'We'd like to be part of this': HMV's Doug Putman steps up his Record Store Day campaign

'We'd like to be part of this': HMV's Doug Putman steps up his Record Store Day campaign

When Music Week revealed last month that HMV’s new owner Doug Putman wants the chain to be part of Record Store Day, it started a debate among vinyl lovers across the land.

On the one hand, Record Store Day was always designed for indies. On the other, not everyone lives near an independent record shop – but they might be able to get to an HMV. Plus, the music chain could arguably do with some support from fellow retailers, who had a glimpse of life without HMV and realised it wouldn’t be good for physical music.

In this week’s issue of Music Week, Putman expands on his hopes for being welcomed into the fold. Under the current rules, as administered by ERA, HMV does not qualify because it’s not considered an independent and has more than 20 shops.

Ahead of Record Store Day 2019 (April 13), here Putman - himself a lover of the long-player - opens further up about the vinyl celebration...

Are you still aiming to be part of Record Store Day UK at some point in the future?

“I would love it to happen, because in Canada [as Sunrise Records] we are part of it. We brought it to Canada [in 2013] and I think we add a lot to it. I know it gets a lot of passionate answers either way. Whenever something’s written in Canada about it, some people think we shouldn’t [be in Record Store Day] because we have 85 stores; other people think we should because we’re not corporate, we’re owned by one person. To each their own on that decision.

The more people you can have participating in Record Store Day, the bigger the event becomes

Doug Putman

“Me personally, I think we’re really good for the industry and we’re really good for the independent [store]. While we’re around and buying and supporting the product, there’s no fear of it going away. So we’re not out there trying to put independents out of business. In fact I don’t think you can put independents out of business. A good independent who knows their customer, they never have to worry about HMV.”

What could HMV bring to Record Store Day?

“The more people you can have participating in Record Store Day, the bigger the event becomes and that expands the customer base. When we talk about vinyl’s rate of growth slowing, that’s a great way to get more people into it by an experience with Record Store Day. To be fair, there is a large amount of the population that has never stepped foot into an independent record store, but they have come into an HMV. So think about if we can convert even 1% of the people coming into the store to become interested in [vinyl], that’s good for the whole industry. Of course, I hope we retain that customer and that they buy everything from us. But we also know that there’s a percentage who will still go into a local record store as they get more passionate about collecting and being involved in it. That’s how I see the industry growing, and why I don’t think we’re such a bad thing to be a part of Record Store Day.”

But at the moment you can’t be involved in the UK?

“Honestly I’m not sure what the rules are. I am told we are not a part of Record Store Day right now. But once we get everything set up, we’re established, and we’re doing the right thing, that’s when we start saying, ‘Hey, we’d like to be part of this, here’s what we think we can add to it.’”

Can you do anything on the weekend itself to capitalise on the nationwide vinyl celebration?

“Yeah, I think we can. There was success last year where HMV had a lot of exclusive pieces right around that same timeframe. So we can certainly do that. Just because we’re not an official partner doesn’t mean we can’t be supportive of Record Store Day as a whole. Even though we may not have the same titles to sell, there’s nothing wrong with us saying, ‘Look, this is a great day whether or not we’re a part of it or not, it’s still an amazing thing that’s happened.’ So it’s great for us to promote it regardless.”    

To read the full cover story in which Putman reveals his ambitions and vision for HMV, pick up the latest issue – or subscribers can click here.

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