However, perusing the magazines in WH Smiths I noticed that Ride were re-releasing their back catalogue, with lots of extras.
Now you know from previous entries that I rate Ride quite highly. Leave them all Behind is one of my favourite tracks from the 90's so you would have thought that I would be quite happy shelling out good money for this re-issue.
Wrong, but have another listen to what I was hoping to hear...
We knew before we got in through the front door that it was not going to be a pleasant experience for a purchaser of music. Why? There was none being promoted in the window. Crappy DVD releases and pre-order video games, but no music. We knew this - and expected it. Not a problem.
We found the CD's all the way in the back, past the numerous Dr Dre headphones and ipod speakers, just past the T-Shirts and the second hand X-Box games. His Masters Voice, my arse.
There were about 4 racks with CDs in, unloved and unpromoted. Now I know my tastes are untrendy (don't care) but you would have thought a town like Reading, with many half decent live venues would take some pride in their music, but no. I did find this rather great album for sale. Now I could have the choice of 3 different issues - the first - the old unremastered one (2 for £10), but that wasn't what I wanted, I could have spent £15 on the remastered version with a couple of B-sides tagged on the end - fair enough, but I know what I did want. The two disc version. With an extra DVD of their live Brixton show. That is what I wanted. And luckily for me, they had a copy.
For £39. That's right, just short of fourty quid. I am not going to elucidate on what £40 could buy in this world, but I know exactly what £50 can buy and it would probably last about as long as the original album. If I was tired.
Thankfully I had my smart phone on me and went to the new updated Ride website - http://ridemusic.net/
Not the clearest site on a mobile phone but usable.
They were offering the same 2 disc edition, direct, for £23. But that's not all. 500 copies would be signed by the band. All bought from the site would come with free downloads of the live show in HQ MP3 and WAV formats - all DRM free. What the fuck?
£16 cheaper direct from the band, probably signed and with a free live album? What the fuck?
Mr G proposed that I should go up to the counter and ask for them to match it. However, I do appreciate a couple of things (i) the people working in HMV have no say in the matter - it is just a job to them and (ii) a retail store needs to pay it's rent. Still, a £16 overprice is far from decent. In fact it is bloody criminal.
I love music and love shopping for it. HMV is now not a music retailer - there is no chain that offers what I as a music lover wants. Is was badly set out, badly priced and not conducive to the customer. I know that because we both walked out with nothing.
So we walked down the road to the only other shop you could buy music from in Reading - an Oxfam Music. Yes, a charity shop that sells CDs, tapes and vinyl. What we came across was a million miles away from HMV. A pleasant little shop, with music, books about music and a couple of bits of old music hardware. The set up was brilliant - Jazz and Classical sections as well as "Everything else" in alphabetical order, in stands that assisted the buyer in being able to flip through what they were selling as well as box sets and rarities higher up on show.
Obviously the prices were better (all around a fiver), but they were second hand.
Can I measure how much this setup meant? Yes. I walked out with 4 CDs and Matt with 2. Ker-ching!
Three of mine I already had (2 I gave immediately to Matt as a gift) and one rare Promo CD from Steve Mason for £1.50.
What can be concluded?
1. Buying second hand is a great way of getting music
2. The chain store approach of selling music is working against the consumer - and the artist
3. If you want a certain album, try and buy direct from the artist or label - It may be cheaper and the artist is likely to get a higher percentage of your money.
4. Shop around - Amazon, Play and Zavvi are fairly good for price on new CDs and are likely to have a bigger range.
5. Music retailing in the UK high street is dead - and isn't coming back.
With no simple all encompassing way of retailing music to consumers, the music industry is as good as dead.
Sure there is iTunes and the like - but then you get no physical ownership - at best you get a 'lease' on a digital copy.
It took me seconds on my phone using Google to find the website of an old, defunct, relatively unsuccessful band who broke up 15 years ago and order their album. Next time you want to buy some tunes, please do the same.