Is this the end?
The end of music retail outlets that is.
According to Exclaim.ca the Globe & Mail reported this week that the company that owns HMV Canada is going to be filing for receivership and shutting down more than 100 stores in Canada.
This probably doesn’t surprise anyone. HMV has changed a lot in the past 10-15 years. When I was a label rep and used to visit the local stores on a weekly basis, they just sold CDs. Some stores still carried cassettes, but aside from that it was all music. I remember hearing once that when asked if HMV would start carrying DVDs like Music World and other music retailers, the President or CEO of HMV said, HMV would always be JUST MUSIC. 2-3 years later half the stores were DVDs.
Today, music accounts for a very small percentage of HMV’s sales and stock. In fact I think it’s safe to sale it wasn’t the decrease in music sales that lead to them closing their doors. DVD sales are also on the decline thanks to the growing popularity of streaming and I don’t think the other lines of product that HMV started carrying, from video games to books contributed much sales either. HMV wasn’t typically what came to mind when consumers thought about buying video games or a book.
I’m not sad that HMV is closing its doors. What’s upsetting me about this news is the collateral damage it will cause. What will be left for music retailers? Both Wal-Mart and Best Buy have significantly reduced their music inventory and the local indie stores, with HMV closing I think it’s just a matter of time before they’re gone too.
Some will disagree, but let me ask you this…how long did the local indie video rental places last after Blockbuster closed? You don’t see as many camera shops anymore, even less since Black’s moved online. The indie stores always saw the big chains as a villain, but in the end they were a necessary evil. Batman needs The Joker, Superman needs Lex Luther, and the local indie music store needed HMV.
As much as we’d like to think the major music retailers hurt the indie stores, they’re presence alone helped actually helped. If someone who is loyal to a local indie music store, sees an add in a local street paper for a new CD, even if its an HMV ad, the ad would still prompt the individual to go to their regular indie store and buy the CD. With HMV closing, a large amount of music marketing will disappear. This impacts not only local indie stores, but the local street papers, the labels that ran the ads and the artists themselves.
Statistics show that music consumption is more popular than ever and I can admit that I’m a fan of streaming music for a variety of reasons, but I miss shopping for music. Going into a record store and wasting a couple hours just shifting through the racks, seeing what’s new, discovering a rare-edition or finding that sought after album you’d been meaning to get for years but could never find. It makes me sad knowing that my kids may never get to experience that. I found my identity in record stores. They played a major role in shaping who I am today.
So goodbye and farewell HMV. You were a necessary evil that lasted longer than most expected and now all we can do is wonder what impact will this have and what will happen next in the ever changing music industry.