Dear HMV Administrators – An Open Letter to the Owners of HMV

What started out as a discussion in the private Facebook group “Now Spinning” I have turned into a blog. We are a group of people that still buy our music on physical media; CD, Vinyl and the odd (sic) cassette. We are not Luddites, in fact many of us also use streaming services such as Spotify.

The following is an open letter / article that we think based on our limited knowledge of running a nationwide record store. But what we lack in experience, we think we make up for in passion.

So what do we think HMV of the future should look like?

  1. Destination – The first thing that HMV should do is a deal with a coffee store. Customers both a pull to the store as well as a reason to stay longer. The Eel Pie record store In Twickenham is a good example of this. The store also has to have a pull other than physical music, we would recommend that Bands are encouraged to play to promote records, in line with record signings. Rough Trade is a good example of this.
  2. What does HMV stand for? – We would recommend that HMV works out what it stands for. Currently it sells vinyl, long tail CDs, games, DVDs, Books etc. Something for everybody. There has to be more focus. We would recommend dropping DVDs as this market has been lost to streaming. Unless there is a clear margin reason, we think that the “long tail” of CDs should be dropped. If you look at Banquet Records in Kingston, the focus only on “rare”, “special edition” and current records and CDs.
  3. Customer Experience vs Share of Wallet – The emphasis of the business should return to customer experience and not share of wallet. Employees need to be passionate about music and want to share that with their customers.
  4. Get exclusive offers, for example the offers available through “Vinyl me, Please!” as well as Barnes and Noble and Target.
  5. Create a Community – Social Media should be used, not as a corporate mouth piece but to create a customer community. Record shops (and Facebook groups) such as “Sound of the Suburbs”, “Eel Pie Records” and the Twitter account @SM_Sounds are examples of this. These record shops don’t see themselves as “just another shop” but pillars of the community. Organising quizzes, band nights, new music mights as well as bands for events. “The Rock N Roll Book Club” in Camden is also a great example of how the physical world and on-line work together.
  6. Don’t Sell – Nobody gets up in the morning and says “I need to talk to a hard hitting salesman” cut the pitch and corporate marketing. If you give people an inclusive environment where they can share their passion and they will buy.

Tim Hughes

Now Spinning

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