HMV: Forget video killing the radio star, it's record shops we should be worried about now

If like Virgin and Our Price HMV topples, we’ll lose more than just a high-street institution, says John Walsh

Call me Cassandra but there’s a retail crisis looming on the horizon. Next year may see the final demise of the high-street music shop.

It’s been in trouble since the new century dawned. Where once there were umpteen chains of record shops – Virgin, Our Price, HMV – now there’s only one. It’s HMV and it’s in trouble.

In the mid-1990s, it had 300 stores. Now, the number’s come down to 230, and the future of the chain is under threat. Trading figures in the run-up to Christmas have been worse than expected.

HMV’s share price has plummeted by 40 per cent. The new chief executive, Trevor Moore, said the company was unlikely to meet its bank loan next April. He said that closing more stores and putting the company into administration was “not part of our plan”, but business analysts say its troubles are “potentially insurmountable”.

It’ll be a sad day when the last record store closes. The shops have occupied a significant part of the cultural horizon for years, as places to drop into once a week, to browse, to listen to new records in special booths (remember them?), to meet friends and hang out.

A thesis could be written on the significance of record stores in movies involving kids, romance or both. Pretty in Pink, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and (500) Days of Summer all feature record-shop flirtations.

Judy Garland played a girl working in a Chicago music store in In the Good Old Summertime (1949), just as John Cusack played the male equivalent 50 years later in High Fidelity. In Empire Records (1995) the title New Jersey emporium was the coolest place in the mall. In A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell swaggers through a futuristic record store to pick up two young girls sucking lollies. At the end of Hannah and Her Sisters, Woody Allen and Dianne Wiest fall in love among the racks of jazz and blues.

The decline of the HMV is, of course, the fault of the download, which have seen sales of CDs and DVDs fall by chasmal percentages. Despite receiving £40m in support from its suppliers, HMV has been forced to sell its live-music division and its interest in Waterstones bookshops.

No matter how many three-DVDs-for-£20 offers it makes, the “physical-music” and “physical-visual” markets are declining, and can’t be shored up indefinitely. Soon, you’ll be going to Tesco and Asda to buy the last CDs ever to be pressed. And the shops where you used to flick dreamily through the multiplicity of music will be as dead as Stonehenge.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test