HMV: Its death could be bigger than you thought

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Alas, poor HMV. The high street retailer is in administration again, which sucks. While many high street retailers are going through a fallow period, the potential loss of it is actually something to be worried about.

So, the lowdown. On 15 January 2013, HMV Group appointed Deloitte as company administrators and suspended shares. It was not a good time for HMV, and they very nearly closed then. Fortunately, their debt was bought by Hilco, and the shops survived. Well, some closed. And the Liverpool shop moved to a smaller retail space, but it was still alive. HMV actually became the second largest entertainment store, second only to Amazon. But, here we are again. Poor Christmas sales in December have put the company back into the red. Which sucks.

I asked a few people what they thought about HMV’s administration, asking whether they think its good or bad, and how it will change their shopping habits:

Joe Gellman believes that its closure could be beneficial:

‘[It’s a] Good thing. The market adapts’

Jamie Scott states that it is ‘a shame’:

‘I’ve never really shopped at HMV so it won’t change much. I think it’s a shame though, the one in Leicester at least is a nice place and it’s one of the locations at risk.’

Matt James Titcombe added the following:

‘Bad thing. i much prefer physical media, for me, streaming devalues the experience. not criticising anyone but for me personally, it’s a bad thing.

And finally, Saul Peck shares his thoughts on if HMV will be saved:

‘Unfortunately I don’t think the company will be saved like it was before and that makes me sad as I am still an avid buyer of films on physical media, it will be such a shame losing HMV as I have always loved going there (tbh they will most likely keep the Oxford Street one)’

I love shopping at my nearest HMV; in Liverpool One. In fact, it is one of the only shops I visit every time I am in Liverpool. While I shop in Worlds Apart, Waterstones, The LEGO Store, and Forbidden Planet, I don’t go to those shops every time. There is only one store I go in every time I visit Liverpool. I’ve already lost a regular shop in Maplin when they closed last year.

Though losing a shop I visit regularly is not one of my main reasons for saying the death of HMV is bigger than you thought. It actually goes a bit deeper than that. There are three main reasons as to why I think losing this shop will be bad for you:

Firstly, It’s another nail in the coffin for physical media

Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Now TV, and all other streaming services are killing off the idea of owning your own media. Think about it, how much media do you actually own? If you have a subscription to a service, then you own a subscription. You don’t own a movie or a TV box set. Same thing with Spotify and Apple Music: you own subscriptions. I have a Spotify subscription, because I like listening to the music, and it is good value for money. But I don’t own any of that music.

The consumer should own and enjoy their media. I like having my CD’s, Vinyls, DVD’s and Blu Ray’s to play on demand at home, without worrying about poor connection. The loss of HMV will drive more people away from physical media, and towards streaming.

Secondly, the death of HMV is bad for business

The second biggest entertainment retailer in the UK going under. Think about it. I know that Amazon is the largest entertainment seller in this country, and it has thrived on competition. Monopolies don’t need to compete. They can raise prices and there will be no one to compete with them to show them how they are bad ideas. The reason that people first gravitated to the PlayStation 4 over the Xbox One was that they offered a better service, even if both consoles are the same.

Amazon is pretty much the largest online retailer now, and it is the only retailer that has a selection of products comparable to HMV. And I can’t go to an Amazon shop to pick up some Blu Rays. I like going to shops to buy a thing. It gets me out of the house. I’m not saying that the closure of HMV will stop me, or others, from leaving the house, but it is less incentive to do so.

Where’s the fun in Amazon, or any other online retailer? You click a few buttons, and our thing will be with you in 5 working days.

Thirdly, I think that the death of HMV will be bad for piracy

Well, I say it will be bad for piracy. I mean it will be good for the pirates in the short run, but bad in the long run for everyone. I admit, I have pirated things; and for a number of reasons too. Some things are hard to find, or are extraordinarily expensive, or are bootlegs. I also like having my own copies of media.

The loss of HMV will not get me to buy more subscriptions, or buy everything I want from a one-stop shop. I think it will incentivise piracy, to an extent, which links in with my first point: the loss of HMV being bad for physical media. And the law will clamp down on this, and no one will be happy or satisfied.

In conclusion, I may be wrong

Everything here is speculation, and we don’t know whether the closure of HMV is going to happen. All we know is that it entered administration. HMV is still open, you can go there and buy stuff right now. But I don’t like the idea of a world without it. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the idea of a world without Woolworths, and we know what happened there.

Sorry to end this post on a downer, but talking about the loss of jobs and high street retailers isn’t fun. For now, however, like the dog with the gramophone, listen out for His Master’s Voice.

About the author

Ben

Since 2012, Benjamin Attwood has written for the If you Ask Ben blog.

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