Tuesday 16 January 2018

Our record shops are victims of technology

FOR music fans of a certain age, browsing around the record shops was at one time the sole reason for going into town.

On one of these trips, you might go into half a dozen shops, pick up a vinyl single in a picture sleeve by a band that you had seen on 'Top of the Pops' on the previous evening. Then you could hang around listening to music and looking at men with Mohawk hairstyles.

The news that the once mighty HMV chain is going into administration shows we are reaching the final track on a long-playing record.

Only the most foolish optimist believes that there will not be further closures among the small smattering of surviving shops.

Some of the smaller record shops were spawning grounds for Dublin's emerging pop culture in the '70s and '80s. Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats formed their band in 1975 after hanging about in Murrays Record Centre in Dun Laoghaire.

In places like Freebird on Grafton Street, we knew the staff and occasionally plucked up the courage to ask them to play a record.

While the smaller shops had a quirky charm, the arrival of British chains like HMV and the Virgin Megastore in the mid-80s brought a new excitement.

But when I visited HMV on Grafton Street before Christmas, the excitement seemed to be generated by DVD boxsets of series like 'Homeland'.

Now, even the box-set binges that have kept shops like HMV open are under threat as viewers use services such as Netflix to download TV programmes.

It was perhaps a sign of the times that rumours spread on Twitter yesterday that the HMV shop on Grafton Street will be replaced by an Apple store.

Will boxed sets of 'Breaking Bad' and discounted Coldplay CDs be replaced by iPads and the very devices that have helped to kill the record shop?

Irish Independent

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