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What music looks like in Tesco right now

Friday March 16, 2012

What music looks like in Tesco right now

Earlier this week Digital Music News posted a story This is
what the music section now looks like at Walmart
showing how in a Walmart
outlet just outside Austin, Texas music had shrunk to one small island unit in
a sea of LCD TVs.

By coincidence I passed by Tesco in Hackney, east London
that very day and decided to check how music is doing in there.

And this is what entertainment looks like in Tesco right
now, just one metre for games, video and music…

tesco steve blog 1

And in case you missed it, the music "department" is just
that bottom shelf…

tesco steve blog 2
What it contained was one Emeli Sande CD, three Lana del
Reys, one Essential Whitney, three Bruno Mars, five Now 80s and - hidden behind
the Nows - two Rihannas, a grand total of 15 CDs.

Now the Hackney store is by no means the biggest Tesco in
the country and no doubt many Tesco outlets carry a much broader selection, but
it should come as a chilling wake-up call to those who doubt how fragile
music's position is right now in the nation's supermarkets.

Last year CDs accounted for 80% of the albums market and
supermarkets accounted for around a third of that - roughly 26% of the albums
market overall.

Tesco entertainment director Rob Salter has made it clear in
recent years that music has been in the last chance saloon. It is labour
intensive to stock, margins are low and and an anachronistic returns system
means unsold product is expensively re-packed and returned to labels often just
to be destroyed.

Tesco's space allocation to music had already halved in
three years. If the Hackney store is any indication, that process is

Salter has urged labels to do more to make music a more
attractive proposition both to consumers - and to retailers. The standard
vanilla CD simply doesn't cut it any more, he says. He has suggested a number
of options, most notably bundling some digital rights with the CD, allowing the
disc to act as a bridge for currently physical-only music fans to move into the
digital world.

So far his words do not seem to have been heeded.

It's not a problem for Tesco. There are many other things it
can sell with far higher margins. It's not a problem for other retailers. Some
of them may well benefit in the short-term.

Those really set to suffer are the labels and artists. The
fewer places there are to buy music, the less music will be sold.

Salter believes the answer is in the labels's hands. But the
message from Tesco Hackney seems to be that no one's really listening.

Posted at 09:15
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