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10 Biggest Music Stores in USA, Ranked Based on Revenue

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Americans spent more than $4.3 billion on musical instruments in 2020, with experts predicting a steady annual growth rate of 4.42%. By the end of 2021, you can expect the sales to knock on the $4.5-billion mark.

So, which of the hundreds of music stores people trust more, as evidenced by their revenue? 

Find out in this list of the ten biggest music stores in the USA. Who knows, your dream musical instrument might come from any one of these.

1. Guitar Center, Inc.

With about 300 retail stores that offer music lovers and aspiring musicians only the best acoustic guitars, electric axes, drums, and amps, Guitar Center, Inc. is the country’s largest music retailer chain. Established in 1959, this music store steadily outgrew its competition, taking at least seven other music brands under its wing.

Industry experts say the company posted a $2.3 billion revenue in 2019, with the closest music store brand generating only $805 million. Such a performance can only mean one thing: people trust Guitar Center, Inc.

2. Sweetwater 

This 1979-founded Fort Wayne, Montana-based music store has humble beginnings as a recording studio on wheels. Eighty percent of its 1,500-plus employees are musicians, giving customers the kind of commitment and dedication they deserve.

In 2019, the company sold close to 150 thousand guitars, a substantial jump of about 20,000 units the previous year. This year, the company hopes to continue winning the trust and confidence of its growing customer base.

3. Sam Ash Music Corp.

It is a tight battle for second place, with Sam Ash relinquishing its hold on the number-2 spot to Sweetwater in 2019. While the reports for 2020 have yet to reach circulation, the Hicksville, NY-based musical instrument retail giant’s leaders are pretty optimistic they can regain their lost glory.

Established in 1924, Sam Ash is one of America’s oldest music stores. In 2019, it generated about $385 million in revenues, a $15 million increase from 2018 figures. Sam Ash Music is present in about 45 locations all over the US.

4. American Musical Supply

If you are looking for great amps, there is a good chance American Musical Supply has what you need. This Oakland, NJ-based music store is lapping at the heels of Sam Ash for the number-3 spot with its $350 million performance in 2019.

AMS continues to wow the music industry, bagging the On-Stage Dealer of the Year Award in 2016 and the Bizrate Circle of Excellence Platinum Award in the following year. It is not surprising this music store is blazing the trail.

5. Full Compass Systems, Ltd.

Many professional musicians source their gear from Full Compass, a retailer of more than 100,000 products from over 800 brands. The company also serves as the authorized parts distributor and service center of their partner brands.

Full Compass generated $140 million in revenues in 2019, large enough to put it as America’s fifth-largest music store. The company started small as a Madison, WI-based professional sound studio in 1971. Fast-forward several decades later, and Full Compass is one of the most trusted music stores. 

6. B&H Photo & Video

B&H may not be the music store you have in mind because it carries a wide array of professional equipment, mainly videography and photography. However, this 1973-established Manhattan, NY-based music store also offers professional audio equipment, including musical instruments.

What is spectacular about this $101 million music store is that it started as a small storefront film shop. Today, it offers a wide assortment of professional equipment. Who knows, you might learn a thing or two about how the company managed to open a musical instrument store alongside photo-video equipment.

7. Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center

In 1958, Chuck Levin opened his very first music store in Washington, DC. People love the brand because of its reliable advice, honest opinions, goodwill, and attention to detail. You might even ask them for an affordable guitar brand, and they will give you a straightforward answer.

With its unparalleled customer service, exceptional prices, and huge inventory, it is not surprising to see this music store as one of the country’s biggest. In 2019, the brand generated about $100.65 million, enough to propel it to the 7th spot.

8. J. W. Pepper

This music store is one of the country’s oldest, serving American and global musicians since 1876. What surprises most people is that this music store does not sell any musical instrument. Instead, they specialize in music sheets for orchestras, bands, vocals, and choirs. Whether you play an instrument or a part of an ensemble, J.W. Pepper has a sheet for your music.

Because it specializes in music sheets, it is fascinating to learn that this company could generate $90 million in 2019. That is a feat worth noting.

9. Steinway Hall Retail

When it comes to pianos, very few music stores can match the piano-playing public’s trust and confidence in Steinway Hall Retail. From their Essex and Boston pianos to collectors’ pieces, Steinway Hall is one of the biggest names in the American music store scene.

The retail’s first store opened in 1866, making it one of the country’s most enduring markets for sourcing high-quality pianos. In 2019, it sold $65 million worth of pianos, a 1.5% increase from the previous year.

10. Alto Music

Alto Music prides itself on having the most extensive selection of musical instruments for the modern artist. There are guitars, recording equipment, keyboards, drums, and gadgets for orchestras and bands. 

Established in 1981, Alto Music is a multi-awarded music retailer with three locations in New York City, including a professional audio showroom. It is one of the country’s biggest music stores, generating close to $60 million in 2019, posting a 6% increase from 2018 figures.

Conclusion

There are many reasons why these brands are the ten biggest music stores in the USA. People trust them to deliver only the highest quality products, matched with impeccable customer service and a strong desire to improve how the world makes and appreciates music. So, if you are looking to buy your dream musical instrument, it would be wise to check what these music stores have in store for you.

Guitar Junky
Hi there, I’m Charles, chief editor here at The Guitar Junky. I'm a professional guitarist, and have over 10 years experience in playing guitar, piano, and other music instruments. When not working, I love playing with my two lovely kids, Caryss and Philip. Read more about our team of music experts here.

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