by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & Selling Making Music & r & & r & So a minute ago, Fred Meyer announced it would begin selling vinyl in certain stores -- a creative partial solution to the precipitous fall-off of CD sales. Far from a complete solution, but not a bad idea at all.
Well, hot-ish on them heels comes an announcement by Best Buy that's nothing short of brilliant. Rather than replacing one type of media for another, they're replacing produced music with the means to produce music. Swapping CDs for, like, guitars and turntables and whatnot.
Whether it'll work or not is anyone's guess, but the thinking is right-on. The trend of technology broadly and the Internet specifically is this: Communication between people becomes ever easier and thus information -- news, video content, music, every form of idea exchange we hairless apes have dreamt up -- multiplies exponentially. People are ever more empowered to create and share information. These are normal folks now, blogging and video ranting and recording pop music and sharing it with whomever. The (monetary) value people had previously placed on such things -- music and film and news -- drops to zero because it's everywhere, easy to find.
That's why Best Buy's decision is smart. There's no money in selling music, but there's still a little money in making it. And in helping people make it.
There's at least one skeptic, though. "It's not a high-growth area and it's obviously going to take up a lot of [retail space]," said some shortsighted analyst or other in an AP report. There's truth there, of course. Fewer people are going to buy a Fender than bought Mariah's Daydream. Of course, nothing sells like Daydream anymore.
What that analysis misses is that, in the world of electronics, there are basically no more high-growth areas left. It's a fact of the day that electronics retailers are going to have fewer and fewer killer products to sell. They'll have to rely more and more on selling smaller quantities of more varied products. Faced with that environment, they're going to have to scrape around for cheddar the same places musicians do: wherever they can get it.