Let me give you a bit of a rant warning before you read this post, just so you know! It would appear that HMV are now in some significant degree of financial trouble. Whilst I have a dislike of faceless corporate record/ music stores, HMV is effectively the last national left in the UK. Even their range has fallen considerably in the last couple of years as well. So along with the ongoing and sad demise of the independent record shop and HMV’s precarious position just where the hell will future generations buy their physical music? Downloading will continue its inexorable rise, both legally and illegally, but for physical purchases what are we left with? We’re left with just a handful of small chains (Fopp etc.) and fewer and fewer independent stores. Although I do believe that Fopp were rescued by HMV who still have a stake in them. That leaves the likes of WH Smith and the Grocers (Tesco, Asda etc.) who all seem to operate an ‘if it’s in the chart we’ll stock it policy’. So that pretty much takes away all key channels apart from the internet and downloads for new bands and artists.
A couple of the major labels (Sony and Universal) are looking to spice up interest in the singles market by releasing singles on the same day that they begin airplay. Read about it by clicking here. This will certainly allow songs to rise up the charts, just like those hazy old days of my youth, rather than enter high and then crash and burn after a couple of weeks. This will clearly help downloads, but will it help sell the physical product? If the only place you can get that product is on-line (Play.com etc) then I don’t think it will.
Sadly I believe that we are truly heading for a time when digital music will outstrip every other form. Sure, vinyl is making a bit of a comeback, but it will never match the digital form with most of todays generation. OK you might think I’m a boring old fart and you are entitled to your opinion. But I am not advocating a wholesale return to vinyl, cassettes, 8-tracks and CDs. What I am concerned about is the ongoing demise of the record shop. We cannot let the grocers take a stranglehold on our music, which is just so wrong on many levels. With Woolworths and Borders now dead and HMV potentially heading the same way we must support all the remaining small chains and independent record shops. So next time you are tempted to buy a CD on impulse in the supermarket resist the urge and find your nearest proper record shop. I know that you may pay a little more, but these people offer excellent service and they are a million times more knowledgeable about their ‘product’ than pretty much anyone on the supermarket checkout. But if you are a music aficionado who works on a supermarket checkout then please accept my apologies. So you know what to do, boycott music from large grocers and get it from a proper record shop, trust me it’s a better experience all round!