Despite the loss of Rough Trade (unless a trip to Rockefeller Center is your idea of a leisurely afternoon), Williamsburg and Greenpoint still have no shortage of music stores and venues to get your fix. And now, Tower Records is throwing its hat back into the ring (kind of!) with the opening of Tower Labs.
Designed to be a “creative hub” for musicians, artists, and entertainers, Tower Labs functions a bit differently from the Tower Records of old. The experimental space is meant to house intimate live performances, interviews, merch drops, jam sessions, podcast recordings, and signings, as well as pop-ups offering limited-edition physical releases and more. And for Tower Records President Danny Zeijdel, Williamsburg fit the bill perfectly.
“We knew we wanted to open a space in Brooklyn,” Zeijdel admitted. “Tower Labs is Tower’s first-ever location in Brooklyn, and Williamsburg was at the top of our list as it’s a breeding ground for emerging music and a thriving cultural hub in New York City.”
This marks the return of Tower’s imprint on NYC since its brick-and-mortar record stores closed in the early 2000s, an imprint that altered the makeup of downtown Manhattan in the 1980s. In fact, Tower Labs is Tower’s first physical space to open in the US in 16 years (though it did reopen an online store in 2020).
“Connecting people through music is what Tower Records is all about,” Zeijdel explained. “Tower Labs will bring artists and fans together, and also will be an experimental space to discover how creatives in the digital era interact in a physical space. As technology continues to evolve, this will be a stepping stone to the eventual reopening of a new Tower Records retail experience.”
And this return to form has been thoughtful — Zeijdel and the Tower team have been working on local collaborations with artists, instrument companies, labels, and more to offer well-rounded events within the community.
“We have a number of events in the works with emerging local artists. These will consist of album release parties, filmed performances, interviews, merch drops, and more,” Zeijdel said. “We are also talking with instrument companies and manufacturers to provide equipment for those who may not have regular access to professional gear. As far as collaborations, artists like James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and labels such as Secretly Group have positively impacted the neighborhood with locally owned and operated businesses. We hope to do the same.”
Looking ahead, Tower Labs hopes to foster local creativity and musical expression of both today and tomorrow, including potential programs for kids.
“We would love to make Tower Labs an educational space for kids. After school programs and lectures hosted by artists are all possibilities, so long as music discovery and education are at the forefront,” Zeijdel said. “This is an exciting moment in time for creatives. With Tower Labs in Brooklyn, there is no better place to discover what the future of music sounds and looks like.”