[Dixielandjazz] Don't Count CD's Out Quite YET.

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Nov 14 08:52:37 PST 2006

Though CD's may be dead . . . there is a niche market developing for them.
Kind of interesting is that jazz is disproportionately represented in the
unlikely places selling them, such as Starbucks, The Gap, Pottery Barn,
Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods and even the Sunglass Hut. And now,
Nordstrom's. (see below)

If you are a Starbuck's drinker, you know they've offered jazz CDs for a
while. And several years ago, Starbucks "Hear Music" launched a 24-hour
digital music channel with XM Satellite Radio (XM Channel 75), the Starbucks
Hear Music Coffeehouse in Santa Monica where customers can select from over
15,000 CDs or burn their own custom mixes, and the Starbucks Hear Music
media bars, a service that offers custom CD burning at select Starbucks
retail locations in Seattle and Austin. Starbucks Hear Music CDs are
featured at Hear Music and Starbucks retail locations. (You can hear some
Louis Armstrong on them in addition to the more modern jazzers.

Steve Barbone

Joining Nordstrom¹s Piano Players, Racks of Selected CD¹s for Sale
Nordstrom¹s offerings will include a jazz CD by the British artist Jamie

NY TIMES - By MICHAEL BARBARO - November 13, 2006

The upscale department store Nordstrom, which has taken a chance on
up-and-coming designers like Tory Burch, Rachel Roy and Phillip Lim, is now
betting on a different set of rising stars: musicians.

Beginning this holiday season, the retailer will develop and sell a
collection of CDs that, over time, is expected to rival the one carried by
its corporate neighbor in Seattle, Starbucks.

The move, which Nordstrom is scheduled to announce today, appears to be the
first instance in decades of a national department store making a serious
commitment to music, a business long ago ceded to specialty retailers like
Tower Records. 

But one by one, those stores have closed or filed for bankruptcy as music
has moved online, creating an opening for traditional merchants to jump back
into the business. The CD market may be shrinking, these retailers argue,
but consumers still purchase millions of them every year ‹ and might prefer
buying them at stores where they already shop, rather than making a separate
trip to a music outlet.

In an interview, Peter E. Nordstrom, the president of merchandising at the
department store (and the great-grandson of its founder), said, ³The
traditional way people bought music in the past is clearly changing. We want
to take advantage of the fact that we have a lot of customers coming through
our doors that the music industry is interested in.²

The Nordstrom music collection, to be sold online and in stores, will
comprise established bands, like the Beastie Boys, and relatively unknown
artists, like Jamie Cullum, the British jazz performer.

At first, the department store will sell roughly 20 titles, a figure that
could reach 50 in 2007. Eventually, Nordstrom may construct listening
stations that play the CDs inside its 156 stores in the United States.

The goal, Mr. Nordstrom said, is for the merchant to be ³considered a
tastemaker² in the music industry, much as it is now on Seventh Avenue. ³We
are not getting away from our core business, but this is a logical extension
of the fashion business.²

Nordstrom executives admit they are a bit late to the music party. The Gap,
Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods and even the Sunglass Hut have
developed small music collections that, theoretically at least, reflect the
tastes of their customers.

Then there is Starbucks, which has emerged as a powerhouse in the music
industry (and now the book business). A collection of Ray Charles songs,
called ³Genius Loves Company,² released in 2004, won several Grammy Awards
and sold 800,000 copies at the company¹s coffeehouses.

But department stores have remained wary of music, tuning it out altogether
or carrying a handful of CDs in a single department, like juniors.

³Why have we not tried to do this?² Mr. Nordstrom recalled asking his
colleagues after visiting Starbucks and Pottery Barn stores. So Mr.
Nordstrom, who plays bass in a band called The Mellors and owns a small
music label called Loveless Records, reached out to his friend and music
executive, Michael E. Barber, founder of the Barber Entertainment

Together, the pair developed a set of CDs ‹ some exclusive to the chain,
others widely released ‹ that would suit Nordstrom. (Classy, fashionable and
hip, according to the company, which already serenades shoppers with a piano
player in its stores.)

They chose Vanessa Hudgens¹s ³V,² Justin Timberlake¹s
³FutureSex/LoveSounds,² John Mayer¹s ³Continuum,² the Beastie Boys¹ ³Paul¹s
Boutique,² and ³ Disney¹s Family Christmas Collection² ‹ each carried in an
age-and-gender-appropriate department of the store.

The company said it would also offer two exclusive CDs: an introduction to
music by Mr. Cullum, and a compilation of songs by Marvin Gaye. An exclusive
Chet Baker CD could come as early as next year. Prices range from $12 to

It could prove a tough business, at least at first. At clothing chains like
Hot Topic, a mall-based store aimed at teenagers, CDs have been slow to take
off, analysts said.

Just how big could the music business become at Nordstrom, which is best
known for its fashions and footwear? The company said CD sales would provide
a relatively small but steady revenue stream.

³We would not be doing this,² Mr. Nordstrom said, ³if we did not think there
was a chance to sell some product.² 

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