HMV is not a record shop, it's a supermarket.

It is time, I think, for a drastic re-clarification of my own position now the latest round of HMV cuts have been announced, many stores in North England and Scotland shockingly, and a lot of people are losing their jobs. Including every single HMV store in Edinburgh. Scotland’s capital will now have no HMV at all. Firstly in capitalistic terms, HMV was a massive employer of students, young people, and people struggling to get by on their meagre greed-head wages anyway, and this is always the way of it. As the ship sinks all the rich and the powerful will climb down into the lifeboat, give themselves a fat bonus, and shout up to us all: “everything’s going to be just fine!” This is obviously a great tragedy for all the people relying on HMV to pay their rent every month, to feed and clothe their kids, and our hopes go out to them that they can find loving friends who can support them, to stop them falling into government programmes or debt. Help out family, friends and everyone in need before they have to go to the government, that money is stolen. My thoughts and wishes go out to these people facing some very real questions about where next week’s rent is coming from. Malaho.

This is not, as many people assume, a contradiction between my position on their vicious capitalistic profits-before-people greed-head policies and my position on their business as a lover of alternative and underground music. I love people, and people work at HMV and for them it sucks that they are unemployed. But just as the abolition of all wars sucks for people who make money off death, the abolition of HMV sucks for people who make money off the homogenisation and tedium of modern mainstream music. I have railed against them many times and I restate my position. HMV you suck because you just chose profits over people. You chose to cut and run from Scotland’s capital city and many other cities the country over and there’s a lot of pissed off people. But you know who you’ve been cheating out of rent for years? Musicians, recording staff, label guys, small record shops. Your massive near-monopoly on high street music has crushed independent esoteric record shops ‘neath your mighty corporate boot, to be replaced with a store that stocks (in most cases, mail me if you have a different story) no local music, and minimal underground music. My local HMV (Edinburgh Ocean Terminal, prime real estate) had less than one quarter of the shop dedicated to music. Almost half is dedicated to electronics and One Direction calendars and cheap-looking Justin Bieber biographies. Films, television and video games got a larger slice than music, because they are more profitable.

My local, Ocean Terminal
A record shop, as I have explained before, should be a mecca for the freaks. The heads should gather on a Saturday round the deck and spin record after record and discuss and debate and make reference. One the sidelines should sit the young folks just getting into music, who hoover up this information, drink it in and become heads. Record shops should be havens for local music, local happenings and interaction between similarly obsessed music junkies looking for a fix. HMV was not this. The staff were helpful and knowledgeable but the place was a supermarket. A conveyer belt where you grab the chart release, pay and be on your way. Not exiting after an hour and a half with an armful of records you’d never heard of when you went in and a mental list of a dozen more to make a note of when you get home. A record shop should be individual. I have never gone down the street to another HMV to get something one didn’t have. But if one were to go to Edinburgh’s own Elvis Shakespeare, and not find that MC5 side cut, one could conceivably check Avalanche, Unknown Pleasures or Vinyl Villains in case it be there. These shops are not perfect, tainted with supermarketness just as HMV is, and I idealise the old ways. Most old record shops were shit, I know that, but when the decision is now between the underfunded undervisited shadow of a record shop, the corporatized behemoth, or the online soulless HAL9000 Amazon, Play and Netflix vendors, it’s not difficult to understand why nobody really gives two fucks about music anymore. It’s an industry, not an art.

To be clear. You want a record? Go by the artist or label website. If you buy from the artist, good on ya, label is second best. Give your money to the people who sweated and worked to create the music, not the gutter cunts who warehouse it. Stumble culture still exists. Go find the label of the last record you bought. Chances are you haven’t heard of every band on their roster, chances are you’ll like some of them too. Check out who your fave band is touring with, check out who's playing those venues the night before and the night after for some fine local bands. Go down the club on a Friday night and see who’s playing. Grab a magazine or surf a blog that doesn’t cater to your demographic. Find the band who made a song title of your favourite book. Surf the new release blogs and find something that dropped five minutes ago. Google the end credit song of that movie. Keep tabs on quality places like the Quietus, who really do drop interesting underground new music every day. Tell your friends, not just what you’re listening to, but why. Become a critic. There’s room in 140 characters to be eloquent, poetic, explanatory and funny. Every day people say the same thing to me, my opinion is no less valid than theirs. I explain why my opinion is valid, 1000 words once a week. How many words is your opinion worth? The loss of HMV has left a hole in the market, if they aren’t getting your money, who is? Amazon? Be aware. Business talks with money. Vote with your wallet, if you’re unhappy about tax evasion in a time of national deficit, if you’re sad about the people who work and sweat to make things you enjoy getting shafted out of money they earned, don’t go to Amazon, go to the artist direct, give ‘em your money if they deserve it, and make your friends aware of what they’re spending too.

Losing your job always sucks, losing HMV is a blessing, between this and the Gay Marriage bill, it’s becoming increasingly clear we live in the early days of a better world. Act like it.
Written under extreme duress by Steven.

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