As much as we are deeply versed in the tradition of the independent shop and lucky to be served by such great emporiums as Piccadilly in Manchester, Action in Preston and Probe in Liverpool – the teetering of HMV fills us with no joy.
Music is a broad pallet and the indie shops do a wonderful job but there are whole rafts of music they simply can’t cater for like pop or metal or hip-hop that make HMV’s role so crucial. One day you may be in love with Ulver and the next day Marilyn Manson and the next Aphex Twin and the next LIINES and the next an Abba compilation and few shops can handle that much diversity!
Only a music snob would cheer the demise of the chain. In the past few years it’s been a powerful backbone for the music scene – having that chain of shops up and down the country was a vital vessel for our culture – a magical palace of releases filling the shelves in towns where a small specialist shop could not survive and they often came armed with a great knowledgeable staff like the Blackpool HMV who have been wonderful to my band the Membranes over the years – stocking us up front in the shop, making sure the rest of the chain had our album and even promoted a great gig for us at the top of Blackpool tower with an irrespirable enthusiasm,
Walking into these shops could be a thing of the past but we will miss that mix of music culture blaring at us and the majesty of space of huge shops full of the myriad of sounds and styles that made up pop culture. Also it’s about the ecosystem, the more shops in a town then the more people learn to love and pay for music. For many people HMV shops were where generations learned their love of music before going on their own idiosyncratic journeys, these were the shops were in those aforementioned far-flung towns that were the lifeblood and the only space where you could even by this stuff and the mainstream records they stocked were as much loved as the underground as there is no snobbery involved in a true love of music.
Of course most modern music is gearing towards streaming but we hope HMV find a new model to survive – there are 2200 staff that need looking after and also a mighty goodwill from punters and musicians whose musical fix was maintained over the years by the chain.