More than Sound: Record Stores in Majority Black Neighborhoods in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Detroit, 1970–2010

Thomas Calkins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Music consumption imbues a city's neighborhoods with a character all their own, contributing to a vibrant and dynamic map of urban cultures. Brick-and-mortar music retailers remain an important site for this consumption, persisting despite challenges posed by digitization. But the landscape of contemporary cultural consumption has been shaped by urban inequality over time. Using a unique dataset of record store locations derived from city directories, and census tract data from the Longitudinal Tract Database (LTDB), this article presents maps and regression results that suggest that the current pattern of music retail has undergone radical shifts between 1970 and 2010 in the cities of Milwaukee, Chicago, and Detroit. Record stores were once more highly clustered in predominantly black areas than they are today. An analysis of record store failure further suggests that in the period between 1980 and 1990, record stores outside of majority white areas had significantly higher probabilities of failure than those within them. This study contributes to scholarship on cultural consumption and urban change by accounting for how segregation shapes the retail landscape.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)853-873
Number of pages21
JournalCity and Community
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes

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Publisher Copyright: © 2019 American Sociological Association

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