The high street music retailer HMV announces it plans to close 40 of its high street stores (that’s almost 1 in 10) due to poor sales over Christmas. The key point here is, we as music consumers are causing music stores to close through illegal downloading. The high street market quite simply can’t compete with the easily accessible free music that is available online, be it through websites like YouTube or online streaming companies like Spotify. An on-line Telegraph article (click here) quotes The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) estimating that global piracy makes up 95% of the global music download market.
On the plus side legal digital sales have risen through companies like I tunes and Spotify, whereas physical sales have dropped 30 % in the past five years digital sales have shown a 940% growth over this period (source:IFPI.) However the key issue is, why pay for music when you can get it for free with relative ease? Shops like HMV are failing as the record shop as a mass market phenomenon is a bygone age. Robert Plummer, a Business Reporter for the BBC blames it on a combination of “recession, technological change and wider social trends.”
I personally feel that we need stores like HMV to survive. Not only does MP3 lose out in sound quality but also you miss out on other important aspects of an album such as album artwork and the albums credits. Who actually wrote the album or produced it, even mastered it are important as whatever your views are on illegal downloading it still is a piece of work that took a lengthy amount of time and a lot of hard work. Furthermore Independent labels such as ‘Wichita’ rely on HMV to make up most of their sales, unlike other independent shops such as the famous ‘Rough Trade’ which can run by themselves.
Just because HMV are closing stores, doesn’t signal the death of hard copy such as CD however as physical sales continue to drop, we can only blame ourselves if the CD’s we used to once love and collect suddenly aren’t so easily available.