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Welcome to HMV, Your Technology Superstore...

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It's sad: if you want your music retailer to survive, it probably helps to sell less music. This is a diversification process that started years ago, but the disastrous plunge in CDs is causing drastic product shifts at larger retailers like HMV (and even indie shops). In the latest stab at survival, HMV is nowopening 150 “Fast Forward" technology stores and supporting the effort with a massive media campaign. Stores are being rapidly retrofitted across the UK & Ireland.

This is a huge dial-away from music, specifically CDs. At Fast Forward shops, more than a quarter of available floorspace is dedicated to tech, ie, stuff that actually sells. That includes music-connected gear like headphones, mp3 players, and net-connected stereo systems, as well as laptops, netbooks, and smartphones.

An early pilot of the concept produced significant gains, even doubling sales in some situations. That was more than enough to encourage a blitz expansion ahead of Christmas. Think “Play It, Touch It, Live It," and you get the idea.

There is the nuclear option, which involves rebranding HMV into something different than music. But this sounds more like an expansion of music- and media-related products, and a way to get beyond the problematic recording. “HMV's remit has always been about giving its customers the widest possible access to music, film and games, however they want to discover and enjoy them, so expanding our range of technology products, through which so many of us increasingly consume our entertainment content these days, is actually a very natural fit for us," explained HMV head of technology Ewan Pinder.

HMV clocked losses of nearly $200 million during the recent fiscal year. That is happening alongside continued store closures, and increasingly-aggressive attempts to keep the retailer afloat.

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This story appears courtesy of Digital Music News.
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