Joe Ballantyne writes:
I was browsing in the wonderful Rough Trade record shop in Notting Hill the other day, and I noticed that they’ve started an ‘album club’ service. For a monthly fee they send you a new album, chosen from a selection and tailored around your musical preferences.
At first glance, this looks like a rather counter-intuitive business decision – half the fun of going to Rough Trade is about rummaging around the racks in search of lost gems. If CDs arrive on your doormat every month, even with Rough Trade packaging wrapped around them, there’s less chance of randomly coming across a few titles that you feel you may just have to take home. It also seems quite old-fashioned, in an age when music distribution is increasingly digital and consumers are supposed to be sovereign.
However, the idea of the album club seems to fit into a wider trend we’ve been observing recently – ‘choice editing’. Consumers are exposed to an ever-growing selection of goods, services and brands (and the number of CDs released every year remains high despite falling sales) – but at the same time there is some evidence that we’re less interested in spending time sifting through them. Making choices takes time and energy – both resources which we are short of. The choice editor becomes an trusted (and expert) friend who can cut through the market noise.
Perhaps in future, it won’t be endless choice which is going to be seen as a luxury – but rather, being able to pay others to make our choices for us. But only a few companies have sufficient credentials to earn that trust.
The picture – of Rough Trade West in Talbot Road – is from the Rashbre Central blog.