In rotation: 7/21/21

UK | HMV at 100: ‘I worry they will go bust for good. It’s not going to get easier’ In July 1921, HMV opened and brought pop culture to the high street. It has weathered the arrival of downloads and streaming – but is vinyl enough to keep it going? A once-illuminated sign featuring a Jack Russell called Nipper sits above some hoardings on Oxford Street in London. Head cocked to one side, he appears disappointed that there’s no music emerging from the gramophone he’s quizzically scrutinising. There’s still a poster claiming it’s been the “home of entertainment since 1921”, but it’s reportedly now home to squatters, including Piers Corbyn. HMV’s 363 Oxford Street branch is shuttered, the remnants of a once famous high street presence still lingering on its facade. The company celebrates its centenary this month, and after soldiering on through store closures and bankruptcy in recent years, had almost become profitable in its May 2020 financial results – despite, at that point, three months of Covid-enforced closure. Given the ride that the record industry and the high street has experienced since the beginning of the 21st century – including during the pandemic – reaching this anniversary seems miraculous.

UK | HMV to mark 100th birthday with new store openings and in-store Ed Sheeran gig: The music, film, TV, gaming and merchandise retailer shut 27 shops in 2019 after falling into administration. HMV will celebrate its 100th birthday this summer by opening a proposed 10 new stores around the UK and putting on a special in-store concert by Ed Sheeran. The music, film, TV, gaming and merchandise retailer shut 27 shops in 2019 after falling into administration. Dough Putnam, an entrepreneur and owner of Canadian chain Sunrise, secured a rescue deal for HMV at the time and has since been plotting ways to revive it. As well as opening new locations, one of which opens today (July 20) in Solihull, a return of its flagship store to Oxford Street in London is high on the priority list. Putnam told the i that he still thinks “there’s a place” for HMV on the high street. He has so far failed to strike a deal with the Oxford Street landlords to get the flagship shop back to it original home but noted that there’s currently “a bunch of vacancies” elsewhere nearby. He added that a demand for merchandise such as T-shirts and board games, as well as the resurgence in vinyl, justifies HMV’s place in the market after the ongoing slump in CD and DVD sales.

Norman, OK | The Vinyl Countdown: Record Store Day at Guestroom Records in Norman: I hate to admit it, but last month’s Record Store Day Drop was something of a bust for me. The one album that I most desperately wanted—a 12-inch reissue of the 1981 U2 single “Fire”—was nowhere to be found in Oklahoma City, apparently due to an ordering problem. Heartbroken, I still haven’t ordered it online, as the price has now nearly doubled. Regardless, I still had high hopes for last Saturday’s second and final drop of the year, my heart unequivocally set on the WAR vinyl collection. But, with Guestroom Records ordering only one copy per store, I knew that my chances weren’t that great. Not only that, but since I’m currently housesitting in Norman, I would be celebrating at a record shop that I was quite unused to, the store at 125 E. Main Street. Still, I was able to procure an appointment for 9:20 a.m., hoping that the spirits of the Latinx band would be traveling with me as I search for their long-awaited and long-wanted—by me, at least—box-set.

Manhattan, KS | Sisters of Sound owner says records provided comfort during pandemic: The annual Record Store Day on Saturday capped a year when people turned to music, and new ways of listening to it, to get through an emotional time. Sisters of Sound co-owner Sarah Cunnick said people found music a good distraction and something interesting to get into while spending more time at home. “I think it helped so much,” Cunnick said. “Music will save your soul.” Record Store Day consisted of two days of new special releases on July 12 and again on Saturday. One of the releases Saturday was a 3-inch vinyl single of “Beat on the Brat” by Weird Al Yankovic for $10. The single features album art and a poster by Garbage Pail Kids artist Neil Camera, who lives in Manhattan and signed autographs outside Sisters of Sound Saturday. Cunnick said the line typically extends around the corner of the store’s Aggieville building for Record Store Day, and while they say the line starts at 8 a.m. for the 9 a.m. store opening, some people show up early.

St. John’s, NL | Why We Should Keep the Record Culture Alive: A MUN Musician’s Perspective: July 17th marked the second “Record Store Day” of the summer, a set date to support local independent record stores with rare, limited-edition releases internationally. As such, this allows people the opportunity to both appreciate and support the culture of buying physical copies of music. As students in an age of ever-developing steaming technology, the concept of analog listening through CDs, vinyl, or cassettes may seem unnecessary or excessive without considering the repercussions on the artists who make the music we love. St. John’s holds one of the oldest independent record stores in North America and, in turn, provides an environment to share high-fidelity recordings of both mainstream and local artists. In light of the upcoming opportunity to support independent record stores, I interviewed one of MUN’s own independent artists as an opportunity to understand exactly how different forms of listening (Analog vs. Digital) impacts musicians.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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