Music journalist Marcus Barnes has named the Reykjavík institution 12 Tónar among the ten best record stores on the planet. As the author of the newly published “Around the World in 80 Record Stores,” Barnes can safely be considered something of an authority on the topic.
12 Tónar opened its doors two decades ago and has long since cemented itself as an Icelandic cultural institution. Much more than a record store, they also run a record label of the same name, which has over 100 releases under its belt from some of the most notable artists in Iceland.
In addition, their cosy store on Skólavörðustígur in downtown Reykjavík has played venue to a number of concerts throughout the years, and the place has become known as an unofficial community centre for the Icelandic music scene.
The 12 Tónar organization and the people behind it—owners Lárus Jóhannesson and Jóhannes Ágústsson, along with stalwart long-term employee Einar “Sonic” Kristjánsson—have always placed special emphasis on creating a comfortable and inclusive space for music lovers to explore their wide world of sounds.
Visitors are greeted warmly, offered a complimentary cup of steaming espresso, and gently guided towards their music of preference, a process which frequently culminates in a surprise find—something astounding that they’d never even heard of before.
This plays a large part in the store’s enduring and organic appeal. Their focus is always squarely on the community of musicians and listeners. Rather than expanding their own enterprise, they do their part to ensure the community continues to thrive.
Speaking with mbl.is, Jóhannesson expressed happiness with the news. “It’s the soul of the record store that matters,” he said. “It’s inspiring to know that our work matters to people, and we’re proud of having one more notch in the belt. We’ve been on many lists throughout the years and it’s always very gratifying, especially when we’re at the top.”
The NME article where Barnes ranked 12 Tónar can be found here.
12 Tónar can be found on 15 Skólavörðustígur, 101 Reykjavík.