It is quite likely that there will be a deal done in the next few days to save at least some of the nation’s HMV stores, but even if the chain does survive, the era of record shops on every British High Street has gone forever.
And am I bothered? Well, the standard line ought probably to be – yes I am gutted. Where else am I going to go when she is looking at shoes? To be honest though, while the redundancies are very sad and yes it feels like a bit of history has gone forever, I am not that surprised or upset by the news.
Two reasons. One – people, and I include myself in this number, have consistently chosen convenience over sound quality when it comes to buying music. It was the ease of use of CDs that made it king for a decade or two and being able to buy and increasingly stream tunes has now made life very difficult for the CD. There are days when I feel that Spotify is the aural equivalent of being left after hours in the sweet shop – there’s so much choice so I don’t know when to start. But then friends recommend music to me or I hear something on the radio and instantly I can listen to more.
So I am not going to shed crocodile tears for HMV when I know that I played a role in wielding the axe that helped bring about its demise. I do however hope that record stores can live on in some guise which brings me to my second point.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, if they are going to survive I would prefer it were small indie stores that prospered. And in some way the uncertain future of HMV is quite good news for them and may even bring them new customers.
One of my friends on Facebook wrote some very wise words today.
Future of the record shop? Clearly isn’t selling chart CDs for more than online. Maybe a combined cafe/instrument/vinyl/CD shop which puts on lunch time gigs or has end of work time, early evening sessions by aspiring musicians? Somewhere where you have the equivalent of book club meetings? But themed around different types of music? Live music venues maybe opening all day as music cafes/shops. Would be such a shame for our kids to grow up only ever having music as a download button.
Well that doesn’t sound to me like a big store – that sounds like a small indie record shop.
The sad truth is that, in spite of the vinyl revival giving some a new lease of life, the number of indie record shops is constantly dwindling. It comes down to this then. If you want your kids to ever have the thrill of shopping for a physical representation of music in their hands, rather than simply a file held in The Cloud, then you need to put your money where your mouth is.
Fortunately some enterprising souls have been on the case already today. So if you think you are going to miss HMV then check out this Google Map of the UK indie record stores. If your local one is missing please add it.
View Local Record Shops in a larger map