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January 31, 2013 2:40 PM   Subscribe

HMVs across the world have been closing and losing their business to online retailers so they have been letting a lot of people go. Recently, they fired someone who had access to twitter. They live-tweeted the whole event.
posted by cyml (65 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was surprised HMV was still in business. The San Francisco store shut down years ago as did Toronto. Where was HMV still in business?
posted by GuyZero at 2:46 PM on January 31, 2013


Oh, back in Blighty. I see.
posted by GuyZero at 2:47 PM on January 31, 2013


If anyone is looking for info on this "HMV" thing, this page explains it. I found it by putting "HMV" (no quotes) into the main text field of Google, which is a way of searching for information about things. Hope that helps, and let me know if you have any trouble accessing the Google page.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:49 PM on January 31, 2013 [31 favorites]


[Folks, please make an effort or use the Googles.]
posted by jessamyn at 2:49 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought it was Horrible Music and Video?
posted by orme at 2:50 PM on January 31, 2013


The headline kinda misses what made this a story. It's not that the person being fired "had access to twitter" (who doesn't?)--it's that they had access to HMV's own twitter feed, so they live tweeted it on the "official" HMV twitter account.

It's still pretty tempest in a teapottish (and probably not the greatest "hire me now, some new company, I'm a really responsible employee!" move you could ever make).
posted by yoink at 2:51 PM on January 31, 2013 [9 favorites]


I thought it was Horrible Music and Video?

No, that was before it went out of business. Now it's a beloved icon whose passing marks another milestone on our descent into barbarism. You know, like Borders.
posted by yoink at 2:52 PM on January 31, 2013 [33 favorites]


The Toronto location on Yonge is still open, or at least it was a couple of days ago, but it sure ain't what it used to be.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:56 PM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or maybe just not use acronyms that'll be unfamiliar to most of the site's audience?

I would have thought the His Master's Voice logo was one of the most well known in the world. Is it really that obscure in the US?

Ah, the Googles tell me that the logo was used by "Victor" in the US and later by RCA. So I guess its only in Commonwealth countries that "His Masters Voice" is one of those 'eternal' brands.
posted by yoink at 2:57 PM on January 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


I miss physical media and record stores. There, I said it.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:02 PM on January 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


HMV still exists in Canada and, apparently, isn't doing too badly despite the fact that they seem to be less a music store and more a TV-on-DVD and books-based-on-Tumblr-websites store. I mean, they're not going great, but they're still churning along.
posted by asnider at 3:05 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


how could I have forgotten that ridiculous time Korn showed up for their in-store appearance in a tank?
posted by mannequito at 3:05 PM on January 31, 2013


Ah, the Googles tell me that the logo was used by "Victor" in the US and later by RCA.

Victor?

Oh, I don't want you to go! Oh, please don't leave me alone!
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 3:06 PM on January 31, 2013


how could I have forgotten that ridiculous time Korn showed up for their in-store appearance in a tank?

Probably because the last time HMV had much cultural relevance was at around the same time that Korn did.
posted by asnider at 3:07 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, Korn never had cultural relevance.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:09 PM on January 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


I can't wait to see if LOC will have these in their massive Twitter archive. You know, 6 months from now.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:10 PM on January 31, 2013


I would have thought the His Master's Voice logo was one of the most well known in the world. Is it really that obscure in the US?

As you've now discovered, it's more associated with RCA/Victor over here.
posted by mrbill at 3:14 PM on January 31, 2013


I'm sorry, Korn never had cultural relevance.

Look, high school sucked for a lot of us, but it still happened.
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:15 PM on January 31, 2013 [11 favorites]


> Probably because the last time HMV had much cultural relevance was at around the same time that Korn did.

