Music Business

Whole Foods Adds Vinyl But It’s Not A Bubble Yet!

Whole-foods-logoFor folks concerned about a vinyl bubble, Whole Foods' addition of vinyl to a select group of stores is surely confirmation that the end times are nigh. Yet any serious bubble watcher knows this is likely just the beginning of a broader appreciation and monetization of vinyl that will go beyond vinyl sales alone. In Whole Foods' case adding vinyl is both a marketing move and a possible sign of the transformation of Whole Body departments into Lifestyle Stores.

We're actually at the beginning of building the vinyl bubble so don't worry about being late. Plus there's lots more ways to make money off this thing than straight up vinyl sales. For example, Carrie Brownstein and various folks in advertising cashed in off vinyl in this American Express commercial from earlier this year. I assume the shoot location got some rent as well so that helped out one shop.

Over the last few days, word has spread via web media that Whole Foods is adding vinyl sales to a small group of stores. For Whole Foods this may primarily be a marketing move. For music distributors this
image from dvp14a235i3p5.cloudfront.netrepresents another vinyl outlet. For media it represents monetizable pageviews. What's not to like?

Whole Foods' announcement of vinyl sales in 5 of their southern California stores came out early this month but it seems that news has only spread online as vinyl has appeared in the stores and special events have been held.

The official announcement name checks "Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones, Daft Punk and Bob Marley" which should be a reminder that vinyl sales are far from a hipster phenomenon alone. LSTN Headphones, made with reclaimed wood and providing additional benefits to the Starkey Hearing Foundation, will also be featured.

An epicenter for Whole Foods vinyl will likely be the West Hollywood Lifestyle (or LifeStyles) Store pictured in this Facebook post. The Lifestyle Store is located next to the West Hollywood Whole Foods and is apparently a further development of Whole Foods' Whole Body departments which do have their own space at other Whole Foods.

The kickoff event in West Hollywood sounds rather amusing:

"The event is swarmed. Valets scurry to park cars while those in attendance slurp oysters and crunch gluten-free pita chips. Two Mercedes get into a honking match and the sound-guy shouts: 'Shit just got real in the Whole Foods parking lot.'"

While Whole Foods getting into vinyl may sound like the peak of a bubble, there are plenty of good reasons for them to do so.

There's an immediate marketing effect with national coverage off selling vinyl in just 5 stores.

There's a longer term marketing effect from getting in on vinyl before it's played out as a signifier of such intangibles as "cool" and "hip."

Vinyl is a valid and colorful product line that fits in with the growing range of non-food items Whole Foods offers.

Vinyl seems like an ideal product to transform the Whole Body concept into LifeStyle Stores for a public company that has to keep growing.

Adding vinyl makes a lot of sense for Whole Foods, at least at select locations. If the very thought makes you cringe, toughen up. It's only going to get worse.

If you're glad to see vinyl in more locations, then look forward to more developments along these lines. Hard to say how far this can go but it's good business while it lasts.


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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