BERKELEY, Calif. — On the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Channing Way since 1982, Rasputin Music is a popular destination for music lovers throughout Berkeley. While the Berkeley location isn’t the only one, it is the oldest and most famous. As vinyl loses more and more popularity to digital downloads, an old-school place like Rasputin is a breath of fresh air for those who like physical records rather than itunes playlists.
However, music isn’t all that’s sold at Rasputin. The store also has a large film collection. In an age when movies and music have both become primarily digital, the enduring popularity of a store like Rasputin is somewhat surprising. The location helps, since it’s right by UC Berkeley and can draw from the college crowd. Employee Jules Mulholland thinks it might be the sheer quantity of stock that the store has that keeps the store afloat. “We have possibly the largest vinyl selection in Northern California, and one of the largest in all of America,” Mulholland said.
The store is also bolstered by being more than just a record store. “Aside from the record biz, we are a generally reliable used retailer, which I think keeps people coming back,” Mulholland said. Rasputin is the type of store where people can come in looking for something specific or just spend an afternoon browsing. Without a specific product in mind, the inventory could keep a curious customer busy for hours on end.
So what is the future for Rasputin Music as the digital age only increases in momentum? “I think the store is going to stick around, at least for awhile,” said Mulholland. “Even though it’s less popular, I think the physical music industry will continue to remain in some form.” While Rasputin Music’s future isn’t in any immediate danger, it is one of the last of a dying breed. Mulholland has noticed a new wave of small, independent record stores, which may point to the future: “If record stores have a future, I think that is where it is going to possibly lie.”