With Circuit City gone, the Virgin Megastores on their way out and Borders cutting down on shelf space, record labels are looking at less and less locations to hawk physical products. However, in the past month, EMI has announced a couple ventures that will get their artists into your neighborhood grocery and convenient stores, places where few musicians have set up shop before.
No, we're not looking at more artist-branded Fritos in the snack aisle or small music selections at the check-out as labels have done in the U.K.; EMI is integrating its artists into branded impulse buys like pre-paid debit cards and lotto tickets.
Starting in the second quarter of this year, the British label will begin a partnership with Myplash, which makes pre-paid Visa debit cards adorned with athletes, musicians, brands and other custom designs. At their local grocery or big-box stores, consumers will soon be able to pick up cards branded with artists from all over EMI's roster -- we're hoping this extends to DFA so we can finally flash some Black Dice plastic at the checkout counter -- and earn points toward physical and digital merchandise. Cardholders will also receive discounts and promotions when they purchase EMI music directly through Myplash's e-commerce site MYPLASH MALL.
The move is designed to encourage teens to put their money into pre-paid Visa cards so they can spend money online, where they'd normally be locked out of without a credit card.
EMI's second new venture will, on the other hand, be officially off-limits to teens. Soon, adults will be able to walk into local convenience stores and buy instant-win scratch-off cards with musicians on them, thanks to a new deal with Pollard Banknote, a Canadian company that makes the cards for markets across the globe. In addition to the usual small dollar denominations, customers will be able to win downloads, ringtones, merch or "one-of-a-kind" experiences with artists.
Who knows how much these partnerships will really be worth to EMI, but they're notable attempts to find revenue streams that are independent of traditional retail spaces, and they seem like relatively straightforward ways to maximize assets that EMI has already invested in. And, of course, they're yet more examples of recorded music as a new "value-added" item for other, more profitable products.