Treasure Aisles

music_StreetlightStreetlight Records’ online tweets spark in-store treasure hunts
Within minutes of the announcement, a handful of die-hard Bright Eyes fans were combing the aisles of Streetlight Records in Downtown Santa Cruz, flipping through the albums and scouring the oft-overlooked bottom shelves—a singular, 140-character long hint resonating in their minds:

“Bright Eyes LP treasure hunters: It’s here! Clue: It resides in the section of the artist who is Greek & has recorded songs in 12 LANGUAGES.”

It didn’t take long for one intrepid hunter to spot the fiery red, orange, yellow and black cover, hidden in the Nana Mouskouri vinyl section.


Other searchers cursed their luck, but Adam (whose last name could not be determined by press time) smiled proudly for the camera as he held up his treasure: a signed copy of The People’s Key, the latest effort from Omaha indie titans Bright Eyes.

In the hours and days that followed, many more filed through the record store’s doors—tipped off by the tweet, which had been pushed out under the official “StreetlightSC” Twitter handle at 5:11 p.m. on Feb. 16.

Store supervisor Cat Johnson acknowledges that “a few people were disappointed that they didn’t get it.” However, overall Johnson says Streetlight’s third Twitter treasure hunt “definitely generated a buzz.” And that buzz, Johnson is sure, ultimately translated into business.

“People go crazy for the twitter scavenger hunts,” says Paige Brodsky, marketing coordinator for Streetlight Records. “The element of getting something for free, and the fact that it’s vinyl and from one of your favorite bands—you put all those things together and they go nuts.”

Streetlight belongs to the Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS), an organization that helps organize promotions among a network of indie record shops throughout the country. Brodsky says that CIMS got Bright Eyes on board with the Twitter treasure hunt, and has aided in two previous contests at Streetlight, which had fans root around the store for Pearl Jam and Jimmy Eat World releases.

“It generates a lot of excitement and it gets people in the stores,” Brodsky says—which, in her industry, is more than half the battle. “With our business, the big challenge to achieving financial success is getting customers in the door.”

Once they’ve done that, Brodsky says, people will often find something they are interested in, and may even buy a record or a movie.

To maintain that excitement, or that “buzz,” as Johnson puts it, Streetlight strives to maintain an online presence that is persistent but sincere.

The record store uses all of its online outlets to advertise promotions and contests, but it also uses its networks to pose questions and simply shoot the breeze.

And then there is the blog post, picturing a very happy Adam. He is beaming and quite clearly “stoked,” as Johnson puts it. And for good reason: “He got something you can’t buy.”

Johnson, who runs the blog and contributes to the Twitter and Facebook accounts, says she hopes Streetlight’s social media efforts will rise above the pitfall of banal self-promotion. She says she and her colleagues are also working to capture something less tangible.

“A lot of what we’re doing with the social media stuff is like chatting behind the counter, but we’re doing it online,” Johnson says. The Twitter treasure hunts are all a part of that goal.

“The reason we work here is that we’re all into music,” Johnson says. As such, she and her coworkers really just want to talk about music. Through social media they are able to do so with a much wider group of like-minded audiophiles, even if those music fans are out of town or too shy to talk when they come to the register.

Ultimately, so the thinking goes, if Streetlight Records can win the hearts and minds of its “followers” and “fans,” all of Brodsky and Johnson’s virtual social networking will translate into real life social networking, and, last but not least, sales.

“The primary thing that we’re trying to do with the social media stuff,” Johnson says, “is remind people that there is a physical store here with people who are into music and into talking about music.”

For information on the next treasure hunt, follow Streetlight at twitter.com/StreetlightSC. Streetlight Records Santa Cruz is located at 939 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. 421-9200.Photo Credit: Keana


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