On 15 January 2013, HMV arguably Britain's biggest music retailer announced it had officially gone into administration. Following this it was announced that 66 of the 220 chain's stores would close within weeks of the news. This included my local branch, in my hometown of Aylesbury and as a avid music fan naturally I had some thoughts I wished to voice.
I had grown up in a musically orientated household, my mother would regularly play tapes, records and CDs that would later go on to influence my own taste before meeting my stepfather around the beginning of the millenium and going on to record her own music and DJ alongside him. My stepdad (Kris Needs) has to date been my single most and biggest influence musically. He'd introduce me to the pioneers of the music I liked, reccount endless stories about the bands he'd hung out with and toured with as a DJ and taught me a large chunk of what I know about journalism. He's also my very own musical historian, filling in the gaps and always providing an insight into the bigger picture surrounding musicians, how they produce and what was going on at the time.I don't remember a time when there wasn't any sort of music playing in our household and it has definitely shaped my knowledge and what I've gone on to do today- music journalism and DJ'ing somewhat myself.
My stepdad maintained and still maintains a sizeable and varied record collection, well into the thousands which never fails to amaze me. In the era he grew up he witnessed some of the most prestigious shifts in music from peace to punk and everything inbetween. He was around to see Beatlemania, The Rolling Stones' debut and even saw Jimi Hendrix in concert. He tell tales of how he'd save up to buy records and music magazines and would go on to take me to a record shop for the first time and buy me my very first music magazine.
The first album I ever bought by myself, in my adolescence, was Green Day's 'American Idiot' in HMV. I remember sitting down and reading through the lyric booklet, what a magnificent bonus to the CD I thought as I related the angsty lyrics to aspects of my own life. I revelled at the physicality of it all, it was as if I'd brought a piece of the band I so loved.
As I've grown up HMV has shifted from closing down independent record shops to stumbling and finally succumbing to administration. When it was a factor in closing my town's only record shop I loathed it but as I soon began frequenting the town centre as a teenager it would become one of the few places I'd visit religiously browsing my favourite bands and purchasing their latest albums when I had enough pocket money to do so. And as I got further into my teenage years I experienced 'The Internet Age'. Buying music in its physical form became less and less with MP3 downloads becoming the done thing and with it came loopholes for people to access and download music for free via the net. When I began my own radio show on fnoob.com, an internet radio station, I too took to downloading my music rather than buying it in the form of CDs, it's definitely much more efficient this way but for me personally nothing will ever beat the crackle of a record or the joy of reading the sleeve notes that come with CDs.
The question on those that purchase music in it's physical form is now- where will we buy it? The answer is residing in your local supermarkets where your choice will be limited to what is in the chart, seasonal compilations and bargain bins consisting of greatest hits and bands that have long since been forgotten. Its waiting for you on various different download and streaming services or it'll be under the book section of charity shops.
Whether we like it or not everything is moving online and that has both its pros and cons. We may not for much longer be able to dip into HMV and pick up the latest album of our choosing but we can 90% of the time listen to it online before we choose to buy it. We may not have a definitive store anymore but we can still order CDs and vinyls online having it delivered to our doorstep. And you may have to (if you haven't already) ditch the CD player or the turntable but now you have the freedom and benefits of portable music.
As the technological age evolves, it'll certainly be interesting to see how our listening behaviour changes with it but one thing remains a constant and that is that there will always be its supporters whether you're a dedicated dub fanatic, a chart follower or a young woman passionate about music and the stories it tells. As I wrap this up,there's a reggae song playing in the background and it's saying 'Music is my calling, so give thanks for the blessing'' and it couldn't be more appropriate.