I am willing to admit it here and now; I have illegally downloaded music in the past, and I will probably continue to. Any sneering is welcome, but please look in the mirror pre-sneering. People illegally download for a number of reasons: a) they want to listen to the album before committing their hard-earned money b) it’s free and c) it is much easier to just download it from your own home. And I don’t blame these people. Here’s why…
I went into my local HMV yesterday and purchased two CDs. They were pretty easy to find as both were new releases. Once I picked the two CDs up, I scanned the aisles that led to the till for any bargains and then went up to pay for my CDs (there were no bargains). I was greeted by a sales assistant in his mid-20′s who was nice enough, but then simply took the CDs off of me, scanned them and then I paid. Let’s compare it to something else, shall we? I went into Rough Trade East in London last Monday and bought three CDs. I picked up the one CD I wanted to buy, but then was drawn to the vast array of great music that was displayed. No gimmicks, no big pink stickers with ‘SALE – £6′ on it, just great music that is approved from the record store and then sold to consumers. I found two more CDs I wanted to buy, had another two or three good looks around the CDs on offer and then went to the till. Similarly, I was greeted by a sales assistant in his mid-20′s, who was also nice enough, but upon handing him the CDs he made comments about the CDs and opened discussion. I was made to feel as if what I was buying was actually worth buying. In HMV, I felt as if I was buying the CDs to keep their business alive (literally) instead of for my benefit and pleasure. I am not singling out Rough Trade here, nor am I saying that HMVs have average customer service, these are merely two recent comparisons.
Whilst I have done a gracious morris dance around the actual point, and as much as I don’t intend to sound like a virtual Mary Portas, customer service plays, in my opinion, a much bigger part than people think in keeping the music industry alive. Do you want people to carry on buying CDs? Get your staff to briefly brush up on the new releases perhaps and spark conversation with their customers when they purchase them perhaps, it will make them want to return next time. Even if you don’t know who the band are for Gods sake, just say that you like the album/single/EP, whatever it is they’re purchasing. If customers leave a record store with just a few CDs, where is the future incentive to go and buy music in it’s physical format as opposed to buying it off iTunes or Spotify?
Does anyone else feel the same? Do you disagree? And more importantly, do you still buy CDs? Let me know.