Sunday, 20 January 2013

The fate of HMV

Sad news this week just passed that the record store HMV has gone into administration.

Many are quick to decry the loss of another high street chain, the latest in a growing list of former town centre staples that has gone the same way as Woolworths and the like, yet it has hardly come as any surprise, if anything, most have wondered how it has staggered on for so long.

Music fans have witnessed dramatic changes to the way that entertainment is consumed over the last fifteen years, with the rise of peer to peer networks, apple's dominance of online legal downloads, and streaming platforms such as YouTube, spotify and soundcloud, all contributing factors that have altered the musical landscape so that it is virtually unrecognisable from that of 1998.

With rental chain Blockbusters, shortly following HMV into administration, no doubt suffering against competition from Lovefilm and Netflix, it seems clear that the age of the physical format is severely in decline, and that perhaps HMV may have been better of concentrating on live music ventures rather than going up against and losing to online prices.

Since record companies, in response to dwindling sales have refocused on '360 degree' deals that incorporate tour earnings and merchandising, I was surprised when I learnt that in late 2011, HMV made a move to sell the music venues and interests that they had accumulated, seeming to miss the changes that surrounded them. More recent developments have seen HMV stores kitted out to shift the focus to technology and headphones in an attempt to keep the business afloat, but it has all been too little too late.

The future is decidedly uncertain as to if HMV will remain on our high streets, and my sympathies genuinely go out to those whose jobs are jeopardy, but the fact that they follow Our Price, Tower Records, and Virgin Megastores onto a list of extinct species is surely a sign of the times.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Frankie Machine

With over a thousand songs being carried around in your pocket, it is astonishing to think that it could still be difficult to find music to suit your mood, yet, quite simply, all this choice can be rather confounding.

And so my story begins on a rather dull January morning, leaving the house and contemplating the working day and how long it is until my next day off, I need something calming, serene, distracting, and I need it now.

I scroll past bands I love, bands I'm bored of, and artists that just don't seem right for right now, and I settle upon the name Frankie Machine.

I remember very little of why, but I remember I liked it, so I choose this, and after a brief offbeat intro, I am reminded of what held so much appeal as the sound of Nineteen Seventy Three is channeled directly into my ears.

A simple acoustic track that I have missed so much that I play it twice in a row, and as I tune into the remainder of the EP from whence it originated, I wonder how I ever came across this in the first place, what website or blog must have convinced me to right-click and save as, and a most audacious thought of all, how, in this highly informed digital age, do I still have no idea who Frankie Machine is.

I literally know nothing at all about him, other than his name, and due to a couple of skits on the EP, that he had been played on radio 1 by John Peel in the era in which emails were being used by the late fan-favourite presenter.

And you know what? I actually kind of like it that way.

it would take next to no effort to google the name, possibly finding more info than I would need to know, but I won't, cos I actually like having nothing more than my own admiration of a few pieces of music to satisfy me in this age where almost everything is shared, re-posted and ubiquitously linked to facebook.

edit:  since it has always been my intention to share music, i did precocously approach google with caution, purely with the sole intention of letting you hear what i heard

i also believe that the whole EP can also still be downloaded, although i didn't hang around to find out