Is the High Street redundant

Is the High Street redundant

Postby PVC King » Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:56 pm

Golden Discs to focus on shopping centres

January 27, 2006 13:14
Music retailer Golden Discs said today that its turnover for the year to the end of March 2005 fell by 3% to €37.5m in what it called a difficult trading environment.

The group, which has 27 stores throughout the country, said its profits on ordinary activities came to €706,881. It said the results represent a 'satisfactory outcome'.

Golden Discs' CEO Tony Killoran said that rents continue to be a huge factor in the company's cost base. He said that rents in high street locations are becoming unsustainable and to counteract this, Golden Discs plans to relocate to shopping site centres, where practical and available.


The company recently opened a new branch in the Jetlands Centre in Limerick. It also plans to open a new branch in the Manor Mills Centre in Maynooth this spring.

'Overall, we are pleased with our performance. We continue to operate effectively in a highly competitive market. Uncertainty affects our industry and we, as a company, are not immune,' commented Tony Killoran.

'Downloading is, as yet, an unquantifiable threat to revenue in the future. As such, we need to consolidate our branch network and invest in the development of our network of existing stores', he added.


From http://www.rte.ie/business/2006/0127/goldendiscs.html

Is this a sensible strategy or the actions of a desperate company who see profits changing to losses in the near future?
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Re: Is the High Street redundant

Postby garethace » Sat Jan 28, 2006 12:22 am

Look, any of these industries that always had it easy on the highstreet, were sucessful because of 'sampling at the source'. Which basically means, you walk into a bookstore and pick up a book and thumb through it, and say, wow! I need this reference on my bookshelf. Or you walk into a clothes shop, try on something and end up buying it. The movie industry has a very 'advanced' distibution channel - you can pick up movies on supermarket shelves, in rental stores, on your TV set, in the cinema, subscription movie channels and so on. In other words, the movie industry is encouraging you to try out samples. Eventually you end up buying a DVD, because you like the movie so much, having perhaps seen it already in a cinema, on TV and on rental. Music at the moment suffers, because it doesn't have a great distribution network set up, nor does it have any effective 'sampling at the source'.

You walk into a music store, and for as long as I can recall, you might hear some great track on the speaker system in the store, but there was never any billboard, or display screen that tells the 'musically-un-sophisticated' (potential) customer,... what the heck is play'in. How hard can it be, to organise that nowadays? Yet stores have half a dozen store managers, loads of staff underlings, a premises on highstreet, and a pile spent on store fit-out and stocking the shelves, but never manage to tell you what is playing on their speaker sound system. Huh??? I often queue in a line, just to ask the sales desk at Golden Disc what the heck is that playing. Right there is an opportunity for 'sampling at the source' within the music store itself and they have squandered it. Who knows, perhaps a parent and kid are in the store together, and the kid says 'mum, I like whats playing'. If the display in the store, visibily showed a playlist, then the parent could take note of the artist and buy something like that, for their kid's birthday or xmas gift. Look at the stores that sell the XBOX and playstation - they make damb sure there are a couple of kids playing the latest and greatest release of game. The also make damb sure to advertise via cardboard cut-out or some means, what that game is - more for the parents, rather than the kids I would imagine. I mean, look at cinema - they use billboards showing you the line-up of what is on at the moment - often visible from a motorway or major road junction! The cinemas that are smart constantly show the trailers in the foyer space too.

But the music store expects you just to fork out 20.00 Euro because the CD cover looks cool. I mean, even if you take the CD cover as your major selling point, the CD boxes, should be closer to eye level, when you are looking through them - instead of buried someplace around your crotch, so that if you have repetitive strain injury or back problems - then going to HMV or Golden Discs and doing this kind strain your spine backways to try and look at the bottom row of CD boxes,... once you do that for more than 5 minutes, you have had enough. Yet every music store out there follows the exact same formula - with these almost useless display systems - from the human ergonomic point of view. The second you are down into this awkward leaning-backward with focused gaze on the row of CD covers, someone wants to 'get by' you, the customer circulation aisles being so narrow, and you have to return to upright position again. So a visit to a music store, becomes like a painful torture gym class. No fun I say, no fun whatsoever, unless you are a quite flexible teenager, in which case have no money to spend anyhow. If you are sitting at a PC, the music samples and cover design all come to you, whilst you are sitting down in one place. If a music store was a workplace - it would have serious health and safety issues for people with back problems. But this is meant to be a store, where they expect you to 'spend' instead. You would imagine stores would bend over backways to make it more comfortable for their customer. ? ? ?

