Music is an industry that cannot die for many reasons – not just the fact that I love the stuff. Music is everywhere and as well as being a form of entertainment, it is used as a commodity, a way of messaging and a way of brainwashing people. Everywhere you turn, music is following your every move. It watches you sleep and is the hand that grabs you when you’re in the shower. It is everywhere.
Actually, unlike that creepy hand in the shower; it is in shops, on the bus, on the tube and in your head. It’s on the television, radio (of course), the laundrette and probably your mums kitchen too.
As technology develops, we (everyone followed around by a creepy hand), are obliged to keep up with what ever new gadget or idea kicks off. For example the mp3 and the ‘new’ download market. What we saw in the late 90s was a massive change in the industry that not only had great opportunity to expand massively, but also to kill the industry and the growth of the internet you could argue is a cause of it.
Despite a long hauled build up, HMVs announcement that they were indeed in administration was sad as many would say that ‘HMV was a gateway drug to buying CDs and records’. While reading through the Q Magazine (March 2013), I stumbled across an article titled ‘Shopocalypse Now’ – a piece written about our brand that has certainly battled against everything to stay alive.
What stood out for me personally was a little section which said, “If Deloitte can’t save HMV, it won’t be U2 or Rhianna who suffer. They don’t need much help selling music either digitally or through supermarkets. It will be the smaller labels, whose releases the supermarkets never touch, who’ll never yet find another route to music fans bricked up. Browsing for records by hand will become the preserve of specialist outlets such as Rough Trade. HMV has been, in its own words, “a bellwether company for the whole music and entertainment sector”. If it goes down, it really could be the end of record shopping as we’ve known it.” – Eamonn Forde, music journalist, published in Q Magazine 320.
And I agree, entirely. While it must be great to download, to be able to mindlessly sign your life away in the T&Cs in order to buy a licence to listen to music is fascinating. I would actually chuckle a little if there was a clause that said ‘by agreeing you are giving your away your soul…’
Okay, dropping the sarcasm, so it is convenient to have songs on your iPod or whatever instantly, but again, you’re buying a licence. Whether its iTunes, Digital 7, Amazon or whatever – you don’t own that music even if the files are on your computer.
Downloading is great if you know what specific song or album you want, but its not the best for discovery. It may open up doors for you to download tonnes of random music to then move away from the stuff you don’t enjoy, but how often will you ‘give it a second try’?
The experience of the record store is to engage with the music and to make the initial discovery. The best kind of discovery is finding that album that stands out. Having purchased a physical product(not a bunch of 0s and 1s), you tend to listen to it again – even if you’re not exactly keen on it. The second time, you could find that actually that really rubbish album you picked up on offer for £3 is actually your new Summer anthem. You made a discovery.
You made a discovery that you take for granted at the moment as that privalidge isn’t going to last long. It’s a miracle that HMV have lasted this long, but its a slow death for what has to be the best.