Digital HMV Timeline

All new look HMV Digital launches

By | Published on Monday 26 July 2010

As expected, HMV will properly launch its all new look download service this week at hmvdigital.com. It’ll sell MP3s and do all sorts of crazy modern stuff, don’t you know.

Much is being made of the fact top 40 singles will be available for just 40p, and that chart albums will retail at £4.99, though one assumes HMV won’t be relying entirely on cost cutting to try to steal some of the digital music market away from market leader iTunes. It’s not like it’s a strategy that has particularly worked for Amazon or Play.com.

HMV have dabbled with digital before, of course, their original HMV Digital proposition being based around an almost unusable proprietary player that about nine people actually installed. It was a service that prioritised signing up subscribers over selling a la carte tracks like iTunes, a model that – at the time – more or less nobody wanted outside the youth demographic being targeted by Napster or the muso community being serviced by eMusic. To be fair, these were the days when major labels still insisted on all downloads being DRM protected, meaning HMV couldn’t sell MP3s and therefore couldn’t service iPod owners.

The new look service has been developed by 7Digital, the London-based digital firm in which HMV now has a 50% stake, of course. They were one of the first to capitalise on the major labels’ late in the day realisation that “DRM is dumb”, and know a thing or two about developing and running user-friendly download services that work with all major digital devices. Though I still don’t understand why HMV insists on keeping its digital service on a separate website from its mail-order operation, as if consumers are either physical shoppers or digital consumers but never both. But hey, what to I know?

Confirming the new HMV service, that has been in beta for a while, will launch this week, HMVs Head Of Online Sarah Hughes told reporters: “We are delighted to launch a world class download store that reflects both HMV’s music retailing heritage and our strategy to be a broad-based entertainment brand. Our partners at 7Digital have built for us a significantly improved new site that looks great and has never been easier to use. With so many innovative and wonderful features, it offers a truly intuitive and engaging customer experience that I very much hope will lead to HMV becoming a bigger player in the burgeoning digital market”.

Elsewhere in HMV news, the retailer has announced it has completely refinanced a whole year before current banking and financing facilities run out, meaning it has financial partners in place until at least 2013. Terms of the new financing deal are not known.



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