The only music I've ever seen at a grocery store has been in those New Age CD displays, where you can push a picture of a waterfall and hear the sounds of rushing water or a photo of Machu Pichu and you hear Andean flute music. If you're crazy enough to like this sort of thing, you can pick up the CD and fill your home with mood music like a Glade plug-in. But besides that, who's shopping for music when they're busy squeezing tomatoes or ordering sliced deli meats?
Whole Foods thinks it knows the answer. Yesterday the grocery chain announced a new initiative with Inspire Entertainment to bring the first of what it hopes will be many hand-picked CDs to its stores. Apparently, there are already 130 stand-alone displays for music in the company's stores, and Whole Foods has been selling a small selection of discs at the check-out for some time now -- although SFS has never noticed them before. Inspire claims the displays have tripled music sales, although who knows the kind of scale that's on.
The first artist in the Whole Foods Artist Discovery Series will be Greg Laswell, currently signed to Vanguard Records, a historic indie label that was once the home to the Weavers and Paul Robeson. Laswell's second LP is due from Vanguard this July, but before then he'll drop the EP "How The Day Sounds," which will be sold in Whole Foods locations this month.
This news arrived within a week of Starbucks' announcement that it would be scaling back its Hear Music Label by handing off "day-to-day operations" to Concord Music Group, the indie label it's been working with. But, as opposed to Starbucks, Whole Foods doesn't appear to be entering the record business with its own label, and it's not clear if Laswell's new EP will be an exclusive in retail locations.