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Why a Music-Themed Salon Would Be a Great Space for All Music Lovers
THE reason why I have used French in the title...
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of this piece is because, when we think of a salon, we might have images of literary figures and intellectuals from times past. Maybe ‘salon’ is not the right word for this proposal: perhaps calling it a café or venue would be closer to the mark. I have written pieces around music cafés and whether we have anything like this in 2019. I would still like to kick something like this off because there are very few spaces music lovers can go and connect. We have record shops where we can bond and find like-minded souls but, largely, there is very little interaction between those who love great sounds. With more and more coffee shops springing up, isn’t it time to utilise the endless chains of faceless coffee places and actually give them purpose?! I do not get a lot of time to socialise but, when I go out at the weekends, I often head for coffee shops. It is fine being there but you do not get great music and the atmosphere is not great for the most part. One gets a nice mix of people but I often sit in there, read a bit and then leave after half an hour or so. I do look around London and, apart from live venues, there is nothing really that is catered for those who want to listen to music, chill with their similarly-orientated peers and discover something new.
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Maybe it would not be as intimidating and, frankly, pretentious as a salon but there are people who want to go somewhere you can listen to some great music and grab a brew whilst you’re at it. I think we are becoming less sociable as people and spend a lot of time online. Imagine a shop/space where there is music being played. I have been thinking about what I want in life and I think, more than anything, there is a desire to bond with people who think the same as me. I think a salon/café where people could go and converse – or just listen to music – would be great. I like the idea of making it a place to listen to music and buy. I love the cassette vending machines they have in some parts of the world. One could buy a classic album on cassette in a very cool way. There could also be a music-themed tuck shop where you could buy some merchandise and cool music memorabilia. The centrepiece would be record players and cassette/C.D. players where you could take a record/album/single from the racks/shelves and play it. One might say that the noise and clash of sounds would be offputting but there would be noise limitations and ways of blocking sound so that patrons are not disturbed. One could put an album on the record player and spin it; a few people could gather around and listen or one could take a cassette player and listen to an album in private.
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I also like the idea of putting music magazines, both classic and modern, in addition to music books – whether biographies or other themes. If you want to broaden your mind and read about a certain artist/time of music, you could grab some literature, sit back and have your privacy. If you want to be more expressive and conversational then there would be great album to play and you can discover some new sounds. Of course, there would be technology among the older kit. A screen section would allow people to play music videos and people would be able to play what they want. In terms of décor, it would be less French and intellectual: the inside would be more like a U.S. record store or something with a bit of nostalgia. Maybe it would be 1990s-themed/looking but, throughout, there would be a clash of the modern and vintage. I do find a lot of people get hooked on modern music and do not spend looking back. We all need to be a bit broader and balanced and this venture – whatever it would be called and wherever it would start – would be a cool space where many different people could interact and discover cool stuff. From classic albums and concert films through to music memorabilia, rare vinyl; retro vending machines and live-streamed radio stations.
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You walk through any city and there are plenty of bars and cafés. I know they are profitable and respond to market forces but there is not a lot of variety on the street. One has to go to very particular areas if they want to discover something unique and unexpected. I love the idea of walking into a building and seeing classic videos playing or a chance to learn more about music. Perhaps this steps on my pitches regarding music bars and cafés but I do not like solely staying on the Internet and getting all of my music from there. It makes sense that, if one wants to chill out and get a bit of sonic nourishment at the same time, a business like this would take off. Perhaps I am a dreamer but I think there would be profit in it. There would be drinks and snacks, for sure, but nothing too heavy – the food and drink side of things would not take over and be the main focus-point. I feel all music fans miss out on interaction and we do lean largely on streaming sites and the Internet. Buying albums is quite expensive so having somewhere you could play them and not have to pay would be great. The way the business would make money is split between food/drink sales and an actual shop that sells a lot of great products; from T-shirts and rare memorabilia through to posters, cassettes and other assorted goodies.
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It sounds like, from what I am saying, this is going to be like moving back in time and clinging onto the past. That is one side of things but there is a big nod to the new and upcoming. Maybe there would be little in-store gigs like you get from record shops. There would be live radio and streaming facilities and a mixture of albums one could buy. I look around pubs and coffee places and there is not a lot of interaction between strangers. That is a natural thing – how many of us break from the pack and take that chance? – but, if you know you have something in common with others, wouldn’t you do something about it? Having this modern-day salon would help bringing artists and music fans together; give this comfortable yet open area where we could share music tastes and memories; buy some cool older music and look at what is upcoming and fresh. I would like all of that and there are many others who share my sentiments. With venues closing and instability prevalent on the high-street, there are inherent risks opening a business that relies on passing trade and people refuting the lure of the Internet. Because this business – I really should give it a name! – offers something you cannot get from the Internet (that connection and some awesome products that would be more expensive online); I feel there are legs and the chance for expansion. It seems like a cosy little idea but, I dunno, it is somewhere I would love to go and see in town! Others would come in and, before long, something unusual and much-needed would get word-of-mouth spreading and trending. The only problem is, like other similar pieces I have written, is what…
IMAGE CREDIT: Nick Taylor
TO call the blooming thing!