Where To Shop: Siren Records

Record Store Day only comes once a year but record stores are there 365 days a year! And we're going to showcase some of the best. First up, Siren Records in Doylestown, PA, USA. Owner Blair Elliot talks to us about the shop.

Siren Records

posted April 30, 2010

by Corinne

25 E State Street, 1st Floor
Doylestown, PA 18901

When was Siren Records founded? Give us a brief history of the shop.

The Store was founded in the mid 1980's as part of a group of businesses in another nearby location. It was started by putting a collection on consignment that a local DJ had built up of unused records. It was moved to State Street in Doylestown at the end of 1990. This was the beginning of what most people think of as Siren Records.

What genres do you specialize in?

The store was meant, from the beginning, to specialize in any underground form of music. Punk, Post-Punk, Hardcore, Indie Rock, Metal, Noise, Avant Garde, Etc. Since then, we have maintained that selection while becoming broader in scope. We now stock much in the way of Roots Music: Jazz, Blues, Folk, Classic Country & Bluegrass, Reggae. Our Hip Hop selection has also exploded over the years. Vinyl in all of these genres has always been a crucial part of what we stock.

Why did you start your store?

The store was started by myself and another person out of a pure interest in the Punk & Post-Punk scenes. Collecting records and visiting record stores all around the Philly area, and NYC, was an obsession. Our intention was to bring this interest and knowledge and obsession to the heart of Bucks County.

Describe your shop's average customer.

Our average customer tends to be between 25 & 60 years of age. On the younger end of the scale they tend to be interested in collecting any kind of Independent type of music from the late 1970's through to the current crop of bands. The older group (Baby Boomers?) tend to collect Classic Rock, Psych Rock, and all kinds of Roots Music. All of these groups split their purchases fairly evenly between Vinyl & CD. We have noticed more & more women becoming collectors in the younger group in recent years.

Do you do in-store appearances or performances? If so, what have been your most popular in-stores?

We have hosted hundreds of in-store performances over the years. Lately, in our current space, these have been limited to mostly jazz and certain record release events. Recently we hosted a record release in-store by Circa Survive, which was quite sold out. In the past, some of our more popular in-stores have been with Dillinger Escape Plan, Baroness, Drink Up Buttercup, The Minor Times, The Ataris, Person L, A Life Once Lost, Paint It Black, The Wonder Years, Title Fight, Let Down, The Ergs, Trash Talk, Zolof The Rock N Roll Destroyer, The Dear Hunter, and Mae.

How do you decide which albums and artists to stock?

We've always stocked a combination of the classic albums from any particular era, and as much of the new "indie" stuff as possible. Our customers are often a guide as to what they are looking for.

We also deal directly with as many of the independent labels as we can. This serves as somewhat of a guide as to what we bring into the store. With many of these labels, like Matador Records and their affiliated labels, we will stock almost everything that they release.

What are your thoughts on the viability of indie record shops in the face of diminishing physical sales?

I don't see physical sales diminishing so much at the level of the indie shops. The sales of the more "mainstream" releases has certainly been affected by downloading. Stores like Siren have been more immune to the problems of the industry because we appeal more to the serious music collector. People who shop here often download stuff in order to figure out what they should actually buy. In a sense, the internet has probably helped sales in certain genres of music.

Any advice for those thinking of opening their own record shop?

Be obsessed with music, have lots of money, and lots of patience. It takes a LONG time to build up this kind of business.