Note – since writing this blog HMV are back up and running and have a great store in Cambridge! (HMV and Fopp!)
Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine put out a CD in the mid nineties under the name MD45 – he was on guitar only, not vocal, but more importantly a song called “Day the music died” – a chorus I had in my head when I heard of HMV’s situation. I have to say, I think it is really sad to hear that HMV has gone into administration thus reducing my need to visit the town centre. Less than 15 years ago Cambridge was a hot bed of great record stores and a Saturday morning could be enjoyed walking between them to see what great new releases were out. The greatest of the pack was Parrot, they had a great metal section and you could guarantee that when the likes of Doro put out a new album it would be there on the week of release waiting. Numerous artists I discovered purely through flicking through the vinyl at Parrot records and being amazed at their cover art.
In Cambridge you could visit Andy’s, Jays and Parrot to name but three and these were complemented by the giants like Our Price and HMV – both of which at one point had two stores each in the city, and all now gone. These were huge stores with great displays – walking out of the Cambridge Grafton centre to see a huge cardboard Iron Maiden Eddie in the windows of Andy’s records to support Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, now that was impressive. WASP once did an instore in Andy’s and I stood in line for my Crimson Idol vinyl to be signed by Blackie Lawless and Johnny Rod, how rock. HMV has only just returned recently to Cambridge and it was great to see an expansive metal section enabling me recently to pick up releases from the likes of Testament and Doro (the sign of a good store!) with friendly helpful staff.
The music industry has been a bit odd in recent years and dominated by quick and short fame artists, and I can say that I doubt I would recognise many from the top 40, if there is still a top 40 although that may be an age thing. TOTP vanished as well with no regular music show I’m aware of on mainstream TV. Marillion turned the business model on it’s head with their well documented story and we’ve seen the rise of the download which despite working in digital innovation I haven’t come round to accepting yet as owning a real copy of an album – eBooks fine as I love my Kindle but for music I like the hard copy as I see it as more than just music.
Today feels like another notch in that timeline, and a sad one, and I’ll cross my fingers that HMV or at least an alternative rises again!
I wonder if the music industry today is more like it was for hundreds of years – before say the period of the sixties to the naughties, before the days of any recording devices. The greatest bands aren’t on huge labels with mass exposure – they aren’t playing arenas but they are selling their own CDs via their websites and promoting their own gigs via social media. I have this picture-esque image in my head of (pre-electricity) bands travelling from town to town with their banjos and flutes as entertainers with no promotion, record labels etc. Just word of mouth and hard work. Who would have thought the music industry could return to a model from over a hundred years ago, just using some new technologies to accelerate the opportunity?
But you know what – with newer bands of the quality of Winter in Eden, Fen, Pythia, The Dollyrots, Orestea to name just a few coming up, releasing great tunes and playing awesome gigs, and established acts such as Whitesnake and Motorhead putting out some of the greatest music they’ve released for ages there will be no shortage of great new music in the future. So my headphones remain on, and I’m still looking forward to what’s ahead.