Shipping is a bitch. Addiction to wax is more of a bitch. Special out-of-print white labels going for 50+ quid on discogs is (quite possibly) the biggest bitch. But life is hard. So unless your dad is the Sultan of India, or you get to constantly travel to the hostpots in Europe, stateside or Japan for work, or you’re the sort of dope fiend/geek/hoarder who calculates all your daily expenses in a currency equivalent of the records you can buy a month, it’s pretty difficult to amass a worthwhile record collection if you’re living in the subcontinent.
But if you have occasional dreams that your rich phat uncle (in the confectionery business) has finally brought you that vinyl pressing plant for your birthday, or the ultimate litmus test for that special girl in your life is how much records you are willing to give up to be with her (you got real issues, son), here’s the definitive (but possibly flawed) guide on the best online record stores for subcontinental heads.
For obvious reasons, the focus here is dance music (techno, house and bass music) and music that is linked to dance music in some form (hiphop, roots and dub, reggae etc). Each store has been roughly weighed against 6 parameters, yet more weightage has been assigned to Stocks (Availability), Shipping and Economy, again, for obvious reasons.
Some (otherwise) good online stores have missed out due to several reasons (Decks – doesn’t ships to few countries, Boomkat – stuff sells out too fast, Chemical, Delsin & Rushhour – just missed the cut). Similarly some great physical/ online stores have also missed out (Phonica & Sound of the Universe – price, Rubadub – shipping). In the meantime, we give a shoutout (and an honourable mention) to No Repress (Fistcogs), for foiling (at least partly) those discogs opportunists. Lastly, we apologize early if we have accidentally overlooked some great stores.
Stay calm, cool and most of all, collected.
Honest Jon’s doesn’t quite ace any of the below categories (except one), yet it sits comfortably on the list (perhaps partly due to its legendary status). Although online browsing isn’t the same as being inside their great physical store, HJ’s online still possibly has the widest selection in terms of the canon.
This is a strange one: We simply couldn’t include some good stateside record stores due to the sheer exorbitance of shipping costs, yet a site like Music Stack has helped us find the right store at the right time. A search engine (or store locator, rather) of thousands of record stores, Music Stack has found us some rare gems over the years (like that first Jai Paul record, for instance).
Clone has great range when it comes to techno and house 12”s. Similarly, the availability and value-for-money ratio here is better than some of the hipper online stores in UK. The site is easy to navigate and sample music at, and the personalized charts are great.
A great place when it comes to lasting stocks, Redeye is (a sleeper?) UK giant, operating since 1992, that has all the right records, at the right prices (most of the time). Service (shipping etc) is fast and efficient.
What more can we say? It’s discogs, your favourite worst enemy, your half-brother-from-another-mother. That weird and nerdy friend who (at times) has made your widest dreams in life, come true. You can (almost) find anything here, from second hand to brand new to those bootlegs, but at a price.
Economy: 0 – 10/10
2 Hard Wax
Does it get cooler than Hard Wax? Probably not. Whilst some famous djs have told us that browsing records at their physical store in Berlin can be an intimidating experience at times, we’ve had nothing but excellent times online. Plus, the site has got the simplest/cleanest/most no-frills (and also most addictive) interface. For represses of roots, dub and reggae classix, there is none better. For pure techno (and all things along the Basic Channel axis), there is nothing better too. However, make sure to grab those hot (Workshop) records within a couple of days (or hours) before selling out.
Juno takes it out, for being the most economical, well organized and versatile store across a multitude of genres. The shipping is fast, done is batches (of 5 or less records, but at the same bulk price) so that you don’t have to go through the corrupt and convoluted (and hence, costly) subcontinental customs channels to get ‘em cleared. And most of all, if you have day jobs like us and can’t constantly have the finger on the pulse (yet we do!), their stocks last the longest. Dig. In.