Whoever thought Tower Records would return?
This Beloved ’90s Store Is Back From the Dead
Fourteen years after filing for bankruptcy, the iconic music chain has found new life online.
By Paul Thompson November 16, 2020
Since it first opened in the back of a Sacramento drugstore in 1960, Tower Records managed to do the impossible—create a chain record store that maintained the cool credibility of the local indie shops found in the hip neighborhoods of most any American city. It appealed to judgmental aficionados, actual rock stars, and casual mainstream music fans alike, a feat no other chain retailer seems to have accomplished, at least not in the music market. That’s why people were so upset when Tower Records filed for bankruptcy in 2006, announcing that it would close all of its roughly 200 locations in 15 countries—though one store remains open in Tokyo, Japan. However, according to reporting from Deadline, Tower Records is officially back as an online store, resurrecting many of the unique features that you came to love about the iconic red and yellow brand.
1 The relaunch was delayed by COVID.
Tower had been hinting at its return for about a year leading up to the official relaunch that was scheduled to take place in Austin, Texas, at the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in March 2020, Rolling Stone reported. The festival was of course canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the digital launch eventually kicked off on Nov. 13.
2 Live performances will continue in the new format.
In addition to its diverse selection available in multiple formats—from cassette tapes to vinyl records—Tower Records made a name for itself by hosting amazing in-store performances. Whether it was a major act passing through town on tour or the next big local band that was about to break out of the underground scene, customers could count on quality, frequent, and free live performances at most locations. And though it won’t be quite the same, Deadline reported that live performances will be available to watch on the company’s website.
3 A digital version of Tower’s original magazine has also been resurrected.
Tower’s Pulse! magazine has also returned as part of the relaunch. Once available as a print publication, Pulse! was a customer favorite and featured artist interviews, music news, and a first look at upcoming releases. All that is back in the magazine’s digital reincarnation.
4 The response from customers has been positive.
According to Tower Records CEO Danny Zeijdel, the chain’s return has been a success so far and the feedback from fans has been great. “A lot of people are so happy taking pictures of when they receive an order from Tower Records, posting it on Instagram,” Zeijdel told Deadline.