Tower Records returns as online music store

In the age of digital music streaming and the coronavirus pandemic, Tower Records is back as an online music store.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — When Tower Records closed in 2006 after nearly half a century in business, longtime client Danny Zeijdel was devastated.

“With this shutdown, I think it was the end of a kind of chapter in the music industry where that sense of community was gone,” Zeijdel said. Tower Records was a place for him and many customers from all over the world to come and discover new music.

That’s why Zeijdel has hope and excitement in a year that left people wanting both. He’s now the CEO of the resurrected company, which aims to bring the music store back to the world once again.

Tower Records opened in Sacramento in 1960. In its heyday, the company operated in 20 countries, including a store in Tokyo which was recognized as the largest music store in the world.

The company went bankrupt in 2006. For the new owners, 2020 seemed like the perfect year to bring Tower Records back due to the resurgence of vinyl and how music listeners seemed to yearn for physical releases.

The South by Southwest music festival was supposed to be where Tower Records was to make a comeback. From there, the music store would host pop-up events that would have included album signings; however, the coronavirus has swept the world, shutting down virtually every music event in the country, Iincluding South by South-West.

The annual Austin, Texas festival was canceled just days before its scheduled start in mid-March. Initially, during the pandemic, many online stores chose to sell only essential items to customers. Zeijdel said it felt like the perfect time to ship vinyl to music lovers.

In the age of digital streaming, Zeijdel said listening to music in its physical form, such as on vinyl or cd, is an experience unmatched by streaming services. While good on the go, streaming doesn’t capture the experience of looking at album artwork, liner notes and learning what inspired the artist, Zeijdel said.

“(What) the younger generation also wants right now is that disconnect from the physical world from the digital world and to pay attention and listen, really listen to music, rather than just put it in the background,” said said Zeijdel.

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Alice P. Darby