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Brief Published: 26 Jul 2017

Local Retail Activism: Selfridges Launches Music Venue

Selfridges Music Matters

Trading on the increasing value of taking an activist stance, British department store Selfridges is channelling a localised brand of social advocacy by temporarily transforming the 3,500 sq ft Ultralounge events space in its London store into a live music venue – a direct response to the capital’s dwindling club nights and live gig spaces.

With 40% of London’s music venues having closed in the last five years (LondonFirst, 2016), the space, sponsored by Russian vodka brand Smirnoff, presents an enticing alternative. At least until October 18, when it too will be transformed into something new again.

Part of a three-month campaign called Music Matters that extends to the brand’s Manchester and Birmingham stores and online, the 170-capacity venue will host ‘happenings’ for established artists every Thursday night (‘Selfridges Presents’), with new talent getting an opportunity to showcase themselves on Wednesday evenings (‘New Music Nights’). The futuristically restyled space will feature a central stage enveloped by transparent screens featuring cutting-edge visual content.

Embracing the wider brand shift from retailer to media entity (see Retail’s Brand Broadcasters), at least one track from each act will be broadcast live on Selfridges’ website. 

The initiative entirely aligns with the brand’s long-held activist attitude, which has ranged from eco-activism (see Project Ocean, 2011) to the debate surrounding gender and identity (see Contextual Commerce). However, it also shrewdly plays on the booming experiential economy, where experiences are becoming as key to young people as products. For more on this, see Active Flagships and Music Meets Retail.

See also Retail’s Activist Brands (publishing August 10), Brands Take a Stand and Next-Level Dept. Store Strategies