Tuesday, 15 January 2013

HMV - The End Of A Era?

It has been a weird day. The country appears to be covered in snow with difficult driving conditions. But I was able to travel to Ipswich, Suffolk with no problems and little sign of snow. While I was in Ipswich I went to HMV (it is the nearest store to where I live) traded in a voucher and bought some CDs and DVDs. When I got home at about 2pm two things happened at once. The first was that it began to snow - the second was the news that HMV had gone into administration. Sadly, it seems, my purchases had done nothing to save this business.

HMV has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. It was a notable record label and a big store in London's Oxford Street that I visited, often, as a child. In my teenage years and twenties it was the place to go for the simple reason that if a recording existed then it would be found in HMV.  HMV was to music what Foyles were to books in those days.

Time moved on and HMV expanded but, like any business, times change and the reason given is that HMV failed to move with the times and couldn't handle the competition from the supermarkets. Sounds good....like the pseudo-intellectual man on the street who dismissed the whole thing with the words:"No one buys CDs these days." Like the e-reader lobby who claim that nobody buys books (there are exceptions to that rule). Or those literary folk who claim that the western is dead. Problem is say it enough times and people begin to believe it.

The death of HMV is not down to people downloading music or movies; nor is it a failure to tackle the supermarkets. 'Dredd' in HMV today was cheaper than that in Morrisons and Sainsbury's but 'Lawless' was more expensive.

Then there is online purchasing - both HMV and GAME have online stores and the CDs, DVDs and Games on offer are cheaper than in-store. Game may not be out of the woods but with both these companies competing against their own high street stores - then the high streets are going to empty.

The second reason that I can see is that most of the HMV stores that I have gone to I walk into what looks like a jumble sale. This is meant to display offers etc but is far more confusing than than regulated displays.  More often than not the latest films and CDs are not available - big sellers and blockbusters yes - but where is say 'The Man Who Never Was' either the limited edition or the Blu-Ray version that was released just before Christmas.
This leads to - staff. A little basic knowledge about music and films would come in handy. Kristina Train is a female singer - not a three man group called 'Train'.

Online, HMV, is not a lot better. 'Pre-order now' seems to be handy. At least, that is a problem out of the way. Then there is an e-mail from HMV advising me that the item I had ordered is out of stock. So telephone them and say that item ordered is a pre-order. Response is that the item is out of stock. But, I point out, don't you have to be in stock before you can be out of stock? Re-instate order, then? No, sir, you will have to re-order the item.
OK, no I'll wait until it comes out or maybe go to Play.com.
Then there is a similar e-mail from HMV - I telephone and say that this has to be an error. No,sir, we are out of stock. Me: Not according to your website.

Nor am I alone there.

So, reality is that HMV have no one else to blame for going into administration.

I download music but I, also, buy CDs. I love music but I don't want to be tied to earphones all day long. And my iPod holds only a fistful of favourite tracks. Nor do I want to watch a movie on a mini-screen (on a coach or train journey it's ok) not when I have a big screen.

So, I do hope that someone does buy up HMV who can operate it as a proper business. Yeah, I can dream.

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