HMV thought online music was just a fad

You don’t have to be a genius to see what caused the downfall of HMV. And, sadly, the people who ran HMV were no geniuses. This anecdote from Philip Beeching pretty much sums up the music chain’s problems.

The day of the presentation came and we stood in the boardroom in front of the new MD, Steve Knott and his directors. For some time we had felt the tides of change coming for HMV and here was our perfect opportunity to unambiguously say what we felt.

The relevant chart went up and I said, “the three greatest threats to HMV are, online retailers, downloadable music and supermarkets discounting loss leader product”.

Suddenly, I realised the MD had stopped the meeting and was visibly angry. “I have never heard such rubbish”, he said. He accepted supermarkets were “a thorn in our side” but not for the serious music fan.

“As for the other two,” he continued, “I don’t ever see them being a real threat. Downloadable music is just a fad and people will always want the atmosphere and experience of a music store.”


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