More blood on Apple iTunes Store’s play button: HMV is dead

“HMV will not survive in its current form,” Laura Kuenssberg reports for ITV News. “Its shares won’t trade on the stock market tomorrow morning and its administrators will start the work of trying to salvage what they can.”

“Within what was a mighty retail empire there may be pickings that appeal to some,” Kuenssberg reports, “But in this economic climate and with the music business landscape transformed by the internet, buyers for big chunks of the firm may be thin on the ground.”

Kuenssberg reports, “If all of the HMV jobs go, around 12,000 retail posts would have disappeared in only six weeks. Millions of us share some of the responsibility for the collapses by moving our custom online.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: I think death is the most wonderful invention of life. It purges the system of these old models that are obsolete. — Steve Jobs, Playboy, February 1985

Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. — Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs at the Stanford University Commencement Address, June 12, 2005

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  1. HMV squeezed out the independent record shops, putting thousands of people out of work. Now that HMV has gone bust, there will be an opportunity for ‘proper’ record shops to come back into the high street and differentiate themselves from on-line suppliers and supermarkets by offering a great customer experience.

    1. A few will flourish but without the massive impetus of this one remaining ‘giant’ costs will be all the greater with lower production levels so I doubt tree will be much of a revival and what there is will run out of steam as the overall concept of physical music declines even quicker.

      1. Why would costs change significantly? People who want to buy physical music will buy it from somewhere, thus it will be produced in roughly the same amount. It’s just the end retailer which is changing.

        You will find independent record shops here and there in trendy areas, but for the most part, the days of the record shop is over. Not due as much to massive box music stores, but due to the iPod and iTunes.

    2. Honestly, the carnage iTunes has wrought on the music mega-chains (seriously, who’s left?) is the best thing to happen to independent music stores. The only way physical music stores can survive is to offer a unique shopping and listening experience, and that’s something the independents offer in droves.


    1. His Master’s Voice, the sole surviving large British retail chain devoted to selling CDs, DVDs and games. They’ve been suffering for years, squeezed between the move to digital downloads, supermarket chains starting to stock the most popular disks and games as loss-leaders, and sales tax dodging practices from Amazon using a loophole only recently closed by HMRC (that’s our IRS). The writing has been on the wall for a long time already, so I don’t think this is a big shock to anyone over here.

    2. HMV was the biggest chain of music stores in the UK. They basically called it wrong about how to respond to on-line music and their business model failed.

      In recent years, the stores increasingly sold games and clothing, while cutting down on the amount of music in store.

      1. There was nothing HMV *could* realistically do to respond to online music and still survive.

        Apple cornered the market first and wouldn’t let any other company resell music through them. Microsoft made noise about interoperability with Plays4Sure but ultimately screwed all their partners, then failed there as well. After that, Amazon was finally allowed to sell DRM-free music because the labels didn’t want Apple to have the entire pie.

        All three are massive multinational companies that could stand toe-to-toe with the music and movie/TV studios, and they had lots of other products and services to rely on. HMV though wasn’t allowed to do digital downloads in any meaningful way, so they tried diversifying products in their physical stores (movies/books/T-shirts/etc), but most of their stores are far too small to carry big ticket items that might draw people away from Best Buy, Walmart, etc.

  2. 🙁 This makes me sad. I used to work in the Oxford Street HMV shop 1979-1980 in the Classical department. That was back in the days of vinyl and tapes.

    Classical recording quality maniacs don’t buy lossy compressed audio. These are the people (me included) who never liked the low sampling rate on CDs and would rather buy 96,000 Hz resolution recordings on DVD.

    It’s going to be interesting to see how that market adjusts to our Internet world. I’m betting on 96,000 Hz FLAC files. It’s a kewl niche a lot of people would like to see happen. (There was some new lossless format announced in 2012, but I can’t recall the name).

    1. It’s not the sampling rate that matters nearly as much as the acoustics of where you record from, the quality of the musicians and their microphones, and many other factors.

      It is very conceivable with the exact same piece a 96,000 Hz recording in any file format would be inferior to a regular uncompressed CD audio file, either by the quality of the performance, the quality of recording or mastering, or a host of other details. Then you’d need a very expensive speaker system to even notice, and a highly trained ear.

      Also the acoustics of the room where you play the music, and where you are positioned in that room also matters.

      In short, while it is possible you can tell the difference, I would say that it is unlikely that you really can. I’d bet dollars to donuts I could blindfold you and play a whole variety of file compressions and recording styles and you’d have a heck of a lot harder time discerning your 96,000 Hz than you suspect.

      1. My hearing is basically shot for listening to high quality music with a very wide range of frequencies but I know a musician who will never give up her collection of vinyl recordings. Her late husband invested in some great sound equipment (ie tubes) before he died and the sounds those recording produce are really fantastic.

        Trouble is, I’m in the minority and @DC is a minority’s minority as humanity in general will never have the money to invest in such equipment, and without initial consumer investment, costs will never come down. At least I can still enjoy the cannons in an old 1812 recording and the deep bass of the St. Saens 3rd.

      2. Speaking professionally, you are correct to some extent about the acoustics. But there is a reason that vinyl has made a comeback amongst discerning listeners. It is the superior medium. We have had to move on digitally as professionals but that doesn’t mean that we like it. It’s just the way the industry has evolved.

      3. I understand your point twimoon1. But it all goes together to create the best recording possible. We know for a fact that the high treble end of an recording is mashed by 48,000 Hz recording. Double that and the high treble end is superior. Some people would like to go even higher, but I’d be pleased with simply doubling the usual sampling rate. ANYONE with a computer can record at that rate. So let’s provide that quality of recording to everyone, yesterday! It’s the RIAA dumbasses who want to kill it. Frack them.

    2. The sample rate being great and all, and the assumption being that the recordings are made properly. The other big factor is the playback system. If you buy crappy speakers to play them back on, the recording won’t matter.
      Also, why bother with FLAC or anything else, why not just listen to the actual .wav or .aiff file at 96kHz?

      1. The only reason a lossless compression format is mentioned is to save 50% on bandwidth streaming of the data. There are also direct FLAC playing programs, which means the compression is no hinderance to playing the tunes at all. So why not?

    1. Blockbuster’s gone too. It was interesting to drive around our large metro area and see almost all Blockbuster stores (and there were many in prime retail spots) with huge yellow Liquidation banners up.

    1. re CTV news report HMV Canada is owned independently and “appeared to be adjusting to changed market conditions more rapidly than other parts of the international group”. Same article has details on the link between HMV and career launch of The Beatles 🙂

  3. Agree with MDN take. Glad Jobs is dead. We are rid of the most banal, selfish, arrogant fsck we have seen in a long time. One day they will discover his billions in a grave near his. He never gave it to those who could use it. Stingy fk.

    1. He never gave to those who could use it? How the hell do you know Mr. Anonymous “x” internet troll? You don’t even have a clue what Jobs did with his money. I bet Jobs did more to help the world when he was sitting on the toilet than you will do in your entire life.

  4. It all comes down to value for the customer. The market said that HMV was not delivering something in bricks and mortar that Apple, Amazon and others could deliver on demand.

    There is a market for physical media- especially audio – as downloaded tracks are inferior for many forms of music. Jazz, Classical and other acoustic music benefit greatly from the quality currently unavailable for download.

    What the chains that are dying apparently did not see is that they continued to market to the low end of the mass market and physical music and video stores are now more of a selective market. I doubt there is much of a market for high quality remastered copies of Snoop Dog or Dr Dre, but there is a market for remastered Miles Davis or Winton Marsalis.

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