Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Consumer Choice?

With the fall of both Zavvi and Woolworths over the last months the UK consumer of music suffers even more than at any time since I have been buying it.  

I have no wish to have my listening dictated by the whim of a PR agent for the record companies.  The fact that the Christmas Number 1 has become the anointment of the X-Factor winner rather than a competition is only the tip of an iceberg.  The New Comers List for 2009 whist showcasing talent does not tell the whole story it is the will of the record labels who wish to launch the next Duffy, Kylie et al whilst promoting artists like Coldplay, Lily Allen etc..

I listen to Jazz mainly the artist that are available on iTunes are limited in terms of range and quality.  My local Zavvi whilst not a large stockiest of Jazz benefited from the fact that at times you could meet Courtney Pine as it was his local music shop.  I have managed to get the last three CDs he has released signed because of that fact.

This week I wanted to get a couple of CDs that were not yet available for download.  With only HMV as a specialist I was unlucky, WHSmith have yet to grasp the opportunity presented by the fall of rivals and Tesco stock just the top 50.  One CD was available as an import from Amazon at £16 the other you buy from the Artist's Website where an EP costs £12. So much for consumer choice.

Perhaps those that set up DarkerThanBlue can find some funding and relaunch the site as a music hub? I know that the important element of Woolworths failure was the removal of Entertainment UK who undertook the distribution of Music Games and Books and it is this decline that has hit consumers most.

How are others managing to get music outside of the Cities?  I hope that as small bookshops have been able to survive after the Net Book Agreement was removed we might see new music stores open.

Since Christmas I have taken advantage of the chain of Oxfam shops close to clients to replace a number of old music that I have on Tape with cheap CDs.  However not many of those that give music to Oxfam listen to Jazz. Before the rise of eBay we had local CD Warehouse that served the needs of those looking to buy and sell second hand CDs.  The company went bust but now it could return if others see the opportunity.

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