Are three buzz phrases enough to capture the excitement of anecdotal evidence of retail's return? Maybe so but I think it's truly exciting that the vinyl resurgence has helped fuel both new sales of physical music (especially vinyl and CDs) and the opening of new retail outlets that sell music as part of a larger experience. UK-retailer HMV is reporting a successful comeback with a wide range of in-store events while Josey Records is an example of a new indie retailer in Texas that aims to be a "cultural center around music."
While we can't give the vinyl resurgence all the credit, the success of Record Store Day has been one factor in giving music retail a fresh look. Vinyl has become symbolic of physical music as something more than a storage medium. Though vinyl's not the whole story, it symbolizes an alternative to digital access, one that can take on personalized meaning even when mass produced though creative short runs are an important aspect of this phenomenon.
HMV's Event-Driven Comeback
This comeback has been driven, in part, by live in-store events including a Paul McCartney autograph signing.
Retail offerings beyond music and media have been refocused on items such as music merch. As Chairman Paul McGowan stated:
"All we are doing is making sure that when you come to our stores you enjoy the experience...This is about being an authority in music, not selling music as a commodity."
Josey Records: Retail as Cultural Center
"a 15,000-square-foot record store containing give-or-take 100,000 vinyl records"
Stock will feature used vinyl but they'll also have some new vinyl as well as CDs, DVDs, books and magazines. In addition they'll have have an art gallery as well as in-store events and record release parties:
“The whole idea of building a cultural center around music is what we’re shooting for.”
Fighting Amazon With The Power Of Place
Amazon rose in power by killing margins and getting rid of the limits imposed by brick and mortar retail outlets. The retail outlets that are surviving turn those limits into a difference that allows them to compete on their own terms and to create mini-worlds in which shoppers come for an experience Amazon cannot provide.
[Photo courtesy Will Russell.]
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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) recently launched DanceLand. Send news about music tech startups and services, DIY music biz and music marketing to: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.