When HMV announced it was going into administration, music fans recoiled in horror. But is there a new trend that might just replace our love of CDs?
HMV’s descent into financial meltdown hints hard at the end for music in physical formats. The recent news that HMV had fallen into administration was met by fairly mixed responses, showing social opinions ran deeper than anyone may have previously realised. It sparked up new relevance in the “digital vs. manual format” debate that’s been raging within the musical sphere since the first mp3 player was developed. But more than anything it’s a worrying sign of things to come.
From a music lover’s point of view, there are two schools of thought that butted heads once again at the resurrection of this argument. There is the opinion that the decrease in HMV’s revenue is an inevitable consequence of people moving further and further away from the idea of a record as a physical package and beginning to rely more on iTunes or 7digital for their mp3s. Within that there is also, of course, the case that people do still like to own CDs or, as a recent trend has proven, Vinyl, and thus for convenience’s sake will refer to Amazon or more specialist sites like Boomkat to gain their physical copies. It’s no secret that over the course of the past 10 years, as the online market for music has grown (and more disturbingly the rate of illegal downloading taking place) the High Street retail market has failed considerably. The fairly quick demise of most of the country’s independent record stores proved that a long time ago.
Then there’s the other school of thought, to which I am most definitely a subscriber. I won’t pretend that I never buy anything on iTunes, nor will I pretend that it is not a hell of a lot easier than dragging myself to my nearest town. However, as a genuine music lover (I’d describe myself as somewhat of an addict), music as a physical thing is something that is still very appealing to me. I still get a thrill searching through the shelves in HMV and browsing for anything that I might like. I still enjoy looking through sleeve notes at lyrics and images, and still enjoy adding another CD to my ever-expanding collection. There is certainly much more sustenance than just clicking a button and downloading 11 files.
The crux of the argument here is that the decline of HMV is a further sign of the ever decreasing reliance and care for music in its most appealing and diverse fashion. Even though fairly realistic arguments like “HMV being on the expensive side” are made to seem irrelevant by the feeling of owning a CD can give a person. Up until now HMV has been the UK’s biggest CD retailer. If it goes down the drain, there will be very little opportunity for the experience I just described to occur again and that’ll be a dark day for music indeed.