HMV has gone into administration for the second time this week. This news saddens me greatly but what annoys me more is the way it has been portrayed in the media. Interviews have been biased to people who download and stream. Let me say this is probably true if you are under 25 years old. You may not even own a CD or a DVD. Everything has moved to downloading and streaming. Well let me tell you what is wrong with this. Firstly, with streaming you don’t own your music. It’s like radio – you can listen (without adverts for a cost) but in years to come you will forget many of the songs you have loved. I recently had a significant birthday but still went through my record collection to remind myself at what songs I wanted played at my party. Secondly most artists get next to nothing for a stream or download so you are not really helping artists to thrive; in fact, you are killing the music industry by not paying or paying almost nothing for music. Lastly, if you go and see a band and you are lucky enough to meet them afterwards, if you don’t have a CD or vinyl – what can you ask to get signed? You can’t sign a download or a stream!
I have the answer. I know how to save HMV. Come closer and I will tell you. Its an easy fix. How about a free download in each CD or vinyl bought? Amazon are already on the ball and offer their Auto-rip service but that is not offered for all music. I was extremely angry that the most recent David Bowie Box Set Loving The Alien was not offered on auto-rip (although the last three box sets had been). I cancelled my order with Amazon and bought the £220 set from HMV. If HMV could do this it would tempt those who want a download to buy a physical copy and make life easier for those who already do. Last year I bought a new car. My car no longer comes with a CD player. Instead I have the options of Bluetooth or a USB stick. I have a huge CD and vinyl collection and I am now held at ransom to have to burn my music to sticks why should I have to pay for a download when I already own the music? It just doesn’t seem fair. So, it’s not just the music industry that need to think about the future of the music industry.
Of course, HMV have already made changes from their last time in administration. The shop in Milton Keynes is now in a premises that is a quarter of the size of the one it used to live in a few years back. But perhaps they don’t have the right percentage of music to films to other items sold. How about second-hand vinyl? How about only selling music and film? Get rid of the books and speakers. I doubt they make much money for the floor space they take up. Keep band tee shirts but lose the pop heads. No real music fan wants to buy them. Most of all – give your staff the knowledge to know music. They don’t have to all know everything but perhaps have a specialist in each genre. I would spend more and be in the store more for a chat with someone with the same love of music as me. That was the joy of spending hours in an old record shop – meeting people who feel passionately about music and finding rare gems.
Finally, don’t lose those customers that are already loyal to you. I have an HMV loyalty card. It cost me £3 to have one and I was saving a lot of points which I now cannot redeem. If you don’t look after the ones who have looked after you…sadly you will be doomed. And shouldn’t loyalty cards be free if you are trying to get people to be loyal to your shop?
I truly hope that HMV can turn it around and be saved. Our high street is changing and no one is safe anymore. With massive companies such as Woolworths and BHS losing their USP, lets hope HMV remembers what its customers really want.