Inside the Iowa Music Store

Jacob Beals

When it comes to music production, cities like Nashville and Los Angeles come to mind. But Ames offers its own close-knit music industry with the Iowa Music Store at 300 Main Street. 

In 2012, the Iowa Music Store started exclusively as online only. Since last year’s grand opening, the store has found its home in the Main Street Cultural District as a physical store. 

The Iowa Music Store serves both Maximum Ames Records and Nova Labs, which are two Iowa recording labels. 

Customers are greeted at the front desk when they walk into the store. New album releases, posters, banners and even a basket full of free items, which includes stickers and buttons of local bands, surround the desk.

Two racks to the right of the desk are dedicated to CDs, vinyl records and cassette tapes. Store owner Paul Hertz said many people continue to buy music from mediums like cassettes and records because they love the design and uniqueness of them.

The store also features a unique selection of zines, which are handmade publications that feature fiction, comics and music articles. Roach Motel, a central Iowa zine distro, produces the designs, which often look like smaller magazines with more artistic style and details.

The Iowa Music Store offers a variety of posters, many of which are handmade, featuring artistic depictions of Iowa bands and advertisements from events. Some notable posters include the first Maximum Ames Music Festival posters, as well as posters from each festival.

A T-shirt section that looks like it was taken out of a clothing store exists across from the posters. The T-shirts feature a wide variety of colors and styles, all supporting local Iowa bands and their logos, slogans or lyrics from songs.

The back of the store contains the stage area. The area is complete with a microphone, amps and a lighting and sound system. It’s designed for a smaller audience of between 30 and 40 people.

Artwork from local artists surrounds the stage. Many of the paintings are abstract but give the stage a unique feel.   

Artists from around the Ames area perform several times a month at the venue. The Iowa Music Store also hosts an open mic night every Sunday, which is free and open to people who want to show off their talents.

“It is unique as a music venue because it is so small,” said Iowa Music Store intern Kyle Folvag. “It allows performances to be more intimate.” 

The Iowa Music Store recently made a compilation album between Maximum Ames and Nova Labs, which features a variety of songs from artists that are featured in the store.

For more information about The Iowa Music Store and its upcoming events, visit its website.