Friday, 1 July 2011

HMV and the demise of high street music

I can't help but think that the unveiling of HMV's new 'strategy' is the final nail in the coffin for music on the highstreet. Quite how they think that selling high end headphones (a product that couldn't be better suited to online merchants) and competing with the well established live performance players will save their business is beyond me.

For me the future of such retail is in the creation of physical experiences that seamlessly and additively blend with online. For example, the use of augmented reality and near-field technology to enable consumers to sample on the highstreet (or even on the Metro) and receive digitally on any device or promptly to their home.

I've also written before about the role of HMV and equivalents in curating digital content for consumers faced with the unlimited choice of digital. Again, this is curiously missing as a positioning for HMV - imagine being able to walk into their store, sample some branded music, apps or games experiences and have them immediately loaded onto a device at high speed. Better still if I can sample the experience on a portable device, then have the full experience at home on my TV/ console.

Basically, physical media has no role for the impulse buyers who enjoy shopping on the high street, nor do tickets or high-end electronics. The new generation of consumers seems to be increasingly looking for instant gratification followed up by rich long term experiences, hence the success of services like XBox Live, FT.com and the recent announcements about the future of Harry Potter. HMV on the other hand are going back to stodgy old box shifting, a strategy I just can't see succeeding.

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