Back in Korn's salad days I got my sister (who hated Korn as much as the next person) to pose in front of a MuchMusic sign promoting their upcoming appearance in the MM studio as if she were a fan freaking out in excitement. Now 15 years have passed and who's to say she *wasn't* a huge Korn fan, based on the evidence of that photo? Not me, that's who.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:18 PM on January 31, 2013 [19 favorites]


Huh... I've always known about HMV but I never really thought about what it stands for. And now I'm trying to untangle the web of relationships between the logo and RCA Victor and EMI and JVC and HMV and it's all a bit confusing.
posted by kmz at 3:20 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


The HMV store at Robson and Burrard was kind of a cool place to look for music while on lunch break, but it's gone now. The horrible HMV's at the local malls still remain, selling CD's for 20% above what you pay for them at an independent record store (only one of which still exists where I live, the fabulous Ditch Records - make sure to stop there if you're ever in Victoria).
posted by KokuRyu at 3:26 PM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


When Best Buy closed its local stores this morning it didn't even tell its (former) staff, who all showed up for work and were greeted with locked doors. It must have been a truly uplifting work environment.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:27 PM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


I used to love the HMV flagship store in Toronto. They had everything and the staff were cool and knew everything (you could tell them what you liked and what you didn't like, and they could always steer you towards something you'd never heard), and they were open really, really late on Friday and Saturday nights, so you could go to a movie and then swing by HMV to wander around and you'd always find something to go home and listen to. Such a shame.
posted by biscotti at 3:29 PM on January 31, 2013


OBLIGATORY AMERICAN-BAITING: All the people confused about what 'HMV' means now know what it's like when highly America-centric news gets posted to international sites with no context.

In a less tongue-in-cheek response, it's depressing to see that the twitter account is now being used to spew vacuous promotional material.
posted by anaximander at 3:31 PM on January 31, 2013 [11 favorites]


KokuRyu: When Best Buy closed its local stores this morning it didn't even tell its (former) staff, who all showed up for work and were greeted with locked doors. It must have been a truly uplifting work environment.

Urgh, yes :( Goldstream Gazette and The Vancouver Sun have reports on this.
posted by Wordshore at 3:33 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


The HMV on Robson and Burrard was the place to hang out late at night when waiting for the bus back to the suburbs. I spent many hours there as a teenager loitering and I bought many over priced CDs there that still live in my mothers basement.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 3:34 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


My dad worked for RCA in Camden, back before I was born. He didn't work in the actual Nipper building, but he worked nearby (and he says the Nipper stained glass was covered up with a newer logo when he was there). When my brother and I visited Philadelphia we made a short stopover in Camden to wander around the area. The Nipper stained glass had been restored, although there were panels missing on all of the sides, except the east face, which we couldn't get any good pictures of because we were too late in the afternoon. And that's my story of how I went to Camden and didn't get murdered once.

Also, we probably took one of the same commuter train cars that my dad used, since the PATCO Speedline doesn't believe in upgrading.
posted by ckape at 3:36 PM on January 31, 2013


Just went to the store list for Japan and was surprised to see that there are still six count 'em six HMV stores still operating in Tokyo.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:39 PM on January 31, 2013


HMV still going strong here in Quebec.

And yeah, the one Best Buy store here in Sherbrooke did the same thing: papered and shuttered its doors sometime last night and greeted their employees with security guards to tell them, "Surprise! You don't have a job anymore!"
posted by Kitteh at 3:41 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Spacewarp13: The HMV on Robson and Burrard was the place to hang out late at night when waiting for the bus back to the suburbs.

I was trying to remember if I ever did this as a teenager and then realized to my shock that it had been the site of the Vancouver Public Library until I finished university!

/old

KokuRyu: When Best Buy closed its local stores this morning it didn't even tell its (former) staff, who all showed up for work and were greeted with locked doors. It must have been a truly uplifting work environment.

That is just nasty. Surely that could have been done differently. Does BestBuy really feel so little respect for their employees?

I think about stuff like this whenever I read AskMe questions like, "I have been offered a new job, but they want me to start right away. I can only give two weeks' notice to my current job and I feel bad about it. What should I do??"
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:50 PM on January 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


HMV still exists in Canada and, apparently, isn't doing too badly despite the fact that they seem to be less a music store and more a TV-on-DVD and books-based-on-Tumblr-websites store.

