Tower Records, the iconic record store retail chain is making a return – this time as an online store.
The relaunch has been spearheaded by a former Tower Records customer Danny Zeijdel, who will now serve as the CEO. Zeijdel was devastated when Tower Records closed. In recent years, the music industry has moved to digital streaming services, but Zeijdel believes listening to music on a physical medium such as vinyl or CD cannot be matched. The physical medium provides the best way of looking at album artwork and liner notes.
Originally, the relaunch was planned to take place at the South by Southwest Music Festival followed by a series of pop-up shops. The COVID-19 pandemic changed plans and now it is being relaunched as an online store selling vinyl, cassettes, and compact discs.
The new website not only includes an online to purchase physical music, but will also include music news, online events, and exclusive offerings. Music news will be branded under the name Pulse!, which was the company’s music magazine. Pulse! originally started as a promotional magazine in the company’s retail stores before moving to national distribution in the 1990s.
Tower Records was founded in 1960 by Russ Solomon in Sacramento, California. Solomon founded the business as a teenager as way to re-sell 78-rpm jukebox records in his father’s Sacramento drug store. Eventually it grew into a retail chain and at is peak had nearly 200 stores in fifteen countries with more than 1 billion in annual sales. During this expansion, the company faced challenges from mass discounters and internet piracy. This eventually led to heavy debt, and in 2004 the company filed for Chapter 11. By 2006, the last store had closed. There were subsequently plans to relaunch Tower Records shortly after the closing, but those eventually failed.