Why can't people go into music store, jack in their iPod and start doing their thing? Pretty soon it will be at the stage where wireless internet connectivity will have enough bandwidth to enable decent download speeds. Then I can just sip coffee in a wifi zone, whilst my laptop batch downloads the latest album I want, and burns the CD for me there and then - no music store, no queue. Like as if computer terminals weren't cheap, and internet bandwidth wasn't available - but you never see internet terminals that you could 'jack into' at music stores - I would more than willingly bring my own set of headphones or iPod set and jack right into some good fast bandwidth, and begin to buy music. Alternatively, if you wish to sell CDROMs, have it like an Argos routine, where you pressed a button and went to the check-out in your turn to get the CDROM itself. Cut down on all this needless floor staff, walking around arranging CD covers all day long. At xmas time, this was most apparent, with queues of shoppers out the doors in all music stores on the highstreets in Dublin - but at the top of the queue, you might have two people serving who cannot even work the till properly - or else, the till itself doesn't work properly. Another way to look at music retail on highstreet, would be to do the suse bar idea of a conveyor belt - allow people to sit down together and get relaxed and choose music as it went around a conveyor belt or something.

So which ever way you try and slice or dice it, the music stores deserve everything they get - because frankly, they think like they are back in the dark ages. I have scant sympathy for music stores, they knew as well as anyone else how cheap digital storage was becoming, and how accessible bandwidth was to the market. You only have to put two and two together. But even with that, downloading can only take a very small slice of the market anyway. Anyone who has gone through the hassle of downloading will know, that it can be grief - it can be time consuming, and for anyone except the thorough music lover - downloading is not the answer. You need to set up a whole lot of things, and get them working together for the process of downloading music to work - and even then, the process is far from flawless. So downloading per se, is not stealing any great customer base - that's bullshit. All downloading is doing, is providing certain customers who need something more than the stores could offer. And if the stores got their shit together, they might even win back some of those downloaders too. Because after you have downloaded your 1000th song, the appeal has kinda worn off, and you would like to be able to just walk into a store and buy the CD for a change. With the rise in popularity of the service industry, with coffee shops etc, etc, and given their city centre locations - I often wonder, if an opportunity exists to do a hybrid of service industry and music industry. Dunno. In the same way, that Cinemas offer you the movie cheaply and then make up most of their profit from selling the higher margin drinks and popcorn.

Steve Jobs kinda ties down a lot of issues here I feel:

http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5939600/steve_jobs_the_rolling_stone_interview/?rnd=1138395321640&has-player=true&version=6.0.12.1069

Brian O' Hanlon.
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Re: Is the High Street redundant

Postby garethace » Sat Jan 28, 2006 10:29 pm

Guess I may as well tie on the essential Archiseek shopping centre thread here:

http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=3703&

Anyhow, every stage of the process of buying music in a music store is all wrong. Take the beer industry as a comparison. The classic example of all, of 'sampling at the sourse', has to be that irish expression: 'Ah, sure I'll go for one'. Which is usually followed by 'Ah have another one', and eventually ends up with 'Sure have one for the road'. Imagine how sucessful the beer industry would be, if it tried to sell you something wrapped in shrink-wrap plastic, which you had to 'take away' from the store premises in order to consume. Instead of selling you 'shrink-wrapped' cans of beer though, the beer industry provides the customer with a reptacle from which to 'sample' the product - namely, a pint glass.

The distribution channels for the selling of beer are also well developed. The beer product has found its way into every village and hamlet in Ireland. The 'last mile' of delivery of the beer product, to the lips of consumer being carefully taken care of by a dedicated bar keeper. The coffee industry in Ireland has also learned the value of distribution channels recently too. Before, you just bought coffee in a jar, on special offer at the supermarket - but nowadays you can 'get' your coffee in many more ways than before. Basically, other industries have shown intelligence and business acumen, whereas the music industry has shown itself to be dumb and primitive by comparison.

Brian O' Hanlon.
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Re: Is the High Street redundant

Postby Spanky » Sun Jan 29, 2006 12:30 am

Well, the oppurtunity for sampling music used to be the radio, but the airwaves are now dominated with mass-marketed low quality pap, and only represent a tiny segment of what's available out there. MTV for a while also performed that function, but not any more.
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Re: Is the High Street redundant