Oh... Here in New England we pronounce that "Newbury Comics."
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:50 PM on January 31, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'd never heard of HMV but I'm surprised that there are any music chains left to close down. I can't think of any big one's left in the US, unless B&N still carries music.
posted by octothorpe at 4:15 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Buns & Noodle still carries music, but it's been a while since I've been to one.
posted by Kitteh at 4:16 PM on January 31, 2013


And yeah, the one Best Buy store here in Sherbrooke did the same thing: papered and shuttered its doors sometime last night and greeted their employees with security guards to tell them, "Surprise! You don't have a job anymore!"

I hear that's what they did at one of the Future Shops in Montreal. I am not sure how legal it is, though I believe you can give pay in lieu of notice. That said, I'm pretty sure the employees are due a half day's pay (as normal pay) for being required to come to work. It would be interesting to hear how it plays out, but I don't know anyone who works at these stores.
posted by jeather at 4:17 PM on January 31, 2013


I don't either, but there was a Montreal Future Shop employee on As It Happens this evening who dropped his kid off at school, went to work and found out there was no work anymore.
posted by Kitteh at 4:23 PM on January 31, 2013


What a dickish thing to do to your employees. Temps get better treatment.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:30 PM on January 31, 2013


I suspect the legal department mandates this sort of surprise firing so that the store doesn't get looted prior to the actual closing.
posted by GuyZero at 4:36 PM on January 31, 2013


That is just nasty. Surely that could have been done differently. Does BestBuy really feel so little respect for their employees?

On the other hand, I experienced one of the countless minor annoyances of modern living when I took my son to Best Buy to purchase, as a present for getting a good report card before summer break, one of the Zelda games for Wii. We were looking and looking and couldn't find it, and asked one of the employees, who was playing Mario Kart, for help. He just gestured in the general direction of the games rack, and kept on playing Princess Peach on a motorcycle.

We found the game, though. Tough love, I guess.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:36 PM on January 31, 2013


The HMV store at Robson and Burrard was kind of a cool place to look for music while on lunch break, but it's gone now.

It was a great landmark for the prime downtown intersection. I was sorry to see it ago. And I now live in fear of losing the Chapters on Robson. :(
posted by fatehunter at 4:39 PM on January 31, 2013


HMV still exists in Canada and, apparently, isn't doing too badly despite the fact that they seem to be less a music store and more a TV-on-DVD and books-based-on-Tumblr-websites store. I mean, they're not going great, but they're still churning along.

Oddly enough, HMV group sold their canadian branches off to Hilco in 2011 due to falling sales. Now the core UK arm has gone into administration, Hilco has bought the debt of HMV group and effectively bought out the remainder of the company.

HMV group had been struggling throughout the recession, including flogging off Waterstones (a massive book store chain that gobbled up the smaller, better book stores until it was pretty much the only one left).

Yes, they were fairly ropey for service and prices, but at least they carried more stuff than the top 20 album chart which is all you get in the supermarkets. With zavvi and virgin megastores gone HMV was pretty much the only chain music store left, and most of the small indie stores have long since given up. Which leaves itunes et al with compressed music, and amazon, complete with their sweatshop storehouse shipping operation.

HMV at least employed people on a wage that didn't entirely suck, as retail jobs go. For those people, I hope Hilco makes a better go of it than HMV group did, tho these tweets aren't particularly promising.
posted by ArkhanJG at 4:40 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd never heard of HMV but I'm surprised that there are any music chains left to close down. I can't think of any big one's left in the US, unless B&N still carries music.

Yeah. I'm a little surprised that people were so angry about being fired...I mean, they didn't know that the physical music business is going down the toilet?
posted by Melismata at 4:46 PM on January 31, 2013


This article about the staffer who did the tweeting is fascinating.
“I would apologise for the #hmvXFactorFiring tweets but I felt like someone had to speak. As someone without a family to support/no mortgage I felt that I was the safest person to do so,” she wrote...
So this will either blacklist her in the industry forever or get her a job immediately, I can't tell which. I hope the latter more than the former.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 5:02 PM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah. I'm a little surprised that people were so angry about being fired...

