Founder of FAMS, Tobago Benito and award-winning hip-hop artist, Busta Rhymes (screengrab from FAMS Instagram)

FAMS or Forever a Music Store has found a new way to bring prosperity into the Black community. They look to understand the challenges in building a business and meet them with solutions—to build a legacy that will live after our time. The Los Angeles Sentinel had an exclusive interview with the founder of FAMS, Tobago Benito, he explained the overarching goal of creating more Black-owned businesses through vinyl stores opening up across the nation.

The idea was incubated at Summer Camp, a place where record store owners, record labels and   other music companies gather under one communion to examine the business. Benito noticed there were no other Black-owned record stores present; he wanted to start building the growth in that space. According to Benito, alarming numbers show that out of approximately 2,100 nation-wide record stores currently in business, under 60 of them are Black-owned, resulting in less than 3% of record stores across the nation are Black-owned. Benito wanted to change that.

“When I initially went out there (Summer Camp) back in 2018, I was the lone African American store out there—they may have had 400 stores out there and I was the lone person in 2018 and 2019,” Benito said it was discouraging to see he was the only urban vinyl store present, he talked with founder of Summer Camp and was inspired to start the FAMS coalition.

Tobago Benito at 2022 Summer Camp (Screen-grab from FAMS instagram)

FAMS got off the ground with Benito’s solid partnership with Nina Smith, they created a vetting process to acquire the collaboration and teamwork of other Black-owned record store companies. FAMS began to gain recognition after the promotion of Beyoncé’s latest album, “Renaissance,” all of the record companies under FAMS umbrella got Renaissance a week before any other store— this is the unity that Benito is looking for from all Black artists in the industry, he emphasized the importance of converting their projects into vinyl records.  Benito highlighted some industry statistics, 2022 was the biggest year for vinyl sales since they’ve been keeping track around 1991.

Under the FAMS coalition, there are about 30-50 stores that are Black-owned, and they look to expand. FAMS members discuss common challenges, and they look to support each other. One of the common challenges Benito mentioned was the lack of attention to Black-owned vinyl stores from major record label companies. FAMS coalition looks to create a solution around that and build unity around Black-owned businesses and record companies. Benito believes that it’s the start of a new chapter in Black-owned businesses in selling vinyl.

FAMS logo (

One of the partnerships that resonated with Benito is the FAMS partnership has with Ingram entertainment, they have supported the agenda for growth, and they met their promises with physical action. Partnerships like these assist with FAMS growth exponentially.  The FAMS program offers mentorship and ways to educate entrepreneurs in opening up record stores.  It also fuels the development of the surrounding community stationed in Riverdale, GA. They are looking to provide a level of service during this coming Juneteenth celebration in their area.

Benito found that it’s important to support a Black-owned businesses because there is a need to feed the community and to focus on the future in driving traffic within Black-owned businesses.

Benito spoke on the importance of the circulation of money within the Black community, “ You invigorate your community, you’re creating excitement in the community. A lot of people, when they get their money, they take it out of the community, but when you spend your Black-earned dollars—you spend it in the community…at least you can see Black dollars at work.”

Benito has grown to be a part of his community in many different ways; he is an established owner of a real estate business and also has been an usher at his church.  Benito likes to garden and he’s married. He fathers one daughter and a grandfather to one granddaughter.

Follow FAMS on Instagram, @famscoalition


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