Zune Plants Roots in Los Angeles

New Space for Work, Art, Music Events Opens Up Backdoor to Local Music Scene

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For those who think the Zune might soon be going the way of the Diamond Rio , hold onto your iPods. Microsoft has signed a three-year lease on a space they've dubbed Zune L.A., which is equipped to function as both an office and invitation-only club for music and art events.

From the LA Times:
Jamaal Layne, project manager for Zune L.A., likens the experience of entering the space to "walking into an actual Zune [player]."

Zune L.A. has hosted private events for groups such as CAA, and for now its offerings will remain invitation-only. Musicians such as Janelle Monae and former Black Crowes guitarist Marc Ford have already performed at Zune L.A., and former Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker will launch his line of New Era hats this month.

Its next event, on Tuesday, is a screening of "Joy Division: The Documentary" (followed by a 90-minute DJ set from Joy Division bass player Peter Hook).

Says Stephenson: "We envision Zune L.A. as a cultural hub."
While SFS would be a little frightened to step into a Zune for fear of electrocution, a dedicated space for Zune events seems like a smart idea. Zune-sponsored shows are nothing new, but a real brick-and-mortar venue where Microsoft's brand can put roots in an artistic community -- or foster one of their own -- is a great opportunity to connect with "influencers," which seems to be their backdoor strategy of competing with the ubiquitous iPod. The merits of this bottom-up game plan are debatable, but if Microsoft wants to position their player as a bold antidote to the mainstream, this shows a serious commitment to that purpose.

That said, we're not sure that former members of Black Crowes or Blink 182 are really going to draw this sort of audience. It's probably too soon to say what kinds of music acts will be showing up in this space -- which is, according to the Times, outfitted for band performances -- but let's hope for some moxie in the musical curators; there's plenty of innovative, riskier bands like No Age and HEALTH right in L.A., and many of them are awesome and brash enough to make Coldplay look like Yael Naim.

Photos here, courtesy of Nylon.

[Via LA Times]