As many of you probably already know, retail chain HMV has entered administration for a second time and it’s not looking good.
Since opening their iconic Oxford street store in 1921 HMV became a hub for all things physical entertainment being the frontrunner of music sales for many years.
In 2012 music streaming overtook physical sales for the first time and we saw HMV file for administration in early January 2013 however they were saved by Hilco who purchased the brand resulting in a partial closing of stores up and down the country leaving 121, including thier flagship Oxford street store.
Today shows a repeat of events and one that has not left many surprised. The high street is struggling to compete with cheaper and more convenient online retailers. Making thing especially hard for a company like HMV who are selling what many would describe as ‘dying’ formats such as DVD’s and Vinyl when we have much cheaper and easily accessible platforms and services such as Netflix and Spotify.
With a business model as outdated as HMV’s many argue that their fall was inevitable. As I mentioned before people are disappointed at the prospect of losing the stores but it’s clear this second collapse isn’t a surprise.
Unquestionably physical music formats such as CD’s and vinyl aren’t as popular as they once were, they are much less of a necessity now and instead have much smaller/ niche appeal there are many people including myself out there who are more inclined to the analogue sound of vinyl and the physical feel of a CD. While much smaller there is still a market for physical media and HMV is an iconic staple, it’s that place you know you can walk into and pick up that classic Nirvana, Oasis or the Beatles record, that full boxset of your favourite show or the latest pop release for the CD player in your car.
I purchase most of my records from my local HMV I haven’t got any independent stores where I live so HMV is my go-to for new releases as well as collection staples. I’m a member of thier ‘Pure Points’ reward scheme which offers tickets to exclusive events, signed items, members-only giveaways and store vouchers. So For me personally this would be a massive loss. I do, however, shop independently whenever I can, I often go to London or Brighton to have a look around, pick up some indie exclusive pressings or releases from smaller up and coming bands. One of my immediate thoughts this morning when I heard the news was one of slight excitement for the smaller indie stores, will this allow them to lower thier prices? Will more of them open up? Will I finally get one in my town? Then I read this tweet from LP radio in Glasgow which really put into perspective the massive effect this will have on the whole vinyl industry.
The reaction from other stores also reflected the massive hole that’d be made as a result, with Banquet records in Kingston a personal favourite of mine putting emphasis on HMV as a gateway into vinyl. That’s exactly what it was for me, I was buying CD’s a lot and I just ended up getting more interested in the turntables and records when then led to me to the independent stores. The store’s accessibility really opened the door to physical music for many over the past couple of years through the vinyl resurgence. Today could shape the way the industry runs forever.
As I’m writing this at 2pm on the 28th of December it is unclear of the future of one of the high streets most treasured stores and one that I have been a supporter of for years. I hope they can pull through but for a second time it’s looking unlikely. I’ll put an update here when more comes through.