So HMV is no more. The last well-known record store retailer on the high street has gone to the dogs and ended up in the hands of the administrators. While the powers-that-be have assured us that they are not out of business yet, let’s be honest they might as well be. Their gift cards and vouchers are now null and void so if you got one for Christmas or had one floating around in your purse/wallet for a while, you cannot go in-store and use it, which I think is a joke.
It was inevitable that HMV would end up in this situation. They failed to keep up with the rapidly changing music scene and online shopping sites such as Amazon and (now defunct) Play.com. Another factor in their downfall is their arrogance and ignorance. A couple of years ago I was in one of their flagship stores and saw a copy of ‘Frank’ by Amy Winehouse and ‘I’ve Been Expecting You’ by Robbie Williams. Both were released long ago but were selling for £21 each in HMV. Not two for £20- twenty-one pounds each. Yet I could go online and buy both CDs for a fraction of that price, including postage and packing. And they wonder why they’ve gone down the plughole.
And don’t forget, HMV used to own Waterstones- another retailer that often takes the mick. They never seem to have any good offers on and ended their 3-for-2 promotion a couple of years ago as they realised most people bought their things through other, cheaper online retailers. Customers would wander round then read the entire book they were looking for on the plush sofas, before putting it back on the shelf because they know they can get it cheaper somewhere else (and yes, I am one of those people). I feel for those working in their stores who are about to be made redundant because there are fewer more depressing things in life than being unemployed with nothing lined up.
I remember going in there many times and finding that they sold singles that couldn’t be found in any other record shop, which was great. But I always found HMV to be a bit half-arsed with their attempts to keep up with the times. They never seemed to give it their all regarding the latest technological developments; it was as if they thought that because they were the only reputable record store in the high street, they had no ‘visual’ competition. But their main competitors were hidden within the internet, laughing at them and their ignorance, offering customers the opportunity to buy CDs and records for a far better price. Thus, HMV shot themselves in the foot, leading to everyone now bemoaning their demise. So more fool them.
But it is a sad state of affairs that there are no established record stores on Britain’s high streets anymore. I remember the days when there were plenty of music shops, whether they were well-known ones such as Our Price (ah, memories) or the more local/niche types. You could even go to WHSmith and buy CD singles. Now there’s nowhere for the traditionalists like me to browse round the aisles before purchasing, apart from the supermarkets, and even then they only stock a select range of music. There are many people out there who enjoy buying a CD every now and then and don’t want to every piece of music they own to be a download. Case in point: up until a few years ago, I still used audio cassette tapes. Despite my siblings mocking me about this (usually involving them side-eyeing me and saying something along the lines of ‘You know they don’t make cassette tapes anymore, yeah?’), I feel no shame, more a sense of pride.
Ah well, goodbye HMV. You were shinier, glossier and more colourful than your predecessors but all that’s left now are memories and thoughts of what could have been if you’d upped your game a bit more.
© G. Holder 2013