A band that was always close to its fans got even closer when Linkin Park played a secret show inside New York's SoHo Apple Store last Thursday night (you can read all about it here). They called it a "warm-up for their Madison Square Garden show," but the buzz generated by the band's 200-person boutique concert outweighed and overshadowed anything they did in the arena. Concerts may be big and bombastic, but it's the Surprise of a secret show that grabs the attention.
While some may say the Linkin boys may be just a little past their prime, you can't get any hotter a venue than an Apple store these days (they've become the primary gathering zone of the hip; the "New Starbucks" if you will). Which got me to thinking...
You've got two industries on shaky ground (the music biz and the retail sector), and both shaken by the same hand--the digital revolution. Yet, like two negatives multiplied make a positive in algebra, it seems that pairing bands and stores may be a tonic from which both can benefit.
The bands will bring in traffic. Every show will be packed. They can sell music, merch and seed fan bases.
Individual stores or retail chains (whose backing would spawn more "tours" than one-offs) will not just jam their locales at off-hours, but associate with the all-important image-generator of modern music. (And who says it has to be modern? There are a lot of old-school artists who can use--and generate--some intimate, in-store lovin').
Working together, this concept can break new bands, introduce new products and multiply audiences. It would breathe new life into stalwarts looking to renew, like The Gap and Starbucks (who can go from selling CDs to selling live shows). It would give label-less talent a chance to play live, not just on MySpace.
This ain't exactly a new concept. Record stores did this for years, but except for a scant few, they don't exist anymore (and they're not where kids get their music anyway). And the use of malls to launch teen faves (like Tiffany and Debbie Gibson) was a fad during the '80s.
But it is a new world. And as we've said over and over at Surprise Central, everything new is old again.