Thursday, 13 January 2011

HMV And A Dying Breed...

I'm sure that many will have seen the forecast of store closures from record retail giant HMV in the press recently. I believe the first estimate was that 60 outlets were due for closure but recent updates have put this figure nearer 40. Of course, we can see this as just another nail in the coffin for our friend the CD as downloads, legal or otherwise, begin to dominate the music consumer consciousness. But is that the whole story?

OK, stores close every day and it could be said that it's all part of a kind of natural selection out there in the retail jungle, but a casual comment made in today's press made me wonder if HMV have fallen victim to their own ambitions.

If, as I suspect, HMV's strategy was to dominate the high street by elbowing out the smaller independent record shops then they really shot themselves in the foot when they began realising it. The past 12 months or so has seen stock reduced across HMV stores to the effect that you don't have to wander too far away from the beaten track to find that the album you want on the day isn't any longer available on site but subject to a 'sorry, but we can order it for you' initiative. And if you think I'm talking about wanting an album by some obscure 1960s folk artist, I'm not; my local HMV didn't have any of the 60 plus albums by Frank Zappa in stock last time I looked!

This can't be helping, surely? Up until now, artist back catalogue was big business and there's no reason to believe that this trend has changed. Consumers with mammoth vinyl collections are probably still replacing treasured albums on CD to this day and it's quite likely that a lot of these purchases are on spec impulse buys. I've been in the situation myself when I've seen an album from my past for sale at £3 in a shop and a combination of pure nostalgia and the sense that I'm getting a good deal has witnessed me walk out with it in a bag.

I know that downloading music is probably the future, but I personally mourn the demise of the old curiosity record shops and their hoard of treasure.

No comments: