can look forward to?

We have been changing, expanding and morphing with the times as only an independent business can. We are improving our mail order all the time and bringing in new collections and inventories from around the country regularly.

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