Why we need to do something about internet – Kevin Buckle

Streaming services such as Spotify have played havoc with music retail sector. Picture: PA
Streaming services such as Spotify have played havoc with music retail sector. Picture: PA
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Whenever there is a major change in people’s behaviour it takes a while for those affected to adjust. This applies especially to businesses so whether it is folk no longer going to the pub or changing their shopping patterns the consequences are well documented.

There are of course lots of examples in many areas and while some successfully adjust others just simply fall by the wayside. Without doubt the major cause of these changes is the access people now have to the internet. Whereas before when there was a change things would then stand still and give time to catch up the problem now would appear to be that things move faster than adjustments can be made.

Don't believe the hype ' only a tiny percentage of people listen to music on vinyl any more

Don't believe the hype ' only a tiny percentage of people listen to music on vinyl any more

Intervention is, of course, common in some areas and the current mantra that we can’t simply sit back and do nothing with regards to reducing pollution levels in Edinburgh’s city centre is well argued but we really need to look at other areas where positive intervention is needed.

Obviously the recommendations of the City Centre Transformation plan are due soon but really these matters go well beyond that and should inform how councillors are making their decisions on a daily basis. Currently too much is being left to “work itself out” when history already shows that that isn’t going to resolve matters.

I can completely understand why councils aren’t keen to be seen to be intervening too much and when they do over something like the A-boards it certainly doesn’t go down well in some quarters but from a business viewpoint whether it is the Royal Mile or Princes Street or areas less high-profile it is clear that intervention is needed and just leaving things to sort themselves out isn’t an option.

Of course the internet hasn’t just affected shops and the music industry’s relationship with the internet is a rocky one too with everything from Amazon to Spotify causing issues. Record Store Day, which takes place next Saturday, was of course an early attempt to counter the internet’s effect on shops but now involves much of the stock being sold online.

Maybe for many of the problems there simply may not be solutions and at best all that can be done is delay the inevitable but certainly all is not lost in some cases. The biggest problem is often those making the decisions are not directly affected by those decisions and those who are affected are powerless to generate change.

Whatever the future holds it is certainly better to have tried than to sit back and do nothing. The internet has been a marvellous tool in many ways but has had serious consequences for society too on many levels.

It needs to be accepted that trying to do something has to be better than doing nothing and hoping things will work themselves out.

Relying on a vinyl solution could be risky

Next Saturday is Record Store Day and while what is on offer may have little to do with giving the public good value these days it should not be forgotten that the idea of supporting local independent record shops is a good one and deserves to be supported.

It is not something I personally want to be involved with these days but it is a yearly reminder that record shops do still exist. While everything has gone very well since Avalanche’s return to the high street the one thing that has not surprised me but is still disappointing is that while people do still regularly ask what we are playing they almost never buy the album but instead just tap the name into their phone.

There were always albums guaranteed to sell if you played them to a shop full of people and that avenue of sales is now lost completely, which is a shame because little known artists could see their profile boosted greatly this way if their album had the desired effect.

It should also not be forgotten that in terms of how people choose to listen to music the most recent figures just reported by the trade magazine Music Week show that vinyl has a 3.6 per cent share of the global market, something you would never suspect from all the headlines. It also reveals a possible flaw in HMV and FOPP’s plan to bounce back by concentrating on selling more vinyl. Like everything else to do with the high street nobody knows what things will be like this time next year for record shops but certainly HMV’s future will be clearer and hopefully with support the high street in general will have started to show a recovery.

Edinburgh in particular waits with bated breath to see what happens after the opening of the St James Centre as that will without doubt distort the market again and may possibly undo any good work that has been done. Only time will tell.

I’m taking steps to help with customers’ queries

When Avalanche was in Cockburn Street the most common question we would be asked is do these steps go down to the station, which of course they did. When we were in the Grassmarket the most common question was do these steps go up to the castle, which they also did.

Now at Waverley Mall and no steps in sight the most common question is are there any toilets but not far behind are people looking for a post office. What is strange about this is that we are based next to the post office.

I can only assume people walk in and just ask the first shop they come across but often not content with knowing they only have to go next door they start to ask about the services they provide. Luckily the Mall post office offers a full range of services!

In a break from post office enquiries I was recently asked if there was anywhere nearby that a key could be cut, which took me back to my comfort zone of steps only this time it was the Waverley Steps.