Postby garethace » Sun Jan 29, 2006 3:32 pm

Yeah, imagine if pubs in Ireland were only allowed to sell Bud in a can or something equivalent, to the excuse for music on radios. Because that is basically all that local and often nationwide broadcasting companies are trying to do - sell everyone Bud in a can, and make you like it. Burp! Broadcasting centres display an even greater lack of creativity than the music stores do. The government issued broadcasting rights to the stations - and how the stations make things solvent, is really, just a matter of find the cheapest and most cynical way to exploit the mass audience. I am afraid, in the broadcasting industry it is all about cynical marketing decisions - and whatever music earns the most - that is what will be played. It has nothing to do with the quality of the music, it is just some 'business person' in an office, who probably doesn't enjoy music at all - or has terrible tastes, dictating what 'is best' for the radio station in terms of pounds, shillings and pence. If you have Real Player, you should be able to stream this lecture given by Yochai Benkler at the Duke School of Law in North Carolina. Freedom in the Commons, or a Political Economy of Information.

http://realmedia.oit.duke.edu/ramgen/law/frey/benkler.rm

Couple of more links:

http://www.law.duke.edu/webcast/
http://www.law.duke.edu/pd/realcast.htm
http://www.law.duke.edu/pd/mpegcast.html

Here is Benkler's key paper: Coase's Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm.

http://www.yale.edu/yalelj/112/BenklerWEB.pdf

Non-market production of information, and radically decentralised production of information. Basically, because bandwidth is now available to individuals - and the individuals themselves own a substantial part of the network infrastructure - namely your means of capturing the information in digital format and putting on the network via you mobile or PC - people themselves are now starting to behave in 'Smart Mob' fashion as Howard Rheingold described it - people themselves are starting to become broadcasting facilties. Rather than all the 'capital' being concentrated in one single massive block called the Radio or TV station, owned/controlled by investors and vested interested - the network and capital associated with the infrastructure of the network, is widely dispersed amongst individuals. Even something like a university owns a large part of its network, in terms of the critical hubs, switches, bandwidth and responsibility for its content. Heck, even something like Google and Yahoo, started off on a university campus network. Google consumed half of the total bandwidth available at Berkeley University campus in California, before becoming an actual company it was owned and run by students, who managed to beg, borrow and steal the hardware required to get it running. That is a U-Turn from the twentieth century notion of the high cost of being a public speaker - you had to be a capitalist and own a broadcasting facility or newspaper. Like our own De Valera, who sold bogus shares in the United States to try and set up his own newspaper here in Ireland - it worked for him too, in typical 20th century fashion. Namely, the Fordism model applied to the production of units of cultural exchange.

Brian O' Hanlon.
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Re: Is the High Street redundant

Postby garethace » Sun Feb 05, 2006 12:18 am

David Isenberg on music,
May 6, 2003.

http://www.isen.com/archives/030506.html

Brian O' Hanlon.
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Re: Is the High Street redundant

Postby garethace » Mon Jun 05, 2006 10:13 pm

Good New York Times piece about the book industry going digital here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/05/books/05digi.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2&oref=slogin
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Re: Is the High Street redundant

Postby publicrealm » Sat Jun 10, 2006 1:32 am

A slightly on topic question - has anyone ever encountered a Retail Impact Statement that found the proposed development would have an adverse impact on the vitality/viability of the adjacent retail centre?

Just wondering..
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Re: Is the High Street redundant

Postby PVC King » Sat Jun 10, 2006 7:21 pm

Yes but it is the scale of the impact and not the fact that there is one that is at issue; to state that any development will not draw at least some trade away from neighbouring locations would rarely be true unless it is a very specialised type of retail development which probably wouldn't attract a request for a study in the first instance.
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Re: Is the High Street redundant

Postby garethace » Sat Jun 10, 2006 11:29 pm

Tim O'Reilly scared by possibilities of new Google Technology

I guess, that online shopping for music is going to get more powerful if this new Google technology takes off. It will allow the PC to listen to your background music as you browse the internet using google search, to find out what music you like - altering the 'search results' to find music, that google feels you will appreciate. Scary, scary, weird kind of Men in Black areas we are getting into here folks.

I was watching a documentary this morning on sky television, about a british equivalent to roswell. At the end of the documentary, a few serious british military people stated their concerns about America, having got most of its technology by talking with aliens. That America's advancement in technology has been arranged by Men in Black. I supposed, in the 'open society' of the philosopher Karl Popper, each theory is possible until it is proven flawed. Therefore, even wild theories could be true until proven otherwise. It is still -not- possible to prove, that America didn't learn it's technology from an alien, or aliens. Who know?

I really do wonder about this new technology from google, where the pc is able to enter into your home and request all kinds of weird information about you.

http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2006/06/big_brother_is_listening.html

Tim O'Reilly, the well known promoter of web technology is really shaken by this, it appears.

Brian O' Hanlon
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