The Fall of HMV: U.K. Music Execs Debate What Went Wrong, What's Next

The  HMV music and video shop in Piccadilly on January 15, 2013 in London, England after management announced that administrators have been called in which may put more than 4,000 employees  at risk of losing their job.

(Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Martin Goldschmidt, founder and managing director, Cooking Vinyl  

How important for the U.K. music business is the continued survival of HMV?
The big lesson for the music business is customer engagement and customer service. They are a really important channel to the customer.

What changes must any new owners of HMV make to ensure its survival?
They need to add value to the customer experience: Let customers hear music; have great staff  that are a discovery source; do exclusive value-add versions; instant gratification [where you] buy the CD and get the digital files in your locker or phone; a disc-on-demand deep catalogue proposal.

Is there still a strong future for physical product?
Physical will always be a channel. So long as demand for it is 5-10% we must embrace it, and it will be a long time before it gets that low.


Mark Foster, managing director, Deezer U.K. 

What was your initial reaction to the news that HMV had entered administration?
Obviously, I’m very disappointed for them. Hopefully they will survive in some form or another. I’ve been a lifelong customer and fan of what they do. Clearly there is an issue in the industry whereby indie retailers have been under threat for some time and have been disappearing at quite an alarming speed. Now with HMV falling into this situation it’s a real shame. Clearly the economics are what they are and they have to cut their cloth according to their means. 

Do you view digital and physical music retailers as being mutually exclusive propositions? 
I don’t think so and I don’t think the models will cancel each other out for the foreseeable future. I think that physical in whatever form, whether its shops or mail order, will continue to co-exist with digital download and streaming services and radio for the foreseeable future. I’ve never seen it as an all or nothing situation. It gives more choice to the consumer if they all co-exist and I think there is certainly room in the market for that to be the case. Not everybody wants the same music experience. There is space for both models to co-exist and they can be complimentary. Streaming services are a great way of bring people back in. 



Geoff Taylor, chief executive, BPI 

"HMV has been an institution at the heart of retailing music for as long as the industry itself.  Consumer demand for CDs remains significant. The administrators have indicated that they intend to continue running the business, so we hope they can find a long-term solution that keeps the stores open and saves jobs."


Kim Bayley, director general, Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA)  

"HMV has been part of the fabric of the music and entertainment business for decades... It would be wrong to underestimate the affection which HMV is held by consumers and the determination of music and video companies to see HMV survive in some form. We know there is consumer demand – in a poll last year HMV was ranked in the Top 10 of the stores people most want to see on their High Street. Data suggests they generated 170 million in-store visits last year and another 40 million online. At the same time both music and video companies are painfully aware of the consequences of losing a retailer responsible for around a third of UK physical music and video sales.  We have to hope they will not stand by and watch HMV go down... HMV going from the high street is in the interests neither of consumers nor of suppliers."