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Hmvdigital, the high street music shop’s new download store, has just launched and is the company’s “last chance” to retain those customers who still buy CDs, according to music analysts.
The online store, which came out of beta yesterday, and is powered by 7Digital, the download service which HMV bought a 50 per cent stake in last September, offers new registrants five free songs, is selling the Top 40 chart tracks for 40 pence each and certain albums from £4.99, in a bid to steal the march from Apple’s iTunes.
It also has powerful search capabilities and allows people to pre-order digital albums and purchase downloads as gifts for others. Hmvdigital is selling 10 million songs and people will be able to sync their purchases with iTunes and Windows Media player using the site’s download manager.
However, Mark Mulligan, vice president and research director of industry analysts Forrester Research thinks HMV has to aggressively integrate its new download store with people’s experience of the high street shop in order to keep customers.
“HMV certainly missed a large boat. It had the chance to be the UK’s leader in the digital music space. It all the right assets in place: the retailing partnerships and the relationships with the record labels.
“However it didn’t seize the moment as it was too scared to accelerate the decline of its core business which is exactly what it should have done and translated those lost customers into digital sales. HMV didn’t do that and instead, Apple did it for them.
“HMV needs to save what’s left and in order to succeed it needs to aggressively integrate hmvdigital into its high street shop experience. HMV needs to work on the assumption that everyone of their customers buying physical CDs will not be their customers in five years time – so this is the only way to keep them.
Another senior music analyst agreed that hmvdigital was the company’s last chance to “get digital right”. However, they added: “HMV still have a good chance of winning people’s custom in the download space as it is a trusted household British name and Apple have yet to move into the cloud, which would make their offering more innovative and mobile.
Melanie Armstrong, head of music at HMV, said: ''Some people still tend to think of us as a traditional retailer, but the fact is we've completely transformed our business.
''The launch of hmvdigital means we now also have a world-class music download platform that creates a really engaging consumer experience and a genuine alternative to all the other digital music services currently out there.''
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