The record shop remain optimistic and open to the idea of expansion...
While the future – if there is to be one – of HMV’s Irish stores remains unclear, Tower Records has told Hot Press that business is brisk enough for them to consider expanding.
“Before saying anything about Tower, I’d like to pass my best wishes on to all the HMV staff – it’s in everybody’s interest to have a strong music retail presence on the high street, and I hope some or all of those jobs can be saved,” proffers Tower Dublin Manager Clive Brannigan.
“We’d be a bit different to HMV in that we don’t do games; the UK side of the company also moved into live venues, which didn't go too well for them. CDs are still our biggest market, and we work hard to ensure that our catalogue is as deep as possible. That’s the main reason people come in here.
“Crucial too is the local aspect. If we do a window display for a record there’s normally some sort of financial arrangement with the act or the label, but it’s in our interests as well as the artists’ to rack Irish releases prominently and stick posters up. Going back over the years, a band like the Redneck Manifesto would have sold a lot of records through Tower. We’ve sold a massive amount of Villagers albums these past few weeks – 20% of them being on vinyl. It’s not going to return and save the industry, but the vinyl market has grown three or four years in a row and is an important revenue stream for us. A lot of that’s down to specialist labels like Music On Vinyl from Holland doing 180g reissues that look and sound great. If the package is right people will buy it.”
What’s the best way for labels and artists going the DIY route to approach Tower?
“Anybody with a release coming up can contact us – the earlier the better – at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll take it from there. There are very few things we turn down.”
With their Wicklow Street and O’Connell Street outlets both profitable, Tower have been casting a cautious eye around the country.
“It’s easy amidst all the economic doom and gloom to say music’s screwed, but it’s not,” Brannigan insists. “Opening in other parts of the country is something we’ve looked at over the years, and I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. You can tell visiting cities around Ireland that there’s a market still for physical music. An obstacle you’d have to remove is rents, which are stuck in the Celtic Tiger era. If the politicians or whoever can get that sorted, who knows?”
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