In addition to his long and storied career of producing for bands like U2, the Rolling Stones, and Dave Matthews Band, Steve Lillywhite serves as the executive of a company that packages CDs with meals at Kentucky Fried Chickens in Indonesia. In a new New York Times piece, Lillywhite explains the lucrative market for these bundles:
CDs are still the No. 1 way to get music in Indonesia. In Indonesia, CDs are $4. And since nearly all of the record stores have closed down due to the cheap influx of pirated CDs, KFC is really the only place to buy them these days. People no longer go out to buy CDs on their own, but they do go out to buy chicken. And now buying a CD has become part of that experience. We even do concerts at KFC with some of our artists. So music and chicken have become intertwined.
The artists involved with KFC are exclusively Indonesia-based for now, though there are plans to expand to a more international roster. “My job is basically like running a record label, except this record label also happens to sell chicken,” Lillywhite explains. “Record companies pitch artists to me and I’ll say either ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Or I’ll approach an unsigned artist and say, ‘I will guarantee you a slot in KFC if you sign directly with us.”
The phenomenon of selling CDs alongside fried chicken will most likely not cross overseas, or at least to the fast food chain’s founding country — the restaurant “doesn’t have any plans to bring this to the U.S. at this time” — but it is a fascinating look at how music is consumed in other cultures!
You can read the full NYT piece here.