After months of industry insiders predicting it, the dog is finally being put down – HMV has gone into administration. The music retailer which first opened back in 1921 was keeping schtum about its 25% pre-Christmas sale, insisting that the move was what any high street store would do in the build-up to Christmas; but people knew, and they were proved right.
There’s been a clamour on Twitter to share HMV memories, and various hands being wrung at the demise of the store. This is bad news; first and foremost, it’s horrible for the more than 4000 people who look like they’re going to lose their jobs and spend the last few weeks of it working under administrators desperate to flog every last item that they can. It’s also bad news, in the short term at least, for record labels – and independents will suffer just as badly. The 239 stores in the UK and Ireland are a huge source of distribution for the labels and if it goes there’ll be questions to be asked about the stock they had planned for HMV. What has been interesting in the last 24 hours has been the change of perception towards the retailers; it wasn’t so long ago they were being castigated for driving independent stores out of business, whereas now the news of their administration has been met with sympathy.
Ultimately though, this smacks of another example of the old model of the music and retail industries adapting too late to the change to go online. Not one single chain retailer in the music sector has managed to stay open in the digital download era and nothing appeared to have been done on HMV’s part to seriously try and change. Given that many who buy music are those into more alternative or leftfield genres, it was constantly baffling to find those more niche CDs still pricing at £15 and £16. And then you have Amazon, consistently undercutting just about every high street shop going. HMV’s demise sadly, could’ve been seen a mile off, and it’s worrying that once again there didn’t appear to be a plan b.