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In-Store Live Music: A Thing Of The Past?

by John Asante
Apr 20, 2011

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John Asante

When someone tells me that I should go spend my money at a place where musicians play live music, well, a few places come to mind. Obviously, this includes concert venues and bars. And fancy eateries. And authentic Mexican restaurants.

But when I found out that some Nordstrom stores have pianists play for shoppers a few days a week, I was surprised and intrigued. Come to think of it, I've never been in a Nordstrom, but I'd go just to see someone dance their hands across the ivory keys and play some jazz and Broadway tunes. Don't believe me? Take a look ... before they're gone.

The L.A. Times Culture Monster Blog reports that "Nordstrom has been gradually cutting back on its in-store pianists in recent years." Technically, each store manager can make the decision of whether to employ a live musician in his or her facility.

Will this hurt the brand? And was there another reason for the layoffs aside from a way of saving when sales revenue is low?

Part of me thinks it's a cultural change. Typically, when you walk into a clothing store, music flows from the speakers, which is supplied by a satellite radio station or a CD of some sort. I'm sure this differs from store to store, but from my days in retail, this is what I can attest to. But I'm also seeing a lot more people tending to put in those earbuds, turn on that iPod, and immerse themselves their own world of music. It's almost a way to disconnect from the mood a the manager of a store would like to achieve with a live musician, like Nordstrom has been doing. Yet some of us just want to get in, buy something, and get out.

Is it worth the effort to treat customers to live music these days? Who knows? If certain temperature and lighting adjustments can influence shoppers to spend just a little more dough to get that jacket they always wanted, the extra push may be worth it.

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