Other Music Continuing To School Everyone, Whether They Like It Or Not

Apr 22nd, 2008 // 27 Comments

othermusic.jpgThe folks at New York’s Other Music are held up as an example for other businesses looking to enter the online world in a big profile in BusinessWeek that focuses on the shop’s digital-download store, which launched last year and now accounts for about a quarter of its overall sales. Sellouts! Ha ha, just kidding. In a terrific synergy of listicling and turning an article into a photo gallery for maximum clicks, the editors at BusinessWeek have compiled a list of eight lessons one could learn from Other Music’s success, all illustrated with “arty” shots of the store’s shelves and signage. But! “Go online so that people intimidated by the clientele and/or employees of your store feel more at ease spending their money” was somehow not on the list, perhaps because they couldn’t find an appropriately surly counter-guy photo to illustrate said lesson. [Business Week]

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  1. Catbirdseat

    Ouch, you just hurt my brain: “Listicle” cannot be used as a verb form

  2. Maura Johnston

    @Catbirdseat: language 2.0!!!

  3. Clevertrousers

    Yeah, but there is simply NO circumventing surly counter guy when selling your promo CDs…

  4. brandonsoderberg

    The secret about Other Music is that it’s a pretty terrible record store; the Urban Outfitters of record stores. If one knows anything about anything, it’s only entertaining to be there for about five minutes because you’re either bored with the selection or because you want to punch the clerk who thinks bumping the latest Soul Jazz comp still makes him cool.

  5. the rich girls are weeping

    In all seriousness, every time I get Other Music’s digital store update, I am simply floored (i.e. recently signing on the Cherry Red catalog). I’m glad they’re getting some props for quietly building an amazing little business plan that works.

    And it all makes sense, really — crate divers unearth forgotten gems; instead of dealing with the huge costs of repressing out-of-print items, small labels can distribute rarities through Other Music’s digital store instead of going with iTunes or another bohemoth. It’s so elegantly simple.

  6. Chris Molanphy

    Personally, I’ve always found the shelves at OM surlier than the people, if that badly twisted description makes any sense. Flipping through the racks there, I feel instantly unhip (then again, I feel unhip pretty much day-to-day); l whereas the folks behind the counter seem decent and relatively unaffected given their place of business.

  7. Clevertrousers

    @brandonsoderberg: Psssht. Sour grapes, dude. How many other record stores had a Tinariwen instore?

  8. Clevertrousers

    @Chris Molanphy: True, they’re actually pretty damn nice and helpful there. You want a-hole attitude, try Kim’s… Ugh.

  9. NickEddy

    “Go online so that people intimidated by the clientele and/or employees of your store feel more at ease spending their money”

    More than happy for the opportunity to say anew that “God Save the Clientele” was the best record of 2007. Carry on!

  10. mike a

    Chris: right on. The real secret about Other Music is that their staff is actually quite friendly and helpful. OK, they can get surly when dealing with used CDs, but that job would drive a saint nuts. On the other hand, the “La Decadanse” section is a recurring punchline in my house.

  11. Clevertrousers

    @the rich girls are weeping: I heard that another online specialty store – Calabash Music – is using the same IT backend as OM’s digital store. Makes since, since Calabash only does world music and deals mainly with indie and botique labels. It’s a model that makes alot of sense.

  12. brandonsoderberg

    Ha, I didn’t say they were surly, I just said they annoyed me (I’m not sure what I’d have sour grapes about, I don’t run a record store..).

    I end up in New York once or twice a year and find that little’s changed about the store’s older (or sorry, “Out”) selection and that there’s just a generally frustrating sense that these guys- as I already said- think they do anything more than run the Urban Outfitters of record stores.

    OM’s dependable which has its positives but that sort of contrasts with the with-it attitude it hopes to convey. My favorite activity used to be to cross the street and buy the same records at the TOWER, when it was there.

  13. Lucas Jensen

    @mike a: Who sells used CDs back to stores? I still make way more online.

  14. Dickdogfood

    Jesus, the last time I felt intimidated by a record store clerk was like twenty years ago at Sam Goody’s. Why feel intimidated by someone with the maturity level of a twelve-year-old?

  15. Dickdogfood

    (Sorry, Maura…that came out more asshole-like than intended. Not directed at you.)

  16. Maura Johnston

    @Dickdogfood: It’s OK. But I should probably reiterate that I can be pretty shy in person!

  17. Dickdogfood

    @Maura Johnston: I’m brutally shy! But the number of interactions I’ve had with record store clerks at Kim’s, OM, et al. have been vanishingly small, and I can’t even recall ever getting any kind of reaction at the checkout counter. (The interactions I can recall were actually polite, even overhelpful.)

    On the other hand, I am a BOY.

  18. the rich girls are weeping

    BTW, I should mention one of the perks of being a girl who knows a lot about music is that the record store clerks are almost never surly to me. Ever. EVER.

    As a matter of fact, they either:
    a) stare at my boobs.
    b) gape, open-mouthed, as I out-trainspotter them over some frivolous point.
    c) stare at my boobs.
    d) totally flip out over whatever I’m buying.
    e) stare at my boobs.

    One of my very old friends from Austin is occasionally the “asshole at by the door” at Other Music. I find it hilarious that anyone would ever be intimidated by him in the slightest.

  19. the rich girls are weeping

    Finally, I must express my love for the dudes who work the floor in the vinyl/dance music section in the basement of the Union Square Virgin Megastore. Seriously, they are the sweetest, and always make me laugh.

  20. rogerniner

    At my old store, we were extremely helpful a friendly. Sure we had a few assholes on the staff, but that is why we hired them. Pure entertainment. Yet people would always assume we would be jerks right off the bat. I hated that. However, moving to SF and shopping at Amoeba… I would love to attend one of the stick-in-ass-insertion parties they have for the new hires.

  21. rogerniner

    @the rich girls are weeping: That’s so rude! ….

    … sorry, did you say something?

  22. pantsonfireliarliar

    Man, are you guys trying to sell back your Spin Doctors CDs? I’ve had nothing but good help from OM.

    BTW, Tower sucked a** in its later years but I have strangely fond memories of hunting through the Books and clearance store a block away in the 90s.

  23. Clevertrousers

    @the rich girls are weeping: or f.) all of the above…

  24. rocknrollwife

    I concur with the rich girls….I’ve never encountered the snobbery. I’m not sure if boobs are really the reason why. I think it’s a primeval alpha-male thing.

  25. rogerniner

    @rocknrollwife: And the fact that Rich Girls shops topless.

  26. the rich girls are weeping

    @rogerniner: Dude, that would send people screaming. I am built like a battleship, after all.

    That’s not to say that I don’t wear low-cut things when record shopping, at the very least!

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