Previous Joints

Friday, 22 March 2013

Agent Smith Got HMV

I grew up in a smallish town in the middle of this great country (Britain). I lived in the town from the time I got off the plane from Malawi, when I was 5 years old. I met my future fiancé/ baby mama in the town, who funnily enough hates it to pieces and would love to see it burn, despite being born and raised there. Me, I love it. I will always see it as home.


Unlike Woolworths, when it was announced that HMV was going into administration, I took notice. It wasn’t to say that I cared. I remember speaking to one of my guest bloggers on twitter, Nil, and she put it perfectly: “High-street shops need to adapt or die.”

HMV failed to adapt quickly or adequately enough. Listening to past leaders of the company before their crisis, I don’t think they understood how much this internet thing changed stuff.


I didn’t feel much sympathy for HMV because it sort of feels like Karma. I’m not saying that all of those people losing their jobs had it coming – really I’m not. What the internet, or more specifically Amazon has done to HMV, HMV did to the mythical independent CD/ video shops. I say mythical because I’ve never actually been in one.

I didn’t care until I went to the HMV in my home town. The high-street in my town was dying a slow and embarrassing death for literally years, with near identical discount shops taking over outlets like retail Agent Smiths – but HMV was that one store that always endured – until now.


I used to spend all of my allowance at my HMV, mostly to buy singles. This should tell you both how old I am and how much my allowance was.

All my wages from my paper-round and later on, as a supermarket zombie, was spent at my HMV.

I bought Illmatic at my HMV. I bought the Marshal Mathers LP at my HMV. I bought my first The Godfather boxset at HMV. These are things that I cherish above some family members.

And then I grew up, went to University and money became a little bit tight. This was about the same time I discovered Amazon and and realised HMV were burning me. Everything was substantially cheaper online and they delivered my shopping to my door --- at no extra cost.

After that discovery, I don't think I bought anything at HMV ever since, except from the occasional DVD that happened to be within a £1 margin of Amazon's price. And a PS3 (*Kanye shrug*).


I buy all my media products online. Mostly at Amazon, but a surprising amount of downloaded media (Apple have me by the bollocks I think). I didn't give my change of shopping habit any thought until I visited my now dying HMV. For 5 years, I don't go out to the town centre for much at all. And damn, if I did, what would be there (I'm talking to people that don't live in big cities)?

What was once a vibrant, busy and (I’m sorry) hip store, was just dead when I stepped foot in there today. They were having one of those “everything must go sale” which left the majority of the shop's shelves bar.

With that said, there were bargains to be had; I bought the films Shame and Brick on BLU RAY for £13. Ironically this was cheaper than what Amazon were offering for the films (ain't that a bitch?).

What got me is a couple of school kids who walked into the store, looked around and one of them said: “Come on, lets go, it’s dead in here.”


The point is, that small HMV store was a huge part of my life - I spent hours in there. It played a big role in fostering my love for music and film, and I'm not in the least bit ashamed to say that I was actually sad to see it on its death bed.

Ultimately, I believe, as a consumer, I am better off without HMV. At the end of the day, it's all about the economy and if you don't believe that is the case, then you are stupid. HMV failed to meet the challenge posed by Amazon and other online retailers. HMV prices were far to high and it paid the price in the end.