The Vinyl District
The Vinyl District app's start-up page
The Vinyl District, a new mobile phone app that directs users to nearby record stores, won't be anything new for vinyl veterans who already know the ins and outs of their city's best bins. But for curious individuals wanting to explore a new local record store scene or someone on their lunch break looking for a quick crate dive, this is an app to try.
Released in December for the iPhone and Android, the free app, created by contributors to a music blog of the same name, combines the Vinyl District's collective knowledge with online databases and user submissions to find record stores around the country. For the user, a geo-location system offers a bird's eye view of their neighborhood and points them in the direction of the closest place to buy CDs or vinyl.
iPhone screen capture
Two trips to Som, three to Red Onion: The Vinyl District app's suggestions for record stores near NPR in D.C.
Two trips to Som, three to Red Onion: The Vinyl District app's suggestions for record stores near NPR in D.C. iPhone screen capture
We tested out the program at the All Songs Considered secret technology lab in downtown Washington, D.C. The app correctly identified the location of our nearest record store, Som Records, a basement shop specializing in used vinyl. Selecting the store then provided directions and the store's Yelp page. While a number of stores were listed multiple times, the app did show all of D.C.'s prominent vinyl hotspots in an understandable way.
Tim Broun, a contributor to the blog who helped put the app together, said in an email that it was developed, "for people (much like myself) who might find themselves in a new or strange place, and [wonder] if there were any record stores around." For the time being, users wanting to plan out trips outside their area are out of luck, but for spontaneous record seekers exploring unknown music scenes the app fits the bill.
You can check out the new app for iPhone here and Android here. Once you've used it, let us know how well it work in your area.