After a period of plummeting sales and declining popularity, the former music-retail giant HMV recently announced its closing down all Canadian stores, including 11 stores in the greater Montreal area, by the end of April 2017.
Dawson College’s young demographic is in large part HMV’s target consumers; the company focused predominantly on catering to pop-culture fans of all generations. When pedestrians were asked on St-Catherine Street about the store’s closing, people expressed mixed feelings, depending on their age and background.
The franchise reportedly owes nearly $39 million in unpaid debt, and has been losing around $100 000 a day. This devastating loss in sales is largely due to the popularity spike of the internet and online streaming services, such as Spotify, a more accessible alternative.
Sophia Ghiassi, a Health Science student, affirms that the closing down of the stores makes her feel “kind of sad” because “they won’t be around anymore.” She recalls buying gifts for her family and friends at HMV, praising their wide range of content, which, “offered great music and movies, as well as interesting collectables.”
However, she admits that she usually accesses her music through Spotify and other online mediums, as is the case for most Dawson students and staff who have repeatedly confessed to not buying the bulk of their music in physical form.
Sofia Saïm, a Commerce student who has recently begun her first semester at Dawson, also classified Spotify as her principal source of music, saying that “they offer a larger, much more accessible collection of music, and their service is virtually free if you use it on a browser.”
This reveals the primary problem HMV and other music retailers have been facing: the rise and domination of online music platforms.
Saïm adds that she likes to get her favourite albums on vinyl, but she thinks they are “too expensive at HMV,” preferring “smaller stores like 33’ tours or online where they have discounts.” HMV has been outperformed by their competition in recent years, losing out on customer fidelity.
Gordon Garmaise, Computer Science Professor, said that he used to purchase a lot of physical copies of his favorite music from music stores such as HMV, but he maintains that “nowadays you can find pretty much anything you want on the internet, and if you want to get the best quality stuff without paying a dime you can go to the BAnQ” (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec).
HMV’s bankruptcy has saddened many in the Dawson community and marks the end of an era: where the consumption of music and movies is dominated by the internet.