What Was Your Last Visit To A Big-Box Retailer’s Music Section Like?

Jun 9th, 2009 // 12 Comments

Last night I visited my local Target, and I decided to swing by its ever-shrinking music section just to see what was going on. What I saw were a lot of depleted shelves (including the new-release area, although that might have been waiting for today’s supply of Black Eyed Peas discs), many copies of Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak, and the fully-stocked display of Sony MusicPass cards that has remained pretty much intact since last year’s holiday season, save one card for Blake Lewis’ Audio Day Dream that was moved into the country section because someone was either trying to be “funny” or realizing that the whole MusicPass thing was pretty much a dumb idea and ditching it before they went to the checkout lanes. There were also two people in there browsing CDs!


You might not be surprised to learn that they were together, and they were looking at a Hilary Duff album while discussing her apperance on Law & Order: SVU earlier this year, and not her music. I have no idea if they bought the album, though, because I got distracted by the DVDs, which were much better organized, and even had their own area of items that were on sale–as opposed to the “new releases” area of the music section, which was haphazardly organized, full of empty space, and pockmarked with “for-sale” flags. Sure, part of that can be blamed on the comparatively higher volume of titles for sale, but once again, I was reminded that this is the future of music retail for people who don’t live in urban areas, yet want to actually venture out of their house in order to acquire music. And it made me wonder: Are things like this everywhere–or are they even worse? Isn’t it kind of an achievement that record sales are now at mid-’90s levels, given that there are so many fewer physical spaces where shoppers can even find what they’re looking for these days?


Also, how was that Blake Lewis card still there and not marked down? I am going to assume that Sony isn’t allowing returns on those cards at all, but c’mon, that is shelf space that could have been used for Law & Order DVDs, which were distressingly absent from Target’s shelves.

  1. I think the last time I was somewhere similar (a Wal Mart maybe?) they had a huge DISTURBED!!! divider. Like, “Hey, we carry DISTURBED!!! now! You know!! ooo aah aah aah aah!! Remember, you couldn’t buy them here before! But now you can! (cough it is edited cough)” Which made me wonder… Disturbed? Really? I understand understocked sections, but even the guys who stock them must have some sort of guidelines created by some sort of research. I didn’t quite think that was what the research would yeild.

    And in response to the Sony Music passes: While not quite the same store environment, I’m yet to be in a Best Buy that didn’t carry half the number of Bruce CDs as it did the number of passes to his album, Magic.

  2. Last time I actually looked around at a big box store was at Best Buy, and I was shocked that they were selling vinyl (this was prior to reading about that particular initiative). What they did not have was the Panic at the Disco Live album.

  3. I was in Best Buy recently myself and took a look through the discs — absolutely terrible selection. Every big name artist or group — Bowie, James Brown, etc. — only had “Greatest Hits” selections for sale or was so picked over that just the lousy stuff was left.

    However, this Best Buy did have instruments for sale. Maybe the kids are all just too busy making music to listen to it?

  4. I go to Target fairly regularly, and always browse the music section — mostly just to disgust myself, I think. Bad selection, of course, but also, the prices were ridiculous. Ciara’s last album, now “On sale” for $15.99? That’s just absurd.

  5. I was just in Target yesterday and saw a similar huge endcap with those MusicPas cards. I had the same thought as you except I was also wondering if they were even valid anymore.

  6. Picked up the new Phoenix album at Target last week for $7.99! I like browsing the “indie/underground artists” end cap to see what I can pick up for under $10. And it’s always interesting to see what offerings they have. I didn’t even know The Sounds had a new album out until I saw it at Target!

  7. Unless you want to get a mainstream new release then I never see a reason to go to Best Buy for music, they have nothing.

  8. The MusicPass cards are like iTunes cards: they have no value until bought. So there is no reason to mark them down as they don’t cost anything to Target, Best Buy, etc. On the other hand, I’m sure the MusicPass people pay Target for the endcap, so they probably making more money than if they had Law & Order DVDs on there.

  9. I got the new Grizzly Bear at Best Buy for $7.99 last week. Also the new Neko Case. I definitely appreciate the cheap prices on this kind of semi-indie stuff. Got the new Sonic Youth there yesterday for $9.99. I also check out the Target indie/underground endcap — a couple of months ago I found some “Target exclusive” Duke Spirit CD there that I didn’t even know about. Made up mostly of previously released material, but still… These stores are not good for catalog stuff, though I did find the Grizzly Bear Friend EP at BB last week.

  10. I picked up the new Phoenix and Passion Pit at my local Best Buy the other day. The selection was better than I expected, but Best Buy’s tend to vary in choices. My brief time with a small town Best Buy was an eye opener, where nothing was stocked on new release day at Noon(!) and they sometimes didn’t have certain Best Buy exclusives that had been advertised in the in store flyers. Also, Phoenix was only available on an endcap, without even a “Phoenix” cardboard divider in the “P’s”.

  11. My local Best Buy’s music section is thriving and doing very well. However, the Walmart’s music section is down to a half an aisle now.

  12. Funny this came up because I just visited a local Big Box store yesterday (Future Shop). As mentioned, all the Big Boxes carry are crappy “greatest hits” compilations which is so disappointing. On this particular visit, I noticed so many CDs that were filed wrong. Quite a neglected scene. It was also very evident that the music section has shrunk while the movie and game sections have grown. As per usual, I left the store feeling pissed off by the crap environment, poor selection, and dumb staff.

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