From clothing to snacks, coffee to whiskey, there is almost nothing on life's list of essentials you can't get delivered directly your door via boxed subscription services these days. You're even able to have a packet of vinyl records arrive via post each month, and thanks to a new service, Trax & Wax, dance music fans might soon have a reason to pay special attention. The UK-based company plans to follow the lead of the soon-to-relaunch Columbia House, as well as upstarts VNYL and Vinyl Me, Please, in offering a set selection of vinyl records delivered to subscribers each month. But while these other companies have set their focus on the classic rock and indie end of the musical spectrum, Trax & Wax is aimed squarely at the dance music aficionados, with serious underground bonafide labels Classic Records, Rush Hour, and Clone already committed to providing some of that sweet sweet wax.
We had Trax & Wax founder Manon Clayeux explain how it will all work once the service starts delivering later this year.
THUMP: Where did the idea for the service come from?
Manon Clayeux: Initially, the idea came from the rising popularity of box subscription services over the past year, such as Hellofresh, Pact, etc. The concept has been well received primarily in the food industry, and as a result, we wanted to introduce the same concept to the music industry. We started investigating the competitive landscape and found another service called Flying Vinyl but they were all about alternative rock music. We wanted a service dedicated to more niche genres within electronic music and talked to friends who shared the same vision. The idea of receiving a surprise box of 12" records from the genres and labels we love, every month, really intrigues us. Hence, we decided to develop Trax & Wax, out of both necessity and gaps in the market.
Do you view your target demo as DJs? Or is it more home listeners?
We aim to target both DJs and home listeners based in the UK to start with. People from other countries can also sign up for Trax & Wax but they will need to pay a shipping fee (at least in the early stages) — shipping will be included for all customers based in the UK. DJs aren't necessarily the main focus though, as a lot of DJs we've spoken to tend to be very selective about their records. In general, our target audience will consist of music lovers who are open minded and willing to discover new music. More and more people are liking the feel of vinyl records. And with vinyl sales surging (a 30% increase in sales in 2015) and the continuous growth of box delivery subscriptions, we believe there is a huge opportunity.
Music is a very personal thing. How will you "curate" for individual users?
We are aware of the challenges ahead and that music is very personal. That's why it's crucial for us to focus on a very specific audience in the early stages while clearly indicating the labels and distributors we curate from and that we target an audience who have already expressed interest for this type of music. Nevertheless, this is a surprise box, and we believe a part of the appeal is that you don't always get exactly what you expect, which in turn enables you to discover new acts and music styles, so you need to keep your mind open. More importantly, we have a vast knowledge of electronic music. Our team includes DJs, Producers and music lovers who have the right background and experience to create an unprecedented box of wax for our customers.
In a lot of ways, this service returns back to the days of DJ pools. Is that something you use for a model?
That's correct, it is similar in that customers will receive a selection of brand new releases on a regular basis. We'll also allow our customers to sign up for different packages that suit their needs as a vinyl fan or club DJ. Further, we'll enable labels to submit their new releases for consideration so that anyone has the chance to be included in the monthly box. In that sense, I think the model is similar and a perfect tool for both home listeners and professional DJs looking for new records to include in their sets.
How can other labels/distributors get their product considered for inclusion?
That's a great question and something we're thinking about as we develop the website. We'll most likely integrate a demo page on which labels can submit their releases for consideration every month. If we like what we hear we'll get in touch and order directly from the label.
Why 4 records (as opposed to 6 or 8)?
We wanted to be able to provide this box at a reasonable price. It made sense for us to offer 4 records to achieve the position we wanted to have in the market. It will enable us to fulfill our customer's requirement by providing a mix of classic records and brand new releases.
What if users don't like all of their monthly selections?
If customers don't like their monthly selections we will urge them to provide us with feedback. We are working on implementing a feature on our website where users will be able to rate each record they receive in their monthly box. This means we can improve the next box in response to their feedback and also get to understand which styles of music appeal to the majority of our customers. Ultimately, we aim to offer tiers where customers can customise their boxes by specific genres and record labels from month to month. We also plan on expanding into new genres so that we can serve a larger audience simultaneously.