If you work at a record label in this day
and age, the quickest way to bring a meeting to a grinding halt should be this: “What about expensive, niche, super-fan box sets? And vinyl?”
But that was the question David Griffith, SVP Marketing at Sony Music Entertainment, put to his colleagues.
And the answer — still in its soft launch — is Pop Market, a flash-sale site in the vein of Gilt Groupe.
Pop Market sells the stuff of audiophile dreams — a remastered collection of all 830 of Elvis Presley‘s recordings, a Bruce Springsteen set that includes 21 unreleased tracks and a reproduction of his lyrics notebook — at discount prices.
But it’s not the discounts Griffith, whose background includes marketing stints at Viacom and Gartner, is relying on to drive sales. After all, these items aren’t exactly steals either way.
(Case in point: A $700 deluxe Yo Yo Ma box set was priced at $500 on Pop market.) Rather, he’s bullish on Pop Market because it cuts out a lot of legwork for music lovers.
“From a catalogue standpoint, there are just fewer places to purchase these things now,” he says. “Retailers are focusing on expanding product lines in other areas — most of the inventory goes into front-line releases. These deluxe sets don’t have a place in retail.”
Of course, one might argue that the main reason for that is: they don’t sell.
But on Pop Market, they are selling — in limited editions, with units typically numbering between 100-2000.
The aforementioned Ma sale sold out in under 24 hours.
So has every vinyl offering Pop Market has put out there — including a 4-LP Michael Jackson “This Is It” soundtrack bundle.
And — lest you think only genre snobs are shopping — a Weird Al Yankovic collection sold out completely on April Fool’s Day.
So what doesn’t work?
“We tested an ‘American Idol’ collection, and that didn’t do well at all,” Griffith says. “Things we’ve skewed towards younger audiences haven’t done as well.”
There it is — the other way to stop a music-sales meeting cold. Yet Griffith is OK with it — at least for now. He thinks the kids will need time to figure out what they’re missing.
“Beyond just having something to hold, what’s great is hearing the story behind the album,” says Griffith. “When I was younger, we would sit down and read everything on the album, front to back. You got a deeper experience with the artist. I miss that when I’m just listening to songs on my iPod.”