In an interview with Billboard to coincide with Record Store Day, Rough Trade Retail’s Stephen Godfroy has spoken about the future of music retail as he sees it. Specifically, he notes the importance of recognising changes in the way people consume music and embracing them, rather then trying to block them out. Godfroy said: “Music retail is volatile only so much as it’s in a perpetual state of flux, an eco-system so fragmented and complex, it defies generalisation. We now live in a post-digital era, where multi-format consumption morphs to reflect whichever offer is most relevant to each individual at any given time. Someone buys a smartphone, they then change their relationship with music accordingly. The same person then walks into Rough Trade, and they change their relationship with music once again”.
He continued: “There is no ‘all conquering’ format, behaviour, offer – it’s complementing and co-existing that matters. We recognise that our biggest competitive threat isn’t another music offer, it’s how people chose to spend their time. Our response is to create destination experiences that defy convention, that have no precedent, where purchase is just 1% of a much more rewarding, meaningful and memorable occasion”.
He explained: “Very soon, we’ll also be rolling-out our Rough Trade Card, which allows customers of our London stores to automatically enjoy download copies of the physical items they purchase in-store. Our tills marry the offline purchases with the customers online account, creating a seamless multi-format, multi-channel offer. It’s a world-first, developed by us, something we expect to prove very popular when we introduce into the US later in the year”.
Earlier this year, Rough Trade launched a new digital service in partnership with The Guardian. The Tracks Of The Week initiative will offer subscribers a weekly six-track download EP covering all genres except classical and compiled utilising The Guardian’s editorial expertise and Rough Trade’s artist and label connections. The weekly compilation will feature pre-release tracks and some exclusives, and will provide – Rough Trade say – “a trusted, valuable, convenient and fun way to keep abreast of the best new music”. The new subscription service will cost £2.99 a week, though a month’s free trial is available to Guardian readers.
Rough Trade co-owner Stephen said: “In this post-digital age, where all music formats are enjoyed together for their respective merits, we’re delighted to offer, in partnership with The Guardian, a music service that offers genuine digital value and excitement for the music lover. Not knowing what you’re going to receive each week replicates the thrilling sense of adventure felt in our offline stores, providing customers a priceless moment of trusted discovery, surprise and joy – characteristics at the heart of any Rough Trade store experience”.
The Guardian’s music chief Caspar Llewellyn Smith added: “Everyone knows how tough it is out there for record stores at the moment, but the Rough Trade shops are a real success story, largely because of the passion and expertise of their staff. We hope the same is true of the Guardian’s music coverage, and by working together through this new partnership, we’ll be able to help point fans at the good stuff. I love the sense of serendipity involved in Tracks Of The Week. What could be nicer than getting six new, hand-picked pieces of music arriving in your inbox each Friday?”