The five reasons you don't have to be sad about HMV's closure
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
The once formidable HMV has all but ceased to exist here. It is effectively no more in Singapore and leaves behind a grand total of zero CD-chains.
(I don't count That CD Shop because its outlets are half cake shop).
HMV Singapore closed its last remaining store on Sept 30 and there is much doubt whether it will re-open again.
On its website, the music retailer said it has plans "to re-open a new store in the near future".
But staff have yet to be told any details of these plans. Indeed, one unnamed cashier told The Straits Times that last month, all staff were told that they would be laid off.
It's a sad end.
But any once loyal customers mourning the closure are probably mourning the memory of something that actually died six years ago.
That's when HMV, formerly the island's biggest music store moved out of The Heeren.
Yes, HMV was a big deal. An anchor tenant, no less.
To tell a teen today that for over a decade, a music store once occupied 25,000 sq ft over three floors of a busy Orchard Road mall sounds like crazy talk.
They may even ask you mockingly if the fourth floor was where they kept the unicorns.
Three floors of music. That stopped in 2009 when it moved to the much smaller store at 313@Somerset. With that move, the writing was on the wall.
Aside from a smattering of independent CD stores — and these will probably last for some time given that they cater to niche and audiophile tastes — there is hardly anywhere to buy CDs in Singapore now.
But while it may be expected of me, a girl who loves her music, to be sad about the loss of the music buying experience in Singapore, I'm not.
I certainly don't think the loss of CDs should cause any pangs of nostalgia.
Why hold on to an outdated form of music technology?
But if you are upset about the demise of CD shopping, here are some reasons why you shouldn't be...
Music is still streaming ahead
Whether you care to admit it or not, streaming is the future for music consumption.
Taylor Swift may have appeared anti-streaming when she took her stance against Spotify, but even she has jumped on the bandwagon with Apple Music.
CDs should have been phased out years ago. Today's technology makes CDs obsolete and I'm surprised it took so long for it to happen.
Subscribing to the many streaming services such as Spotify, Rdio or Apple Music for just $9.99 a month will give you access to almost 40 million songs — immediately and anywhere there is a 4G connection.
And unlike a CD, streaming services will recommend music to you based on your tastes. You can share what you are listening to with your friends and followers on the app.
Now compare that to the cumbersome CD - where you pay about $20 for about 12 songs.
(Full disclosure: It took a lot of head scratching and memory straining among my colleagues to recall what the average CD price was. It has been that long since we bought physical music)
More importantly, just think about the process that has to be undergone to listen to those 12 songs.
First, you have to go to a physical store. If your preferred genre is niche, even if you find the album you are looking for, you might have to pay a ridiculously high price. ("Imported, lah")
Even then, when was the last time you actually listened to a CD? As soon as you got home, it was put into the computer and the songs imported as MP3s.
Then the music was transported into your listening device while the CD became little more than a potential coaster.
Really, who has the time for all that these days?
As the music stores disappear, CD players are also going the way of the dinosaur.
Laptops are getting slimmer and lighter because they no longer support or need CDs.
Compared with sleek Bluetooth speakers (below), hi-fi systems don't scream hip and cool. Instead, they groan and wheeze and demand attention because the disc needs changing.
They are simply reminders that you are no longer of the cool generation — and do we really need further reminders of that?
Being faced with new words every day is enough of a challenge.
HMV in the last few years was no longer a music store
While HMV was known as the biggest music store, after the 2009 shrinking, it was very clear that music was not seen as the draw it once was.
In the 313 store, DVDs and headphones were put nearest the entrance. There was an increase in games and audio equipment.
To make things worse, CDs were stacked and packed sideways on shelves, making it hard to search through them.
In 2012, I even reviewed the outlet for The New Paper on Sunday. It was not a happy experience.
I wrote: "With the number of music stores in Singapore falling, one might think that HMV would put a greater effort into enhancing the music-buying experience."
Vinyl is back...
Or never really went away, depending on who you talk to.
If you want to hold on to an outdated mode of music, then just go all out and get into vinyl instead.
At least there is the experience that goes with it. The careful placing of the vinyl on the player. The positioning of the needle.
The hip quotient is a lot higher with vinyl as it is currently goes through a resurgence.
According to Forbes, compared with 2013, vinyl sales increased by 51 per cent in 2014.
Vinylheads also seem to agree that these records have a certain sentimental quality. You have to be precious with vinyl. You want it to last.
It makes you pay more attention to the record as you listen to it one side at a time.
Also, record covers make for really good room decoration.
If you know a CD lover who thinks it's the end of the world, tell them not to fret.
Plenty of online outlets will sell and ship CDs at good value. You don't even have to change out of your pyjamas to buy!
And if you want to be active and healthy, there are still several stores you can travel to.
These include That CD Shop, though it probably won't tickle your fancy unless you're into ageing performers, world music or want to buy Abba's Greatest Hits again.
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