HMV and the High Street Music Business

It’s been less than twenty-four hours since the news broke that HMV is looking to enter administration. It’s sad, but ask yourself when was the last time you bought in a music store? It’s ¬†been literally ages since I’ve bought in a bricks and mortar store. Outside of Christmas gifts, hard-to-find artists that I can’t find on Spotify are the only draw to music stores. And, as they are not the garden variety Top 40 types, they were unfindable in HMV.

And that the problem. Kids who buy dominate the single sales are downloading. Adults are buying online or paying for streams, and looking for hard-to-find artists or old vinyl can’t source these in high street retailers like HMV. I guess you could call it the snap of the long tail. Other retailers have done more to diversify. Look at Tower Records on Wicklow Street. There’s a gig space, dedicated vinyl area, a blues and jazz section, a cafe operating in the same building.

How about a more diverse selection of products that acknowledges that people are looking for more than just music? A conscience decision by the retailer to demonstrate the knowledge of its staff and builds a culture.

The same problem exists within the music labels. Music is not a product anymore, it’s a commodity. People have and will acquire it online either by downloading it illegally or as by experiencing it via a streaming service. Culture building is hard. Culture building in a recession is damned hard.

Another thought – back to HMV and closer to home. HMV was the last remaining music store in Limerick city. Yes. Seriously. Empire Music is gone. Savins has never really been a music specialist unless you’re a Susan McCann fan. Whatever floats your dingy. In this Orwellian future, Tesco in Arthur’s Quay is now the only music retailer in the city. Tesco! Every little hope?

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  1. It makes me really sad. I still buy albums in stores, more than anything because I like browsing randomly. I think I’m the only person I know who does, though.

    However most of the really great music purchases I’ve made this year (well, great in my opinion!) have been from tips on Nialler9 and other music blogs I follow, and many of them on the site of the artists themselves, like Young Wonder from Cork. More money directly supporting artists is a good thing.

    But I can’t help selfishly thinking, where will I wander around and browse for fun when all of my favourite bookstores and music shops are gone? Is there a market for something like a neighborhood coffee shop / community spot where artists and authors could sell their stuff or am I the only person who will actually miss that?

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