HMV collapse 'inevitable' - but music fans will miss the magic

Few commentators surprised by HMV's plight, but death of record stores is bad news for music lovers

LAST UPDATED AT 14:27 ON Tue 15 Jan 2013

THERE was a ray of hope today that some of the 230 branches of HMV could still be rescued from oblivion following the 92-year-old high street chain's decision to call in the administrators. But most music lovers fear that music shops will now be a thing of the past.

Writing in The Independent, David Hepworth recalls his days working at HMV's Oxford Street branch in the 1980s, when a new release would trigger excitement and long queues from the tills to the back of the shop.

"A download's all very well, but it's not magic," he writes. "Record shops were magic."

Neil McCormick of the Daily Telegraph says HMV's predicament is another nail in the coffin of the record shop, a "holy" place where you can "luxuriate in longing and nostalgia, filled with the warm sense of being somewhere your musical obsession is treated as venerable and even sacred".

It's not just disappointing for music fans, says McCormick – it's also bad news for the record industry because the end result may be an overall reduction in the amount of music that is purchased.

It's possible the disappearance of HMV "may well suit" some small, independent record stores who will get some extra business, McCormick notes. But he adds that such "indie stores" are not in every high street and shopping mall, which means even more people will migrate to the web where "music is cheap or free" and can be obtained "at the click of a mouse".

The Financial Times says the failure of HMV marks a "grim start to the year" following the closure last week of the camera retailer Jessops. But the paper says there is cause for hope because Hilco, the "retail restructuring group" that already owns HMV Canada, may be interested in acquiring "some HMV stores" in the UK.

The Guardian also says analysts expect a buyer for "at least a part of the group". But Neil Saunders, managing director of research group Conlumino, spoke for many when he said HMV's plight was "inevitable". In an age when 73.4 per cent of music and film are taken directly from the internet, HMV's business model had become "increasingly irrelevant and unsustainable". · 

Disqus - noscript

Pretty sure that Independent link isn't right.

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.

Read more about