I have yet to meet anyone who is delighted at being fired, though I guess that rara avis may exist out there somewhere.

I, too, miss the HMV on Burrard and Robson. I purchased so many bad movies there (and even a few good ones); now it's to become a giant Victoria's Secret, but I can imagine myself browsing their knickers and bras with the same interest.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:02 PM on January 31, 2013


Other than the (handful of) record stores themselves, "His Master's Voice" was never a standalone brand in the US, just a fine-print tagline for RCA Victor, and that probably ended in the '60s. Its use to name the shops always seemed like a weird repurposing.

GuyZero, you're probably thinking of Virgin, which closed the San Francisco store a few years back. If there was ever an HMV in SF, it was gone by the late '90s.
posted by Lazlo Nibble at 5:18 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah. I'm a little surprised that people were so angry about being fired...I mean, they didn't know that the physical music business is going down the toilet?

HMV and the death of the British high street: why do we care?
posted by KokuRyu at 5:19 PM on January 31, 2013


amazon, complete with their sweatshop storehouse shipping operation.

I kind of assume that the warehouses don't get involved when I buy digital music from amazon, that seems inefficient.
posted by jacalata at 5:31 PM on January 31, 2013


....there was a Montreal Future Shop employee on As It Happens this evening who dropped his kid off at school, went to work and found out there was no work anymore.

"Future Shop: find out what the future has in store"


Also: the HMV on Spring Garden in Halifax is closing down. I picked up some Friday Night Lights DVDs and a vinyl figurine of The Dog from Game of Thrones there at bargain prices for Christmas presents.
posted by Flashman at 5:59 PM on January 31, 2013


I kind of assume that the warehouses don't get involved when I buy digital music from amazon, that seems inefficient.

Little did you suspect, it's just millions of flash drives in a warehouse that they shuttle over to a rickety old PC to send songs your way.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:01 PM on January 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


Unlike the Applebees and Canada Revenue cases, this employee didn't do anything to get herself fired until AFTER she was fired.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:55 PM on January 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is Record World at the Roosevelt Field Mall still open? I loved riding my bike there in the 70's. It is where I purchased my Terry Jacks, Seasons in the Sun 45.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:57 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, I used to hang out at the HMV on Spring Garden in Halifax, back when it seemed half the staff were CKDU people (or maybe that's always been the case, but I stopped knowing who the CKDU people were). I'd be sad about it closing down, but I honestly thought it already had.
posted by joannemerriam at 7:45 PM on January 31, 2013


Record World is gone at least 20 years, JohnnyGunn. They were a few stores down from Woolworths, correct?
posted by dr_dank at 8:01 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aw, I bought all my DVDs of The X-Files at the Spring Garden HMV. :(
posted by bewilderbeast at 8:14 PM on January 31, 2013


I "liked" CenturyLink on Facebook so I could vent my spleen, felt maybe I went too far, then realized every other post was hardcore-negative. Their social media dude/team masquerading as dude replied meekly to every post and I was hoping "Joey" or "Josh" or whoever would see the light and flame out on his employer and then figured he was probably not too sad about replying to Facebook postings for a living. But then when he gets home he probably doesn't want to use Facebook which is teh real tragedy.
posted by lordaych at 9:45 PM on January 31, 2013


The muddled tone of those tweets is so strange. The firings are bad, but only because it's people "who love the brand?" She wanted to "show them the true power and importance of social media?" Lady you are a working class person getting fucked by your employer, and you are talking about Twitter like it's Jesus. Workplace revolt used to mean squirting glue into the locks. Now it means strengthening your personal brand? I'm going back to bed for a few years.
posted by regicide is good for you at 9:49 PM on January 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


Funny to see this thread taken over by the Vancouverites. The HMV at Robson + Burrard was a pale shadow of the Virgin Megastore that previously occupied that site up until the early 2000s. That said, having grown up in London everything was a pale shadow of the Oxford Street HMV - even up until a few years ago I would always make an effort to visit when I was back in town. An amazing store, even when you had all of the independent stores in Soho a few streets away.

