“What did they used to call that, the kind of music that used to be playing in supermarkets?” Well, whatever the proper term is, Ex-Dragon frontman Mario Escovedo says that’s a new direction Requiemme, his artist-management company, is taking. Meaning, tracks supplied by local indie rockers such as Maren Parusel and Hills Like Elephants will be heard playing as a soundtrack for shoppers in mall stores.
“MAC Cosmetics executives heard Maren Parusel’s song ‘Dear Love,’ and they said they wanted that song playing in their stores.” Escovedo says that he was first contacted by PlayNetwork, a Seattle-area company that produces instore music and video messaging for a variety of retailers, including Macy’s, Urban Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret, Old Navy, and Holiday Inn. “Hundreds of major stores,” Escovedo says.
“At first, I didn’t want to be any part of their service.” But he says he researched the company and learned their first client was Starbuck’s, “and they did a good job for them. PlayNetwork models background store music for younger markets.” Escovedo says that instore soundtracks are programmed to fit each subscriber company’s individual demographics, which is a long way from the elevator music of old.
Following talks with PlayNetwork, Escovedo says he agreed to not only license some of Parusel’s tracks, but he agreed to put selections from other artists signed to his San Diego–based catalog into their system as well.
“Artists are paid per play, not unlike radio,” he says. “Except that PlayNetwork guarantees a certain number of plays per year around the world.” He says Parusel is excited about an opportunity that in years past had been considered to be something of a sellout by other recording artists. “She felt it was a compliment to be asked.”
Escovedo has operated Requiemme for the past five years while manning the news assignment desk at a local television station. He thinks this new connection with PlayNetwork may allow his company to “see some profits on the horizon.” That said, he admits that his tastes in music are eclectic. “I don’t imagine these songs will get played in a Vons or a Ralphs. It’s not that kind of music.”
In what kind of store does Escovedo see Hills Like Elephants getting air time? “The Gap,” he says. “Maybe a clothing store, as opposed to MAC. But that all remains to be seen. The days where a band like the Black Crowes can come and tear down a [sponsor] banner hanging behind them are long gone. Musicians have to be concerned with making money.”