Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Nipper is dead?

Yet another High Street institution is going to the wall...

Unlike Jessops camera stores, or JJB Sports, Comet Electrical, cheap clothes shop Peacock's and the like that have all gone recently - but more in the vein of the death of "Good Old Woolies" (Woolworths) - HMV music stores are deeply imbued with fond memories. Where else (when we had money) could we envelop ourselves in an entire concert-hall-sized room full of our kind of "easy listening" CDs, or while away several hours just browsing through the exotic and the unknown music of all the continents of the world?

Amazon and the inevitable iTunes may have displaced this sensual experience in the eyes (and ears) of a majority of music buyers, but I cannot believe that there could be a substitute for just walking past a shelf, spotting a familiar photo, and shrieking "it's on CD - at last!" when a cherished old vinyl album appears in silver plastic form for the first time!

Call me a Luddite if you like, but I like to handle my music in physical format. The loss of HMV is not just the "march of progress", it is another significant part of my life's pleasures that will be annihilated forever, and I don't like that.

HMV goes into administration

His Master's Voice (HMV) on Wikipedia


  1. I was so sad to hear the news last night! HMV has always been the most important high street store in London for me (no surprises there!) and I really hope that the chain wont close (at least, keep open the flagship store on Oxford!).

    It used to be so much fun to shop in London - HMV, Virgin, Tower and all the second hand shops in Soho seemed to be filled with treasures and it would take days to go through them all. Now, if HMV falls (and takes Fopp with it), there is nothing left for music lovers in one of the biggest cities in the world, except for a few second hand stores, unless you fancy trips to supermarkets!

    HMV currently sells 38% of the physical music sold in the UK - and the last time I checked, a big part of the population wanted albums on physical formats. Vinyl has been making a big comeback as well and I flat out refuse to believe that people will want to turn their backs completely on actually OWNING something besides a bloody computer file. The quality of an MP3 is never going to be the same, so people are buying much inferior product (instead of just buying the CD and rip it to MP3).

    I have never, and hopefully will never buy an MP3! I don't really know how much cheaper it is to buy an MP3 album vs physical and I don't care. But I do know that I would stop buying music if the physicals went out. For example, I have supported Madonna for more then 25 years, buying every release that I could get my hands on. Her latest single was not released on any physical format, and therefore I did not buy it (and neither did anyone else, apparently).

    Like you said Jon, I don't think anything can take away the feeling of browsing in a record store. The problem with HMV is that the prices were often way too high, so people would browse in the store and then go home and order the same thing on Amazon for a much lower price. I do the exact same thing over here - I never buy anything in the pathetic excuse of an overpriced record store over here, I just browse and order from Amazon. (BTW, over here well over 90% of music sales are on physical formats. Sadly it is mostly Icelandic music, since people seem to want to buy that crap and just steal everything else!).

    HMV has been standing for 90 years and I refuse to believe that this is the end. They do need to make some massive changes and probably close down a lot of stores, but if they cold offer more competitive prices I think they could continue to stay in business. At least I hope so!

    1. I agree wholeheartedly - this is too important to just let slip away... I know the predominance of HMV was a thorn in the side of the independent record stores, just as Amazon is to HMV itself, but I (and many of our gang) saw it as a glittering palace of entertainment - an experience in itself! [And the "indies" as a completely seperate kind of experience altogether; one never substituting for the other.]

      I admit I have "acquired" MP3s over the years, but I am not the sort of consumer that is in the market for them - I don't possess an iPod, and prefer to listen to music at home on solid equipment rather than randomly "on the go". Even when we do accumulate MP3s, we burn them to CD in order to store and enjoy them.

      Without a physical presence on the High Street for hard format CDs, the electronic music marketeers will no doubt be rubbing their hands together with glee, as they get their way and kill real music altogether. Amazon has already changed its website to make it doubly difficult to find CD hard copies rather than downloads (just as it is prioritising electronic books over paper copies). Apple couldn't give a shit.

      Let's hope that a "rescue package" is sorted soon. Even if it means a huge reduction in the number of stores (Oxford Street already has two, then there's the one that used to be Tower in Piccadilly nearby and there are dozens of other branches across London, let alone the number across the country) - and hopefully a new pricing structure - HMV is a treasure that should not be lost. We will regret it if if does go.

    2. The lates on the HMV story is that apparently a company called Hilco, which already owns HMV Canada, has had its offer to purchase the chain accepted - read more on the BBC. Good news for some semblance of continuity, even if it is obvious many stores will close. Jx


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