Teh Interweb didn’t kill HMV

it killed itself.

Some are blaming downloads and teh interweb, some blaming music fans, other dolts are playing politics and blaming the current government – for not only this but horse meat being found in Tesco hamburgers.

It’s none of the above. HMV is the reason HMV is in the state it is. HMV is the reason I and probably you haven’t been in an HMV store recently buying anything.

Anecdote time – bloke said he went into an HMV store in the last week, so post Chrimbo sale time and a store in one of the main pedestrianised shopping areas of the city, and there was 3 people in the place, 3 customers that is. No one buying. He went along the road to a second hand record store, out of the way from the main shopping centres, and in it there was 23 people browsing and buying.

There’s still a market out there for “record shops”, just as there was when HMV was facing competition from Virgin and Our Price shops all in the same high street and independent shops around the corner – and lets not forget when getting all sentimental about a big chain going under what they did to those small sellers.

There’s still a place in the market for people to stand flicking through a rack of CDs or vinyl. And that’s what HMV couldn’t figure out.

You went into one of their shops and it was full of the mainstream shite that’s the stuff being downloaded heavily. They were targeting a customer base that wasn’t bothered about owning a physical product, or sound fidelity, they just wanted the crap track on their phone right now. People who are happy to stand flicking through racks of discs because they want a box, they want the artwork, they want to actually own something solid not 0s and 1s on a hard drive aren’t interested in the stuff HMV stocked piled high.

HMV rode the wave of CDs being bought to replace old records and tapes and made a pretty penny out of it. They were never exactly the cheapest and that’s another reason I hadn’t bought anything from them for years, either in store or online. When I first started buying CDs instead of tapes and records – AC/DC “Powerage” was the first – we were told the prices would come down from the £12 to £15 they were then. Well other places over the last few years sell them a lot cheaper than that, yet when I did venture into an HMV shop they still seemed ridiculously high.

I’d forgotten that HMV took over Fopp after the latter also hit the skids. It used to be a cracking shop that I frequented and bought from a lot. Because they sold discs at reasonable prices, especially as I was still to some extent buying stuff I already had on other formats. And when you’ve already paid £5 for the record you’re more likely to buy the CD at the same price rather than HMV’s £12. So that wall of old classic records at a fiver was a regular haunt.

Our local Fopp was always busy, because of price but also because of choice. Even though it was a much smaller store than the local HMV the jazz, blues, country sections were far better. Remember one day all the Calexico albums being at knock down prices – bought the lot. Go along to HMV and they wouldn’t have even the little card that separates the bands in the racks. Fopp went downhill not just because they overstretched themselves but because they cut down on so called specialist sections.

Even then their selections were far better than anything in HMV.

But it was not only in store but also online that HMV prices were non-competitive. Prime example last week I bought a 2 disc set of “Ella Fitzgerald sings Irving Berlin”. It cost me £1.99 from Play.com, where it can also be bought through their market place via other traders for between £1.99 and £3.78. Go to the HMV site, when it was up link is Google cache, and it’s £8. Now even with them having to pay VAT and maybe more tax than an offshore seller I don’t see that being £6. Another “Ella Sings With Her Friends”, less than £3 from Play, £8 at HMV.

Another was the recent reissue double disc of the Masters Of Reality self titled debut album, with “How High The Moon: Live At The Viper Room”. Bought it from Sainsbury’s online store for £10.99 at HMV it’s £18. Allman Brothers deluxe edition of “Live At Fillmore East” was £18 compared to the £8.89 I paid at Play.

So with those four purchase alone – and I had a number more – I saved £27.44.

That’s got nothing to do with a 12 year old downloading One Direction’s latest piece of crap.

Also the local HMV was opened by one Gary Glitter – he didn’t like my comments about his jacket, or indeed wig at the event – so should we cry about it if it disappears?

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