HMV, the U.K. record retail chain, has reopened its superstore in London according to the Inquirer.net. The chain was in “administration,” (a bankruptcy process that allows a firm to restructure instead of liquidating) and the new owner decided to reopen the store and move into selling MP3 downloads directly to customers. The store plans to offer all sorts of streaming previews and downloads on all sorts of devices, including iTunes, and various mobile apps. Customers can scan album art and pre-order downloads prior to the release of the recording.
Other major U.K. retailers, Virgin, Tower, and Zavvi, had closed their large London locations.
On a trip to Ireland a couple of years ago, we took students studying the Irish Music Business to a Tower store in Dublin that had been purchased by an Irish firm when the parent Tower Records went bankrupt in the U.S. The store featured all sorts of physical product, including vinyl, and had an in-store appearance and performance by a band the day of the visit. Most of the students had never seen or heard such a thing, though they were commonplace in the heyday of record store chains in the 1980s and 1990s in the U.S.