You can find great deals on just about any record or CD you're after. You just need to know where to look.
SONIC BOOM (512 Bloor West, 416-532-0334)
Want a cheap copy of a just-released punk or hiphop CD? Sonic Boom's retail strategy of volume, volume, volume means it'll likely turn up here first. The catch is that you need to be there when it arrives and plow through a few hundred unalphabetized Barry Manilow, Lindsay Lohan and Green Day discs to find it.
RIC'S COLLECTIBLES (155 Main at Gerrard, 416-690-6399)
Ric's has loads of trad jazz, classic rock, folk, soul, country and disco along with piles (literally) of 7-inch singles at very reasonable prices, but be prepared to spend a few hours digging.
COSMOS WEST (663 Queen West, 416-861-9228)
Most people don't associate bargains with Cosmos (607 Queen West), the city's premier rare groove vendor, but owner Aki Abe has opened a second Cosmos store further west on Queen and stocked it with heaps of great bop and post-bop jazz vinyl priced to sell in addition to hiphop and disco singles and some 70s rock LPs.
LOST N FOUND (974 Bathurst, 416-538-2788)
A welcome addition to Toronto's second-hand record retailing community, Lost n Found is already developing a niche by stocking the vintage stoner psych, Euro-prog, hippie folk and sample-friendly fusion records you won't see in any other store. And the prices are well below those you'd pay on eBay. You'll also find limited-edition reissues of obscenely rare private-press curios on heavy-weight vinyl and CD.
Toronto is silly with throngs of promising artists, all of them itching to find venues to perform in. Lucky for local music fans with limited incomes, that results in a bonanza of cheap - or free - weekly events.
WAVELENGTH, Sunday nights at Sneaky Dee's (431 College, 416-603-3090), pwyc
A Toronto institution since it kicked off in 2000, the stellar weekly pwyc indie night remains a community-oriented hotspot for seeing offbeat bands - the Constantines and Broken Social Scene are Wavelength alumni - on their way to (sometimes cult) stardom.
OPEN MIC NIGHTS, at various venues in the downtown area, usually free
If you're into being the first person to discover total unknowns (or enjoy being part of a workshoppy process), Monday's a great bet to check out tons of free open mic nights. Skinflint students can take in free stages at the Free Times (320 College, 416-967-1078), the Tranzac (292 Brunswick, 416-923-8137) or the James Joyce (386 Bloor West, 416-324-9400), or haul ass down to Kensington Market to hear the next Alun Piggins at Graffiti's (170 Baldwin, 416-506-6699).
NU MUSIC TUESDAYS, Tuesday nights at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West, 416-598-4753), free
Radio-savvy scene stalwart Dave Bookman selects a mind-boggling array of rising bands for his regular Tuesday showcase at the 'Shoe. Amazingly, it's totally free. And more likely than not, Bookie's hooked up a sweet headliner; Jayhawk drummer Tim O'Reagan tested his solo stuff here a few weeks back.
HIGH LONESOME WEDNESDAYS, Wednesday nights at the Silver Dollar (486 Spadina, 416-763-9139)
Before bluegrass got trendy, some of T.O.'s finest fingerpickers - a loose-knit group known as Crazy Strings - hunkered down for weekly hoedowns at the delightfully dingy Silver Dollar. Frequent guests include mandolin master Dan Whiteley, Andrew Collins, Mark Roy and the banjo-playing Chrises (Coole and Quinn). Plus, the booze is dirt-cheap. Yee-haw.
TSOUNDCHECK, Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe, www.tsoundcheck.com)
If Mahler and Mozart are more your bag and you're age 15 to 29, check out the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's TSOundcheck initiative. You're eligible for cut-rate tickets ($12) to most TSO performances (subject to availability) at Roy Thomson Hall. All you require is a TSOundcheck membership card (available at RTH or online at www.tsoundcheck.com), and you can start checking the site for upcoming tix (available up to a week before scheduled events).