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Hard Rock Cafe expands from rock music, looks to China

Rock and roll was as synonymous with the Hard Rock Cafe as burgers and fries, but the venue is now expanding its musical taste to attract millennials.

25-year old Hard Rock Singapore, which has hosted the likes of Blondie and Def Leppard, recently re-opened the doors of its Orchard Street outlet after a spell of renovation, and while rock remains visible on the walls in the form of the brand's signature artist memorabilia, other genres have joined it.

Alongside Jimi Hendrix's guitar and Michael Jackson's jacket are now framed pictures of electronic dance music (EDM) DJs David Guetta and Deadmau5.

"We understand the change in demographics and music trends," Steve Yang, Asia Pacific vice president, told CNBC's "The Rundown" on Friday. "We used to be rock-centric but now we're embracing all kinds of music."

Hard Rock recently partnered with Singapore's well-respected music publication Bandwagon to hold weekly live sessions featuring local acts, a strategic move to attract the island's music-savvy younger generation, whose tastes range from jazz to metal. So far, indie band Forests and soul singer Tim De Cotta are among those who have graced the stage, with plenty more in the pipeline.

Hard Rock Cafe's newly renovated interiors on Cuscaden Road, Singapore
Hard Rock Cafe
Hard Rock Cafe's newly renovated interiors on Cuscaden Road, Singapore

"We couldn't say no to be a part of Hard Rock Cafe's new lease of life," Bandwagon said about the alliance. "We see it as another opportunity to provide a stage to some of the brightest and most exciting acts our little island has right now."

The venue isn't entirely new to other genres. In the early 2000s and up until its renovation earlier this year, Hard Rock's Orchard location frequently allowed local nightlife promoters to hold parties centered on left-field electronic music at its second floor bar.

"We celebrate music and lifestyles, and we've been tapping into each generation of youth throughout our 45 years," Yang noted.

The brand's renovation is a bold move in Singapore's cutthroat food and beverage (F&B) industry, where new food delivery apps and trendy restaurants go head-to-head for customers, but Yang wasn't worried about the competition.

"Hard Rock is a resilient brand and so far, business is going good," said Yang, adding that the venue maintained a steady stream of loyal customers.

The musical expansion is expected to take place across the Asian franchises and could soon be coming to the world's second-biggest economy, where Hard Rock is aggressively expanding.

"Everyone knows China is the big prize; we're going to open in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Shenzhen and Dalian very soon," stated Yang.

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