On the subject of Future Shop/Best Buy - it seems like their bright idea for survival is to turn themselves into catalogue shopping stores like old-school Sears or perhaps shades of Argos (UK peeps know what I mean.) One of the pilot stores for this "concept" is in here in North Van, not yet felt compelled to visit though, for some reason.
posted by pascal at 10:32 PM on January 31, 2013


Does BestBuy really feel so little respect for their employees?

I would have been surprised if they did. And that's the sad thing – large retail companies that respect their employees are rare now. CostCo is one of the good ones, and ... I don't know who else. Maybe Trader Joe's or Whole Foods?
posted by zippy at 11:44 PM on January 31, 2013


I kind of assume that the warehouses don't get involved when I buy digital music from amazon, that seems inefficient.

Flash drives and rickety PCs aside, amazon mp3s are 256kb, which is
a) lower quality than raw uncompressed CD audio
b) more prone to compression artifacts if ever converted to another format

256kb mp3 is absolutely fine for your average on-the-go music device. But they sound flat and slightly tinny on a set of reasonable hifi speakers - you don't have to be an audiophile to hear it, which I'm definitely not.

Which is why I rip my CDs to flac for home use and future proofing, and then a 2nd copy in lower quality mp3 for on the go. And why I still mostly buy CDs instead of digital.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:49 PM on January 31, 2013


Calgary still has 7 HMVs. They still sell CDs, but as asnider pointed out, much of the space is for DVDs, t-shirts, earphones, and things like mugs and bobble heads. But it seems like it works - when you enter, it doesn't feel like you're walking into a failing business.

The CD selection is limited compared to the old days, but nowhere near as bad as at Best Buy, Future Shop, Walmart, etc. And the prices are decent now. (I bought some CDs there for Christmas gifts, and again for a birthday gift this month)

The downtown mega-store I'm nostalgic about in my city is A&B sound. It was a huge space, with crazy hi-fi stuff on the top floor, and CDs on the first and second floor. The prices on CDs were great, for the time - often the same CD at HMV 2-3 blocks away would cost 50% more. As far as I know, that beautiful building (the old Bank of Montreal) has been vacant since A&B left.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:02 AM on February 1, 2013


lesbiassparrow: I have yet to meet anyone who is delighted at being fired, though I guess that rara avis may exist out there somewhere.

I got fired once from a shitty restaurant. No call/no showed when a stage ran really long.

I loved it because it meant the only time I had to talk to them after that was when I picked up my check.
posted by theichibun at 6:14 AM on February 1, 2013


Back in the mid-1990s, the Boston HMV employees would refer to it as "His Master's Vagina".
posted by pxe2000 at 6:15 AM on February 1, 2013


As you've now discovered, it's more associated with RCA/Victor over here.
Here's a building in Albany, NY
posted by MtDewd at 7:20 AM on February 1, 2013


My grandpa worked as a sales rep for RCA so I know His Master's Voice errr...Nipper and Kipper (the puppy they had) very well.
posted by stormpooper at 7:30 AM on February 1, 2013


It occurs to me: the death of HMV and other chain record stores is happening at the same time as we're seeing a bit of a resurgence in vinyl sales...to the point that London Drugs is now carrying vinyl records in their stores.

I'm not sure if their business model was flexible enough to allow for it, but a move toward vinyl might have made sense for some of the flagging music chains.

Of course, it's too late for most of them at this point. HMV was pretty much the last one left.
posted by asnider at 8:43 AM on February 1, 2013


Melismata: "I'd never heard of HMV but I'm surprised that there are any music chains left to close down. I can't think of any big one's left in the US, unless B&N still carries music.

Yeah. I'm a little surprised that people were so angry about being fired...I mean, they didn't know that the physical music business is going down the toilet?
"

I'm not sure how you took my surprise at something still existing that I thought would have shutdown a decade ago to be disdain for the workers. I just thought that we'd already grieved for the death of record stores a decade ago.
posted by octothorpe at 8:59 AM on February 1, 2013


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