Music Business

Amazon To Open Physical Store In Manhattan, Success Could Lead To More Retail Space For Music

BezosUntil now, at least for me, the face of Amazon has been images of Jeff Bezos and a variety of local delivery personnel from the UPS, USPS and Fed Ex. Now Amazon is making a move that will put some New Yorkers face to face with Amazon employees. The store will be located not far from Macy's and will initially serve the public via returns/exchanges and online order pickups. But inventory is expected to follow making this experimental effort one that could ultimately lead to more cities and hopefully more retail space for music-related merchandise.

Amazon Already Handles The Physical Just Fine

In recent years Amazon has led physical music sales while iTunes has dominated digital music sales. This has often been perceived as a mixed blessing for Amazon given the continued weakness in physical sales despite the current bonanza of vinyl.

But suddenly that perceived liability has become a potentially huge opportunity for musicians. It begins with Amazon's first physical store in Manhattan, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

According To "People Familiar With The Plans"

WSJ's report is based on one of my favorites, unidentified "people familiar with the plans." Bonus: they also spoke with unidentified "people familiar with the company’s thinking." That's the best of all in my opinion.

Here's what these spies and snitches betraying their organization had to say:

"Amazon’s space at 7 West 34th St., across from the Empire State Building in Midtown, would function as a mini warehouse, with limited inventory for same-day delivery within New York, product returns and exchanges, and pickups of online orders."

"The Manhattan location is meant primarily to be a place for customers to pick up orders they’ve made online, but will also serve as a distribution center for couriers and likely one day will feature Amazon devices like Kindle e-readers, Fire smartphones and Fire TV set-top boxes"

Manhattan at Christmas is a Gigantic Marketing Opportunity

Of course the marketing angle is huge. Said to be expected "in time for the holidays," Amazon will benefit from this first wave of coverage followed by a wave of official pre-opening coverage followed by a wave of actual opening coverage followed by a wave of coverage featuring people picking up their precious gifts for relatives and babbling about it excitedly to reporters followed by a final wave of people returning and exchanging gifts after Christmas who are so relieved and happy about how easy it is.

Plus this is a part of town where literally millions of shoppers and tourists wander the sidewalks on an annual basis.

Can It Lead To More Retail Space For Music?

If Amazon stores become the equivalent of Apple Stores plus returns/pickups, then this isn't necessarily huge news for the music industry. But if Amazon does grow a chain of stores it seems inevitable, given everything we know about Jeff Bezos, that they will ultimately be carrying a much wider range of inventory because he wants to run the whole thing.

While this will ultimately lead to a huge shakeup in retail whose outcome would be hard to predict, it could easily lead to not only more shelf space for big and trendy music merch but for in-store events as well.

Given that music is often used to make something, almost anything seem cool, there's a lot of potential in Amazon going bricks-and-mortar.

[Photo: "Bezos' Iconic Laugh" courtesy Steve Jurvetson.]


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) recently launched DanceLand and is relaunching Crowdfunding For Musicians. Contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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