Evolution of digging

As someone who spends too long in record stores around the world I’ve noticed some interesting things.

Gen X, we tend to look at every bin but hunt in pairs. Not afraid of the folk and ambient sections we’d have swerved years before and have a wry smile when someone goes to the counter with some mid-90’s house music.

Millennials, know what they want and tend to get in and out. Have no shame in Shazamming the tune being played in the store. Will check prices on discogs.

Gen Z, if they aren’t the exception to the rule digging for house and/or disco they mostly walk in and ask for a specific record, get given record, buy record and leave.

I have noticed nothing apart from what is on the label. Why look up, valuable digging seconds lost!

Sunday was an exception. This record fair in Hitchin should be on your international lists!

Do you engage in conversation or just observe, two way engagement over music is a great thing…

I agree. Sometimes i’m in a favorite shop taking my time looking at records and I see someone who shows interest in a couple of good things, if I see a genuine opening I’ll start up a chat. Have found some nice records that way, and recommended a few.

I dig everywhere. One will never find treasure if one never looks. Bandcamp collections, magazine / online charts from 7-10yrs ago (retro theory lol) beats in space tracklists, mixesdb sets, you’d be surprised how a little cake or coffee unlocks the most clammed up record store worker…

edit, since Apple bought shazam and only a dsp can log in stuff (clarify this if incorrect) it does not seam as reliable any more…anyone else find this? Or maybe my music listening is becoming even more gonzo and outsider​:thinking::sweat_smile:

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I think the biggest change has been that people no longer really need to work their way up to the really obscure / rare stuff. The internet means you can immediately get interested in very niche genres without working up to it. So you can go straight in on the private press modern soul, without having covered what older heads would consider ‘foundational’.

Not saying it’s good or bad, but it’s definitely a change.


I’m 50 and do not miss record shops in the slightest. I shop almost entirely through Juno and Discogs with an occasional Bandcamp or Ebay buy. I can focus purely on what i want and not have my buying somewhat directed by what a local shop gets in. Plus it all gets delivered to work.


i’m mixed in my record store behaviors and approach. sometimes i feel like engaging with the folks, sometimes i just want a good safe space to put my head down, be quiet and not be bothered. moody fuckers unite! (but only when they want to!)

i worked in shops for quite a while, and to my shame i was a bit of a record store-asshole for a number of years. i don’t think that i was trying to gatekeep, i just became tired of really basic questions really fast. one day, i decided i didn’t want to be that guy anymore and decided to become a little more joyous in my role. after all, it should be a joyous place, right? it’s way better than pouring asphalt or handling insurance documentation.

that said, the shops i worked in had their fair share of punishers - the guys (and it’s always guys) who come in to tell you about everything they know about led zep matrix numbers or why sampling a break off of a compilation is some sort of sacrilege. these dudes always ask questions as a method of opening an agonizing conversation in which they’ll just tell you a story about whatever it is they wanted to talk about in the first place. i always play dumb with those folks, it’s faster. “yeah, i’ve never really listened to them before - it didn’t seem like anything i’d be all that interested in”.


It’s a shame that the surviving record shops have lost that buzz of dance music weekly releases. Having said that I was never a social animal at that period of peak 90-2000, but despite that I miss that buzz and the shouts.

I’m not really seeing any kind of customer into any 12 inch single or oddities. I do try and engage but it’s like these scenes are minuscule compared to the ‘stamp collector’ mentality.

The test pressing, soul, house, disco lot are pretty rare on the ground in the flesh. Myself and friends have unearthed some “characters” over the years but I’ll keep the details to myself.

Just one more prejudice, if you need to look at your phone to cross reference you just aren’t playing properly. Flick, flick, flick, grab your treasure pile. Play on headphones in shop and judge and buy.

Boot sale mode. Cash, ideally £200. Steelies and old work clothes in case it gets rough (I’m not kidding, have your wits about you), get in quick and early, buy everything you don’t know and put it in your Lidl bag. Head torch in winter, coffee and God’s blessing for disco gold.


I think it’s Antal (founder of Rush Hour record store) who said that the new generation now knows so much about rare soul and African records but have never listened to Stevie Wonder’s Innervision (paraphrasing).


I chat but I find the states is a little weird about it. In the UK you can have real yarn with someone but here it’s almost as if finding records is a solitary affair. I prefer the. Bay as the recommendations can be excellent. It’s always amazing how much I realize that I have only scratched the surface at most even in genres I’ve been listening to for 25 years. So much music, so little time.