Berlin has enjoyed its reputation as one of Europe’s most important cultural hubs for over a century. Musically, the German capital has been a flashpoint for a vast spectrum of sounds: from classical to jazz, prog rock and Krautrock, punk and post-punk, avant-garde and pop, to the thumping beat that’s fueled Berlin’s nightlife for the last three decades, techno.
In the same way that there is a scene for every music subculture in Berlin, there is a record store to satisfy every music lover’s tastes. With 87 individual stores, Berlin boasts the second highest concentration of record stores per capita in the world (beaten only by Tokyo), so there is plenty of room for every type of vinyl-slinger. Here are just some of the essential stops on the maps, including the traditional 2nd hand outlets, quirky specialists, DJ meccas and long-running institutions.
AUDIO-IN USED RECORD STORE – Libauerstraße 19, Friedrichshain
For those after the deepest deep cuts of electro, techno and house, Audio-In has carved out a specialist niche for top-quality 2nd hand wax. Digging for gold is especially easy in their immaculately organised racks which highlights their newly curated stock every week.
The doors of this Kreuzberg institution opened in 1998, so Coretex has well and truly earned its tagline of “The Home of Hardcore and Punk.” Carrying heavy sounds from around the world as well as 7” EPs pressed for local bands it’s an essential stop for those who want to keep their finger on the pulse of punk, locally and internationally.
FIRESTATION RECORDS – Wisbyer Str. 51-52, Prenzlauer Berg
This Anglophile’s dream is situated in the city’s northern district of Prenzlauer Berg. Since the 1990s Firestation Records has specialised in the jangly guitar sound of ‘80s British indie and pop. With a strong taste for re-released and hard-to-find 2nd hand gems you can complete your Britpop, Indie, Wave collections here with ease.
HARD WAX – 44A Paul-Lincke-Ufer, Kreuzberg
One of the few record stores in the world that can also boast having created its own genre. Opened in 1989 by Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus, Hard Wax is inextricably linked to the dub techno sound that the pair pioneered in the 1990s with their production outfit Basic Channel. Sub-branches and offshoots of this sound – roots reggae, techno, UK dubstep – still form the core constellation of genres stocked in the store that keep regulars and visitors alike flocking in each week.
HHV RECORDS – Grünberger Straße 54, Friedrichshain
What began in the 1990s as a small record store with imported hard-to-source American rap records has since blossomed into a large, modern hub that showcases hip hop and vinyl-loving culture in the broadest sense. Hip Hop staples like battle-ready mixers, scratch tools and the latest Rap records are in abundance, as are a plethora of other genres on vinyl, accessories, fashion and fresh kicks.
LEFTER RECORDS – Gneisenaustrasse 114, Kreuzberg
Did you know that the largest Turkish community in the world – outside of Turkey itself – lives in Berlin? It’s fitting, then, that this demographic is represented with a specialist records store, and for the last 18 months Lefter Records has served that purpose. In this basement store you’ll find one of the biggest collections of Turkish music in Europe, covering traditional folk, ‘70s disco and modern pop megastars, as well as a thoughtfully curated selection of eclectic sounds from all around the globe.
MELTING POINT RECORD STORE – Kastanienallee 55, 10119 Mitte
Melting Point has been in the business for more than 20 years, but can sometimes be outshone by the more (in)famous DJ-centric outlets. However its positive reputation has remained consistent, particularly for new releases from European labels specialising in modern house and disco, alongside a good selection of 2nd hand cuts as well. Situated in the middle of the city, it’s a great spot to start digging before fanning out to other districts.
OLDSCHOOL – Walter-Benjamin-Platz 2, Charlottenburg
The majority of the record stores listed here are scattered around the north, east and south of Berlin, but that’s not to say that the west should be overlooked! This jazz specialist is tucked away in a courtyard of the well-to-do district of Charlottenburg, and offers a small yet perfectly formed collection of traditional, abstract and modern jazz fusion for perusal alongside a healthy amount of classical music to boot.
OYE – Prenzlauer Berg and Neukölln
Bookending the north and south sides of the city, Oye’s approach to dance music is wide-ranging, catering to jazz heads, disco boffins and underground house enthusiasts. Whether in the larger basement store in Prenzlauer Berg or the smaller, newer streetside shop in Neukölln, there is plenty for fans of lively leftfield music to graze over.
PLATTEN PEDRO – Tegeler Weg 102, Charlottenburg
This one-of-a-kind store is the quirkiest of the lot. Peter Patzek aka Platten Pedro has amassed over 100,000 second hand records, which are stacked in floor-to-ceiling shelves, organised alphabetically, and genres and classic artists like Bowie and The Beatles are all given spaces that are literally measured out by the metre. There’s a little bit of everything to be found here, and it’s worth your while to spend a bit of extra time chatting with Pedro himself to hear his unique story.
POWER PARK RECORD STORE – Boxhagener Strasse 19 / 20, Friedrichshain
Berlin is not short on great record stores that cover new & used records, dating from the 1920s to now. What makes a really great record store? Curation is one part, service is another. Power Park is staffed with skilled and friendly generalists who will take note of what you’ve selected to listen to and slip some extra obscure records into your pile.
SOULTRADE RECORDSTORE – Sanderstraße 29, Neukölln
As the name suggests, this small store in Neukölln is all about soul. For more than 20 years Soultrade has filled its racks with funk, jazz, hip hop, blues, Afro and Brazilian as well as rock, pop, indie and alternative classics. Whether it’s new releases, reissues or 2nd hand gems, you’ll find a comprehensive representation of soul and groove in many and various forms.
SPACEHALL – Zossener Str. 33, 10961 Berlin
This Kreuzberg institution is two (or three) record stores in one. In the front room you’ll find soul, blues and jazz, the looooong corridor behind it is decorated with forest wallpaper and stocks plenty of eclectic styles – reggae, rock, ambient, new beat – and in what is essentially a black-out room at the back, DJs of all stripes flock every day of the week to pick over fresh new releases and a well-curated 2nd hand selection, hang out on the sofa, or dance through a program of instore DJ sets.
If you’re in Berlin over a weekend be sure to check out the many flea markets that take place across every district, every weekend. From the behemoth-sized Mauer Park in Prenzlauer Berg to smaller markets like Nowkölln on Maybachufer in Neukölln and the cavernous undercover Arena Flea Market in Kreuzberg, you’re bound to encounter professional sellers, whole collections up for grabs, or the occasional box of gems amongst the bric a brac. Get involved!