Silent majority against flash mob disco tours – Kevin Buckle

Disco inferno: Guru Dudu leads silent disco dancers through the Grassmarket
Disco inferno: Guru Dudu leads silent disco dancers through the Grassmarket
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Often when Avalanche was in the Grassmarket I would be met by a large group of whooping and boisterous folk as I left the shop after work. Undoubtedly annoying and certainly a little too noisy to say the least they would be making their way from one pub to the next on a stag do.

You were left with no option but to walk around them which was easy in a pedestrianised Grassmarket and they were no more than a slight irritation I admit. A little more troublesome was if you came across them on Victoria Street making their way to the Grassmarket where they blocked the entire pavement and sometimes half the road.

This would be early in the night so little by way of drunken idiocy just folk enjoying themselves a little too loudly and with little consideration for those around them trying in my case to get to the station and make my way home.

In any group there would normally be a couple of folk being noisier and more annoying than the rest but generally there was a pack mentality in which I’m sure normally considerate people got caught up in behaviour they themselves would consider unreasonable.

With this in mind it was with surprise I saw a good number of people defending silent discos when I was tagged on a tweet about calls to have their activities curbed.

Those complaining were seen as killjoys wanting to limit the numbers and see the operations regulated something that was being avoided by no money being taken on the street.

All regulations it seems relate to street traders so somebody using the streets of Edinburgh but taking their money online were exempt from any restrictions.

This was a good example of what I was referring to last week when I said that often internet related matters needed intervention and couldn’t be left to work themselves out.

In my innocence it would seem to me that it should be a relatively easy matter to include the taking of money online for street activities to be added to actually taking money on the street but it would appear not.

There was lots of talk of all the benefits visitors bring to Edinburgh but I doubt anybody comes especially to Edinburgh for the silent disco experience and the only people I see financially benefitting are the organisers and substantially too if their prices are anything to go by. Meanwhile residents and rates paying businesses are routinely disrupted.

I don’t think those objecting were being particularly snobby as some said and believe me I know this can often be the case. While it is a certain type of person who goes on an 18 to 30 holiday similarly it is not everybody’s desire to join a flash mob and go sightseeing.

It would make sense to allow people to walk up and pay on the street yet the organisers deliberately don’t allow that so they cannot currently be regulated.

That in itself says something.

Jo Mowat who to be fair is the city centre councillor most likely to put her head above the parapet on twitter was quickly accused of trying to regulate fun when all she was saying was that the current legislation was outdated and obviously needed updating to allow for the different ways people make payments these days.

I’m fairly sure that silent discos could be banned from Edinburgh’s streets without denting visitor numbers or its economy but clearly if they can be licensed to behave responsibly and some people enjoy them there is no reason for such extreme measures. However given the current narrow thouroghfares they often use it is hard to see how they can operate responsibly.

I have always hoped to one day see a silent disco coming one way down a narrow close and meeting a well oiled stag do coming in the opposite direction. Now that is something I would pay good money to see!

HMV Have More Vinyl for a reason

Today is Record Store Day which among many things means HMV made their annual pitch to be included. This year of course it was under different ownership again as HMV and FOPP are now owned by vinyl loving Canadian Doug Putman.

While Mr Putman comes over as a likeable character at least more interested in music than his predecessors his claims that he will increase business on several fronts while not affecting the independent shops who currently own Record Store Day have to be seen as disingenuous.

HMV and FOPP have been given massive advantages in their trading terms as record companies, distributors and labels try to keep them afloat and these terms already impact greatly on the indies.

The greatest advantage HMV has is that stock is not paid for until sold. Given that 95% plus of vinyl titles will not sell before indies would be expected to pay for them that greatly limits what indies can stock and means HMV can stock whatever they like.

Even the one advantage indies are seen to have in that most weeks there will be indies only versions of vinyl new releases hides the fact that much of the time the indie labels and bands sell more of these releases than all the shops put together.

While I have access to the music industry sales figures by format, area and store type it is impossible to see how big a piece of the sales cake the labels now have as their figures are all lumped in with the indies both hiding their sales and masking how bad the shop sales might be.

If HMV and FOPP are to increase their sales they will not do so at the expense of labels as they have direct access to the artists to offer signed copies and the wherewithal to create exclusive packages. Mr Putman talks about attracting high street shoppers so clearly has no intention of taking on Amazon either and currently HMV’s website does not accept online orders.

From what I can see that leaves the indies directly in his sights. When HMV and FOPP fell the first time there was talk of the necessity for a level playing field and instead HMV were given even greater advantages which appear to only have increased under the new regime.

Maybe the independents can be given HMV’s trading terms and FOPP and HMV can join Record Store Day. Seems like a fair swap!

Tartan tat direct

One of new HMV owner Doug Putman’s biggest advantages in buying HMV was that he was not Mike Ashley. That goodwill may well wear off if there is no Plan B once the vinyl as the saviour plans falter but by then Mr Ashley will probably have bought another half a dozen businesses.

There appears to be no business Mr Ashley won’t consider turning his hand to so it would be particularly interesting should he decide to move into tartan tat. Now that would be a high street battle!