Thursday, July 05, 2007

Striking a balance between music and fun

Quick follow-on from the death of Fopp. There's greater discussion of it at this Times article on the new "Rough Trade" store. It's a few days old, so it talks as if Fopp were still a living, breathing musical beast, but it sheds light on the position of the supermarkets:
"Although Tesco rang up record profits last year and increased its share of the music market, it did so by squeezing prices so hard that it lost money on the CDs it sold."

Looks like HMV and Rough Trade are trying to become more "cafe"-style-oriented-whatnots: grab a drink, sit down, browse the net, play games, etc. Music comes in there somewhere.

If done right, I think that could work. Strike a deal with last.fm, or set up your own recommendations thing, aim for the rich people who bring in laptops, or provide some simple web-terminal-cum-radio thing, get people to set up their profile or plug an existing one in, and let them listen to recommended music. A "modern" service might even get customers to recommend things to each other - maybe some kind of "request a recommendation" system that would let you post your favourite band, acquire similar recommendations, and then wait for you to come back and check it.

I guess you have to have both things though - a decent system for recommendations/sampling and a place that people actually want to go to. A wifi'd up cafe is nothing - I can get that from anywhere. Similarly, I can get recommendations through last.fm, amazon, even friends yeeikes. But serve up a personalised sampler CD with a hookah (are those things illegal too now?), throw on the odd silent disco and you've got a winner, baby.

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