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A Trip To Target: How Digital Is Changing Music Retail

Photo As music sales go further from physical CD’s and become all digital, many mass merchandise stores have been cutting down on shelf space and changing their marketing strategies in their music sections. Big stores like Target and Walmart have continued to sell music by partnering with artists and selling exclusive albums with more content or incentives attached. They have also changed the look of some of their music sections in-store.

On one of my trips to Target, I noticed something different about the Music and Movies Section of the store. The store had the usual music sections divided up into genres, but there were a few new sections and changes. One section that I had not seen before was called “Music For Your Mood”. The albums were divided into different moods such as romance, fun, family, escape, and live well. It’s evident that emotions and mood play a big role in music and Target is probably trying to pander to that. For artists looking to expand their music’s reach, creating work out music or music catering to certain emotions could be the way to go. (This music will probably be categorized under the live well section at Target.)

Another two sections were centered around price. With the competition of lower prices from digital retailers like iTunes and Amazon, Target and other stores have been forced to bring in their own deals. The two sections were labeled $9.99 and $4.99 deals. The $4.99 deals mostly consisted of older albums that were hits. This is similar to Walmart’s $5 CD bins except that the CD’s at Target are displayed on the shelves.

Photo(1) Other shelves in the Music and Movies section have been changed to keep up with popular entertainment. To capitalize on Glee’s success, Target has a section that promotes Glee with CD’s, DVD’s, and other Glee-themed merchandise such as clothing. Different ways to consume music will continue to affect these stores’ strategies and layouts. As one can see in Soundscan, physical album sales still outnumber digital album sales, but that will probably change as digital continues to take over.

As technology changes and ways to distribute music change, stores may eventually eliminate music sections. One day, big stores may take the whole music section out of the store and have music vending machines in their place. Who knows how these stores will look then?


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