SGV Tribune

Amoeba Music seeks $400,000 on GoFundMe to keep neon lights on

The iconic indie music chain, struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic, has three locations, including a 31,000-square-foot tourist destination in Hollywood.

Amoeba Music, which calls itself “the world’s largest independent record store,” has launched a GoFundMe campaign to ride out the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The independent music chain’s three stores, in Hollywood, Berkeley and San Francisco, are bastions of new and vintage vinyl records, turntables, cleaning kits, CDs, hard-to-find and international DVDs, and used Blu-ray discs.

They have also been a venue for free concerts and meet-and-greets by both up-and-coming artists and bona-fide legends such as Paul McCartney and Ozzy Osbourne.

But they have been closed since March 18 amid the spread of COVID-19.

“Without the physical manifestation of music, we are one electromagnetic storm away from having our culture wiped out,” the GoFundMe pitch attributed to co-founders Marc Weinstein and Dave Prinz reads. “We will not let that happen. We are the keepers of that flame; as are you.”

The pitch said Amoeba Music needs $400,000 to keep the vinyl spinning and 400 people employed.

The campaign started on Monday. At press time Tuesday, it had nearly 2,000 donors kicking in more than $80,000. Donations ranged from $20 to $200.

Stores could not be reached for comment.

GoFundMe is a website that provides a platform for entrepreneurs and individuals to get their dreams funded through crowdsourcing. It has started an initiative for small businesses in response to COVID-19. One of them is City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, a North Beach institution since the days of the beatnik poets in the 1950s. It made literary history by publishing Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.” Now it says it needs $300,000 to bolster dwindling cash reserves. Its GoFundMe campaign has brought in nearly $500,000 from 10,000 donors.

Weinstein and Prinz opened Amoeba Music in Berkeley in 1990. A second store followed in 1997 in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.

The Hollywood Store opened in late 2001 on Sunset Boulevard, a block away from the Cinerama Dome. It was almost instantly a tourist attraction, drawing record lovers from far and wide to roam its 31,000 square feet of treasures.

But its red neon sign was already set to go dark when the pandemic hit. The Sunset building is slated to be torn down and replaced by a high-rise. Earlier this year, Amoeba Music announced it would be moving a few blocks away to a slightly smaller space on Hollywood Boulevard.


Donations will help finance the move, the GoFundMe pitch states.

Although the stores are closed, Amoeba is selling vinyl, CDs, and movies on its website with free U.S. shipping available. But if pawing through $1 bins is your thing, you’re out of luck for the time being.

Record Surplus, Amoeba’s crosstown competitor on Santa Monica Boulevard, is also temporarily closed.

Amoeba Music