It was with real sadness that I read yesterday about the HMV chain falling into the hands of the administrators and, although there is a possibility that the business may be bought HMV , really was the last of the high street music stores . I have a personal interest in the HMV chain as I worked in one of their stores for a few years back in the late 1980s. It was during the CD buying boom and business at the time was brisk. During the time I worked there I made some life long friends and have a lot of great memories of the fun we had.
HMV was the last of the high street stores, the big music retailers.Our Price and Virgin Megatores, Fopp and many local chains like Bradleys have all fallen by the way side with the rise and rise of digital music buying online. The decline of the store doesn’t mean a lack of interest in purchasing new music but there are so many competitors offering more choice and better deals now that the music store business model is unsustainable.Something that HMV have been trying to address with their interest in gaming, hard ware and other media.
Interestingly the decline of the last of the high street music stores has coincided with the rise of independent record store some of which have seen an increase in business in the past few years.Much of this has come from focusing on specialist genres and insider knowledge, instore and sponsored events and offering a retailing experience which, for all the Amazon recommendations you might get, can’t be replaced online.
When I worked at HMV I am proud to say that all the staff members were drawn to working there by a love of music and we had a huge depth of knowledge between us which meant that if someone came in looking for an obscure indie record or whistling a tune that they had heard on the radio we could generaly help with them. Likewise we would often suggest to customers that they might like certain records.It is in that way that I discovered a whole bunch of artists like Mathew Sweet, Uncle Tupelo and The Jayhawks when I visited an independent store in Toronto (sadly now also closed.)
I felt compelled to write this blog for a number of reasons but primarily because I was thinking about the relation between HMV and a company like Live Music Management. The staff at Live Music Management are first and foremost music fans. We took huge pride in our knowledge of all types of music and in our party bands and party DJs . This enthusiasm for our acts and for music in general is the number one thing that we offer to our clients.It means that we trade with integrity and that we pride ourselves on creating great music based memories for people. Some independent record stores have maintained this but, sadly HMV did not.