Madrid Rock, the biggest record shop in the Spanish capital, is to close within a month after 24 years' business. During its heyday, the retailer had eight stores in three cities.

Madrid Rock, the biggest record shop in the Spanish capital, is to close within a month after 24 years' business. During its heyday, the retailer had eight stores in three cities.

Madrid Rock director Miguel Angel Moreno says the 1,500 sq meter store on the main Gran Via shopping avenue in downtown Madrid is losing money. "Eight years ago when a new record was released, we'd sell 1,500 units; now we're below 300," Moreno says. "It's not profitable, we have huge losses. Physical piracy and Internet don't help us, and people don't give records as presents any more as they've lost their prestige value."

One of the 46 employees who will be let go points to a line of customers waiting at the till and says, "I don't get it, the shop's always full". Moreno does not deny reports that the store had been sold to a major Spanish fashion store with branches in several countries.

Monica Sevil, legal adviser to the Assn. of Music Store Distributors, says specialized music distribution is in danger. "Emblematic stores are disappearing in all Spanish cities," Sevil says. She blames big labels. "Specialized music stores are being badly treated in prices and conditions compared to the big commercial outlets."

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