Thursday, May 27, 2010

Which? asks Where? are the indie record shops

Which? experts have counted the decline of independent record shops; their sad report isn't surprising, but that doesn't make the detail any more upsetting:

In 2000 there were 700 independent record shops across the country but by the end of 2009 the total had fallen to 296.

Only 13 per cent of people buy CDs from independent outlets, according to a survey by Which? the consumer watchdog.

This is, of course, a Bad Thing:
Music experts warned that the rejection of independent stores could mean that record labels are less likely to take risks on new artists.

An HMV spokesman said: "Record labels are not making the kind of viable return they need, taking fewer risks with their artist investments. consumer choice and product diversity could diminish."

An HMV spokesperson? Could that be Gennaro missing out on getting his name in the paper? And whoever it is, did the Telegraph tell him he was being set up as part of the problem?

The positive part of the story - that what major labels may or may not do is becoming less and less important as the music industry changes beyond recognition. It's not just the independent record shops which are trying to adapt...


electroweb said...

I normally agree with virtually everything you post on here, but this is a bit conflicted.

A vibrant indie sector selling £10 CDs on the high street cannot possibly compete with the digital utopia where the product price is virtually zero.

If online music is free or close to free, there's no possible way indie shops can stay open.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

I think you're right, sadly, that there's probably going to be more casualties amongst those 296, and the whole sector might end up going the way of independent butchers or fishmongers; places you tell your grandkids about to scare them.

What I was fumbling towards - and I don't think I quite got there - was that the survival or otherwise of indie shops isn't and cannot be tied to the investment decisions of the four major labels. There's a market for physical formats, but the old business model of cross-subsidising the sale of Bongwater albums by relying on people popping in to pick up Oasis albums in large numbers isn't going to work. The amount invested in Paloma Faith's career isn't a factor in the future for indie shops...

Unknown said...

You're right about that. The indie shop is only going to survive by doing what it does best: introducing you to new stuff and selling you stuff you missed.

My local one, Resident in Brighton, does this excellently with a weekly newsletter, regular in-stores and by making themselves the place to buy gig tickets. But whether that can pay the rent without shifting truckloads of Oasis albums too, I don't know.

I make a conscious decision to buy everything from them because I think the town is better for them existing. But then, I also use my local butcher.

I fear I'm a dying breed.

Unknown said...

Having just said that... even if someone DOES introduce you to something, how many people are gonna fork out for it in the shop rather than go home and download it?

As I say, I buy in a shop because I value it. But how many people take the weekly email but never give them a penny for the music it suggests?

Anonymous said...

Indie record stores closing is a sad sad thing. Especially if you are a music fan and grew up with such stores to show you the way with new music. Check out this music industry article on independent record stores - What you make of it?

Unknown said...

Thank you, your article is very good

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