What is a shop called that sells music CDs (American English)? Such shops also offer some classic or traditional music on other forms of media — vinyl or cassettes. However they do not sell music instruments or offers music classes (see photo).

Man browsing CDs in specialist shop

  • 1
    Do they still exist? Where I live in Italy, a smallish city, these have become obsolete. Nowadays, the only places where you can buy CDs are in supermarkets. Everyone, or nearly, downloads their music.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 15:34
  • 5
    @Mari-LouA - yes, there still are record stores in Italy as well as in other countries.
    – user66974
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 15:38
  • 4
    @Mari-LouA - record shops are surviving offering CDs which are difficult to find online and vinyls that are back into fashion. People still love human contact shopping :)
    – user66974
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 15:46
  • 15
    I believe they are called obsolete: No longer in use.
    – user128216
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 18:51
  • 8
    Wow, Daddy, that’s like a stand up Amazon with instant delivery?!
    – JDługosz
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 5:55

5 Answers 5


The somewhat outdated title is Record Store or Record Shop.

  • 23
    "Daddy, what's a shop?"
    – user4683
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 15:41
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    The overwhelming point in this QA, user186499, is that it is totally, completely irrelevant to naming if technology changes the underlying "thing", this has always been the case. If you're not a native English speaker this is totally the norm in English. Your question is just like asking: "Wow "films" are not made of film any more! What are they called now?!"
    – Fattie
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 16:18
  • 3
    @Fattie Is that necessarily true? I still use the term "books on tape" but I feel like it dates me a bit.
    – Casey
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 18:49
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    @Casey This is similar to how the "Save" icon in computer software is usually represented as a 3.5" floppy disk despite these being obsolete for years and unrecognisable to younger people. The meaning persists even though the archetype it is based on is redundant. Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 21:08
  • 15
    When I want to ask the time without using my voice, I tap my wrist. The other person is never wearing a wristwatch, and they know to pull their phone out of their pocket and tell me the time
    – chiliNUT
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 16:44

Record store, also Record shop:

  • an outlet that sells recorded music

(Collins Dictionary)

As shown in Ngram "record shop" is the more common definition in BrE while (see Ngram) "record store" is more common in AmE.

Spillers Records in Cardiff, Wales, founded in 1894 by Henry Spiller, is reputed to be the oldest record shop in the world. It originally specialised in the sale of phonographs, cylinders and shellac discs. (The world's oldest record shop: on the vinyl frontier since 1894).

(Wikipedia)(The Guardian)

America's oldest record store, George's Song Shop:

  • First opened in 1932, George's currently enjoys the distinction of being the oldest existing record store in America.

  • George’s Song Shop was know as Bernie George’s Song Shop from 1932-1941. The sign outside read Bernie George’s Song Shop until 1961.


  • 2
    I don't know whether I agree with this. If someone said "record store" to me I would infer they meant a place which primarily sells vinyl.
    – Michael
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 15:45
  • @Michael - well, that may be a question of personal age, younger people would more likely think about CDs.
    – user66974
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 15:47
  • 3
    CD sales are plummeting. They're irrelevant to young people now.
    – Michael
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 16:05
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    One thing that I've always thought was interesting was that it's "album" that has endured as a term for the item itself through format changes, even though its literal meaning stopped applying once LPs were introduced.
    – Random832
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 16:33
  • @Michael - I didn't say young people, but younger people, those who grew up buying CDs rather than vinyls.
    – user66974
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 18:24

Back when such things mattered, growing up in the US we called them "music stores".

  • 12
    I grew up in the US too, but for me a "music store" did and does means a shop where you buy musical instruments and accessories. A physical location is old-fashioned, but still important for many customers who wish to play a number of instruments before choosing one.
    – user227547
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 16:40
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    To me, in the US, "music store" is ambiguous, but is most likely to refer to a shop that deals in musical instruments and their accessories.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 17:17
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    @HotLicks Though it is ambiguous, record stores are in fact also called music stores. This is correct. Many record stores or chains have the word "music" in their name, even, rather than "record". Also, there are stores that sell both: in one stop, you can get a few records and a guitar. :)
    – Kaz
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 18:14
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    I'm old, so ymmv, but to me a "music store" sells sheet music. It is also used to refer to stores that sell instruments as well (and which may also sell CDs, etc.) If what you want is primarily recorded music (be it on CD, tape, vinyl, 8-track, etc.), you want a "record store." Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 19:16
  • @RogerSinasohn Where I grew up I don't think there were any stores that specialized in sheet music. It was usually just a section of a store that sold records (we called them "record stores") or instruments (we called them "music stores").
    – Barmar
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 21:20

If it sells only recorded music, Americans usually call it a record store, no matter the media. This is analogous to considering the store to be part of a database of music, one recording being a record regardless of the physical media. Each piece of music, whether collected into an album or individually would be a file.

I believe anyone who grew up with iTunes would agree since that's the model Apple used when designing iTunes. The Youtube generation might see it different, but still in terms of data storage. If the store's inventory includes audio books, paperbacks and hardbacks in addition to recorded music, it is called a bookstore. Barnes&Noble is an example of a bookstore that sells music.

  • Some sort of citation would be good, but this is a great answer. Welcome to the stack.
    – Yeshe
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 22:50
  • I remember when the school library was renamed to the media center. I don’t think it caught on.
    – JDługosz
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 5:54
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    Can't help laughing at this answer thinking the "iTunes generation" and the "Youtube generation" aren't the same thing!
    – AndyT
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 9:58
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    @AndyT: well, "generations" of technology and "generations" of humans aren't the same thing, causing some confusion. Used to be a generation of humans was 20-30 years. I think for these purposes "the previous generation" means something like "someone who left high school around the time you started it" ;-) The significant difference is that original iTunes users had a music collection whereas YouTube users basically don't (at least, not on YouTube -- they may also use iTunes or Spotify or own a CD player or whatever). Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 10:09
  • "If the store's inventory includes audio books, paperbacks and hardbacks in addition to recorded music, it is called a bookstore." Not necessarily. You give Barnes&Noble as example of a bookstore that sells music, but there's no reason you can't also have a record store that sells books. It depends on what their primary line of business is. Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 12:46

These days, most places that sell CD's we call a "Thrift store". We might also say "garage sale", or "flea market", or "street hustler".

  • Hard to say if that answer is incorrect, since the question did not imply secondhand or new sale :) Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 15:14

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