Retail Trends

How The Music Industry Is Making The Most of Pop-Up Stores

Courtesy: Selfridges
Written by Tom Coleman

The music industry has always used launch events to promote new releases, whether it be through exclusive album listening parties or meet and greet events. Recently however, musicians have begun to use pop-up events to create unique experiences where their fans can engage with them and shop for their newest releases, whether that’s music or merchandise.

Although musicians have often been the pioneers of pop-up events, many artists are starting to diversify the way in which they use pop-up stores not just to sell commercial goods, but to promote themselves as a brand to be identified with. Whether it be using pop-up stores to further explore the concept of their latest album or tour, or to promote side projects outside of music, pop-up stores are being consistently used to generate fan engagement and further project their identity onto the public.

The following artists recently used pop-up stores to great effect, capitalizing on a chance to gain additional publicity, encouraging a frenzy of fan engagement and driving record sales. They prove that you can get a lot out of promoting yourself or your band and the brilliance experiences provide over just focusing on the music.

Photo Papi Kirkwood – abc.net

1.Arctic Monkeys

After a 5 year gap between albums, the Arctic Monkeys decided to pursue an interesting strategy to promote their new album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Rather than release singles or appear on TV shows, they decided to host pop-up events in 6 cities around the globe to spread the word about their latest release.

The primary purpose of the pop-up shop was to sell the album, but not just through CDs, but vinyl and cassettes also. Across all three formats, the album could be purchased in silver or gold, the latter of which was exclusive to the pop-up store, giving fans a real incentive to visit and get a one of a kind purchase.

Photo Papi Kirkwood – abc.net

The interior of the store was furnished in a futuristic, minimalist way that reflected the sci-fi aesthetic of the album, set in a hotel in space. The merchandise on sale also varied from the expected, such as posters and tote bags, to slightly more niche items like hotel key chains in keeping with the concept of the album. Screenings of each band member’s favourite movie were also on display. This was the perfect way to re-introduce their fans to their brand and their distinctive personalities, while also ensuring that people bought the new album.

The first week sales of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, driven by the pop-up, were incredible. The Official Charts Company reported first week sales of 86,000 in the UK alone, with 24,500 of these being vinyl copies of the record. Without the exclusivity of the editions in the pop-up shop, the band could never have achieved this record breaking sales week, and earned themselves a lot of publicity from hosting the pop-ups alone.

2. Wizkid

In 2016, Vogue announced that Wizkid was the best dressed Nigerian singer. It therefore was no surprise that he decided to jump into the world of fashion with his own clothing line, Starboy. To announce his new endeavor, he launched a surprise pop-up shop selling a range of branded t-shirts, bomber jackets and hats, previewing the collection on Instagram before its debut at a pop-up store in London the next day.

Wizkid was in town because he was performing at the AfroRepublik festival being held at the 02. Hosting the pop-up shop was key because it acted as promotion for his gig, while the gig promoted his pop-up store and therefore the Starboy clothing line

The Wizkid pop-up store was therefore the perfect example of how artists can use their side project to promote their music and vice versa. While both the festival and the clothing line got heightened publicity because of the pop-up shop, Wizkid’s personal brand identity benefitted the most from the events and reinforced his reputation as Nigeria’s coolest and most popular star.

Courtesy: Selfridges

3. The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones are icons, with songs known by generations of fans and iconic performances, outfits and logos instantly familiar with the general public. To capitalize on the interest generated by their ‘No Filter’ tour, they launched pop-up shops in London, Manchester and Birmingham to sell merchandise such as t-shirts, hoodies and jackets. However this wasn’t just any merchandise, it included items from Levi’s and Comme de Garcons as well as leather jackets hand painted by Schott.

However, to engage with die-hard fans, they also filled the pop-up stores with an exhibition of rare items that chronicled the band’s past. Including outfits from their 2013 Glastonbury set and a look at their first ever vinyl box set, the pop-up store was the perfect opportunity for those interested in the band to have a blast of nostalgia.

Those not lucky enough to have a ticket to their latest tour also had the opportunity to watch their Havana Moon concert in Cuba on screens around the pop-up store, and could listen with headphones in the store. Their pop-up store wasn’t just a cash grab, instead it was an opportunity to reward fans and remind them why they became obsessed with The Rolling Stones in the first place.

Rihanna Puma Fashion Show

Image via CelebMafia

4. Rihanna

Rihanna routinely experiments in the world of fashion with Puma Fenty and Fenty Beauty, and has become a powerful force disrupting the music and fashion industry. Her recent pop-up shop for her new lingerie line, Savage X Fenty, not only played on brand loyalty but also helped further her reputation for releasing products tailored to those often excluded by mainstream brands.

Using a warehouse in Brooklyn, Savage X Fenty created a space that highlighted the diversity and inclusivity of the brand. The actual retail store was located at the back of the pop-up shop, with customers first having to explore a showroom more like an art exhibition, projecting models of all body types and skin colors onto the walls. This proved Rihanna’s personal dedication, also evident in Fenty Beauty, to appeal to those whose looks often aren’t seen in high-end fashion campaigns.

Rihanna’s musical output was nowhere to be found in the pop-up store (the playlist curated for the showroom didn’t feature a single one of her tracks). However, Rihanna is an artist who knows that people are drawn to her identity first, which then attracts people towards her music. By creating a pop-up shop that reinforces the idea that she is an authentic, groundbreaking pioneer, she generated plenty of goodwill for when her next musical release drops.

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London Popup open today only x

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5. Shawn Mendes

To launch his latest album, Shawn Mendes held a pop-up shop in London, selling a range of merchandise and the new record, which played in the store throughout the dayBy announcing the store just a few days in advance, he created a frenzy of excitement that resulted in huge numbers of fans turning up to get a chance at being the first to get their hands on new merchandise. As the items were only available that day, there was extra incentive for fans to make a purchase.

Anyone could access the pop-up store, but in a bid to generate extra buzz, fans could also enter a competition to meet the star. They were also permitted to browse the pop-up shop as they wished, meaning they could easily shop for souvenirs to remember the day.

Shawn Mendes’s pop-up event was the perfect example of how to build relationships with fans through the use of a temporary store, engaging fans on a different level and give them an experience they could treasure.

The music industry has learned to use pop-up stores to great effect. Artists are using pop-up stores to ensure the continued fan loyalty and engagement while increasing record and merchandise sales at the same time. Pop-up stores therefore are the best way artists can grow and develop their fanbase with more than just music.

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About the author

Tom Coleman

Storefront Contributor - Tom Coleman writes about the retail industry, specialising in the pop-up sector. Currently an undergraduate at the University of Exeter reading English and History, he splits his time between Hampshire and Cornwall, UK.