CD production a future for the record store?">On–demand CD production a future for the record store?
More and more people download their music on the internet, and record stores are having a hard time. How come I’ve never heard anyone talk about on–demand CD production in the stores?
The rapid decline in the number of record stores was discussed in a program on Swedish Radio P2 a couple of hours ago. (Mitt i musikens veckomagasin, SR P2, May 24 2010, 17.00) This is hardly surprising since most people buy or download their music on the net, and so, many (most?) Swedish towns do not even have a dedicated record store any more.
Since the year 2000, the number of record stores has halved every five years, from far more than 1000 stores in 2000, to 613 in 2005 and only 304 as of today. If the trend continues, there will be 150 stores left in 2015.
Judging from what I heard in the radio program, which is summarised in this article, it appears that record store owners are trapped in a Catch-22. It is too expensive to keep a broad supply of titles, so most stores have reduced their supply. Unfortunately the same supply is readily available online which means that the record store provides little or no additional value to the customer.
What surprises me is that nobody seems to discuss the opportunity to produce CD’s on–demand in the stores. If I was in the music industry, I would surely think in terms of on–demand production and find solutions equivalent to the Espresso Book Machine highly interesting.
Imagine a record store equipped with a high–quality professional quality CD burner that produces durable discs quickly as customers wait by the desk. There is also an on–demand case and booklet printing machine that swiftly produces a glossy folder to accompany your CD. By the way, scrap today’s lousy plastic cases. Use something better, with better functionality and looks.
What record stores need to do is provide additional value that the average music downloader cannot get from downloading music at home.
The customer who goes to a record store should not only get a physical product, but a service enhanced product. I would equip my on–demand record store with good listening possibilities where potential customers could sit down while they enjoy a coffee break.
Other examples of additional service could be seminars where you get the opportunity to listen to critics, experts or musicians themselves. Of course, it would not be realistic that every record store provides full world class services or perhaps not even the opportunity for a cup of coffee. But my guess is that there is a market for store owners who use their imagination to provide services beyond a piece of plastic with some music on.
An on–demand CD and booklet production machine targeted for use in record stores could change the nature of the business drastically and provide a future for the record store.
With on–demand production you would not even need to stick to the pre–packaged produced records as provided by the music industry today. It would be easy for the store owner to market his own “blends” with an accompanying booklet with interesting facts about the artists or genre. And since there would be no inventory involved, it would be possible to offer a long tail of music with low turnover, e.g. by new artists or art music for those with special interests.
Does this sound like a realistic opportunity? I believe that it is, and that what I’m describing in this article is a real and unexplored gap in the market that music industry strategists (if there are any?) should rush to fill. And although music is not my business, I’d love to have one of these stores around in my town where I could go and listen, explore, learn about and get the music that I want.
- You may also want to read my response or update to this post that was published on January 10 2012: “Spotify makes CD’s feel like 78 rpm records”