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.