I remember many moons ago when writing the first draft of my uni disseratation I had recommended HMV move into live music to revive its offering by utilising and extending up its strongest brand association. Back then I wimped out and played it safe and moved these more radical recommnedations to side-points in the hope of better marks.
Now seems I may have been on the right track as HMV have moves to transform their music offering somewhat by purchasing MAMA Group (giving them stamp on live), purchasing 7digital (securing their download offering) and’even their ‘loyalty’ card purehmv.
All of these things are great for a company where DVD and games outsell (what was) its core product at a phenomenal rate. As they announced they are also moving into clothing, I was thinking about what more HMV could do to refine their music offering, what they should do next…
Offer exclusive tracks and bonus CDs
Currently HMV gets exclusive artwork for albums… now seriously, who gives the f*** about that? What I want is exclusive songs. Every time I buy a CD I have to check iTunes to download the bonus tracks. Rough Trade regularly offer bonus CDs with albums… and HMV, the biggest music retailer on the high-street, cannot negotiate exclusive HMV editions of albums. If that’s the case they really need to fire some senior buyers because that’s frankly unacceptable.
Doing this (offer tracks, not firing execs) would mean every time I buy an album I would have to go to check HMV because they have the bonus disc, they have the bonus tracks. It would mean iTunes, Apple, Play.com, Amazon and whoever else are immediately cut from the shortlist because they cannot give me what HMV can. Even if there wasn’t one I would probably end up buying it there because I would be instore / on the website already
Offer Live music recordings
Record whoever plays at your venues then sell the mp3s as EPs. Quality live recordings are hard to come by, you have the power to make this simple.
Add a bit of technological swagger and there is no reason why you cannot make mp3s available (from the warm-up acts at least) for people to download to their smartphones in the venue.
iTunes does EPs from their festival, however they always seem to omit the best tracks. Offer the whole concert as an album and it opens up a whole new part of live music. Nothing will ever beat being there, however with some gigs selling out in lightning pace, giving fans the chance to hear the show they could not get into would shift some downloads and strengthen brand affinity no end.
HMV Next Big Thing Records?
Word is HMV are planning to turn their NBT festival into a monthly event, which is a good idea. To extend it further… ever thought about starting a small indie label? Distribution will be no problem; HMV has the largest music retail network in the country. This also gives them leverage when dealing with various gatekeepers/stakeholders in the music industry. It staggers me as to why they have not attempted this before.
Offer cheaper downloads
iTunes is king of downloads because of integration. Everyone has an iPod, therefore everyone uses iTunes. We like things easy so use the iTunes store to buy downloads. iTunes generally offers albums for £7.99, which is the same as I can buy on the high-street, and then I get a physical product, and pictures! Offer downloads (as Amazon are doing) for £4.99. Undercut Apple and make use of your trusted brand (leave single songs at 79p though – any cheaper feels wrong!).
The 7digital/Spotify tie up should have been branded HMV
Nine out of ten people have no idea who 7digital are, everyone knows HMV. It would have felt natural and potentially led to a – “listen on online, then buy in-store” type offer. Users clicking an album, choosing a store, then picking it up on their way home (think Argos or Comet’s call and collect).
Could have also provided the opportunity for a branded store / page in Spotify to showcase and sell music (and DVDs). Think this is a great opportunity missed.
Offer members of purehmv queue jump at all HMV venues (in the same way O2 have). That alone would make me sign-up
Make the purehmv card free!
Why am I paying £3 for a loyalty card?
The future seems bright for HMV, and now with music no longer offering its main revenue stream they have the opportunity to have some fun, take some risks and try new things because if they ideas fail, there are always DVD sales to back them up. HMV still have a lot of brand heritage to trade on… to most people HMV stills equals music (even if the sales figures don’t suggest so).