Archive for April 2014
As the company struggles to remain relevant in the post-CD age, the move makes a whole lot of sense. HMV needs to get people into the store and can tap into a fair bit of local history in opening a live venue on Yonge Street. Over and above the fact that Yonge and Gould was once a nexus of record shops (most notably the former home to Sam the Record Man’s flagship location), the stretch of Yonge between Gerrard and Dundas was once a breeding ground for the city’s rock and roll scene.
The space will accommodate 140 people and go by the name HMV Underground, which is kind of fitting in its ’90s-ness. It was, after all, about 20 years ago when the store was at its peak of popularity. One doubts that a crossover plan like this will restore the location to its former heights, but it sure won’t hurt. Hosting live shows is tried and tested way for bricks and mortar record shops to generate traffic and interest on the part of local music fans. In that sense, it’s nothing new. But the size and sophistication of the venue is noteworthy. This isn’t a little stage tucked into the corner as an afterthought.
I mentioned in April 2012 that the store was going through some hard times, giving up half of its former space to (among other retailers) the Silver Snail comic shop. Doing something innovative with the space remaining is probably HMV’s only chance.
Toronto Star‘s Graham Slaughter has more.
Like other stores, HMV has ridden the peaks and valleys of the music business since the dawn of the Internet. A 2010 Statistics Canada study found that 87 per cent of youth aged 15 to 24 download songs at least once a week, while only 6 per cent exclusively listen to CDs.
This shift has hurt sales and triggered store closures, including Toronto HMVs at Sherway Gardens and on Queen St. W.
But the same Stats Canada research found seniors have remained loyal to tangible sound; 80 per cent of those polled over 65 said they only listen to music on traditional formats.
This demographic gap may be partly responsible for HMV Underground’s set list; the first performer will be Canadian classical guitarist Michael Kolk on May 3. The studio has also been reserved for the TD Toronto Jazz Festival in June.
However, Williams insists the Underground isn’t for one age group or music style.
“This isn’t exclusive just to those hardcore consumers, it’s for everybody. If we can bring new people in the store that’s all the better,” he said. “We’re selling the product that is there, but it’s about the artist. It’s a genuine brand extension, really.”
I learned last night via Xtra!‘s Rob Salerno that the nightclub Fly (official website, Yelp), famous beyond Toronto as the model for the nightclub Babylon in the American version of Queer as Folk, will be closing down at the end of WorldPride on the 30th of June.
Another gay dance club will close its doors for good after one last big bash during WorldPride. Fly owner Keir MacRae broke the news to his employees over the weekend that the club he’s operated for 15 years on Gloucester Street will shut down when his current lease expires June 30.
The adjacent resto-bar Fire on the East Side, also owned by MacRae, has already closed and is operating only for private functions.
The building Fly and Fire on the East Side are located in has been approved for redevelopment as a 29-storey condo, although developers have not announced plans to begin construction. MacRae says the landlord offered him the option of renewing his lease but demanded a large rent increase for anything more than a short-term extension. MacRae says that keeping the club going just a year at a time doesn’t make sense.
“It’s never been a fly-by-night operation. We plan our events months ahead. The numbers and the terms that they wanted didn’t make sense.”
[. . .]
“It’s a great place and central; I hope someone takes it over,” he says. “It really depends on whether the landlord wants to come to a deal with someone. The space is there, the liquor licence is there, it has a dancefloor. There’s nothing like it in downtown Toronto.”
blogTO’s Derek Flack emphasizes the extent to which this closure, as well of that of Zippers on Carlton, is the product of pressure to build condos.