Monday, October 26, 2009

Changing their tune

The New Zealand Herald reported that New Zealand-owned Marbeck’s CD stores are about to open a “concept store” in Dunedin, a kind of "boutique Borders". Unremarkable news by itself, the article says that the new store “will be run by older staff than those usually seen in The CD and DVD Store” (the chain that bought Marbeck’s three years ago).

But what caught my eye was this: They plan to offer their own digital music downloading service. Roger Harper, Marbecks' managing director, told the Herald, "Initially, we viewed downloading as a threat, now we are working it into our business strategy, seeing it as an opportunity—we're not going to sell more CDs tomorrow." It’s the first time I’ve seen a traditional music retailer acknowledge that the future of music sales is digital music without a physical CD. Put another way, we consumers were right all along, they were wrong, and now, late in the game, they realise that.

The move to digital music, adding books, knowledgeable staff and a café, and even avoiding use of the extremely limited—and increasingly old fashioned—company name, "The CD and DVD Store" shows that the customer is always right. For their sake, I hope they didn’t learn that lesson too late.

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