Streaming the End of the Music Store

Many industry changes are welcome. Some are overdue and others are the best thing to happen to an industry since forever. One unwelcome industry change is end of the music store. The closure of HMV and others like it are a symptom of changing consumer behaviour and not necessarily a welcome one.

I remember losing many Saturdays of my youth hanging out in the record store. Listening to new releases, enjoying the crackle and pop of vinyl and making new friends. Record stores are an endangered species right now and while every city has one or two, they are hanging on by a thread.

HMV had a huge presence in Canada up until 2017. Owned by the British company of the same name and then sold off to Hilco Capital, this store brought music to the masses for years until it went under. It wasn’t just music that lost out, DVDs, games and all kinds of gadgets found their way into our lives through HMV.

With streaming already having seen off the DVD, it seems the music store is next. With streaming services like Spotify and iTunes offering access to a huge library of content at cheaper prices than HMV could ever afford, it’s no wonder things went the way they did.

It’s a shame though. Those streaming services will soon have the monopoly over the industry and will have the power over the artists, labels and fans.

There is an invisible risk to streaming everything over having physical copies. When you stream, you don’t actually own anything. You rent it from the service and they retain the right to remove content at any time. Yet copyright laws prevent you from taking a copy of the very music you pay for!

Streaming has a lot of benefits but when we see stores like HMV closing down and companies like Apple and Spotify gaining more power over our lives, using these services should provide a cautionary tale not just convenience.