Thursday 15 January 2004

Music Retailing Sucks

So as I was shopping for CDs the last few weeks, it hit home that music retailers really have missed the boat on how to sell music. The problem is that it is assumed that you know what you want to buy beforehand and hence the store is organised like a library for you to find the CD and go buy it. For this to work, demand has to be generated through radio or some other media or through word-of-mouth. It basically assumes that you've already made the purchase decision before coming into the shop. This is stupid.

This system favours only the latest hits and most popular CD's which you're likely to hear in the media. Meanwhile the back catalogues are growing bigger and bigger all the time but it's hard to discover the great songs they contain. It would make so much more sense for a music retailer to organise around helping you to find some great new music to listen to.

The current retailing methods that are employed are to tell you what's new and what's popular and provide a few music listening stations (which many people won't use as they consider them unhygenic). Some stores let their staff write up recommendations. That's it.

I'm not a retailing expert but here's some ideas about what they could do:

  • provide displays that groups similiar music together
  • show how CD's are related to other CD's through trends or artists
  • provide information and displays on seminal recordings in particular genres
  • provide recommendations for what makes up the must-have CD's for specific genres
  • create music discovery workstations
  • provide reviews of CD's from trusted sources with the displays
  • allow you to return CD's you didn't like
  • allow you to bring your own headphones or borrow clean ones for the listening stations

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