I was a little sad to see music retailer Sounds close its doors this week as it went into voluntary administration with debts of around $20 million.
I grew up browsing the shelves at Sounds, it was where I hung out while my mother did the shopping. But it's clear that the company just wasn't innovative enough to deal with the dramatic shift in the music industry brought about by the rise of digital music and the culture of downloading.
I download music but I also spend more money on music in retail stores than I used to - I discover all sorts of bands on Lastfm.com and head to Real Groovy to buy the CDs.
If I didn't have time to browse the special imports or second-hand bins there I'd pop into the CD Store on the rare occasion, The Warehouse to pick up an album. It became obvious that Sounds had become lost between these two players, its unique selling point unclear.
In the new era of music retailing you need to have an angle. Either you're a favourite of the locals because you push local music and know exactly what your core audience is looking for, like Slowboat Records in Wellington, go for the big "Virgin Mega Store" type concept, where most people just come to browse the shelves (Real Groovy and Borders do that here), or you play the volume game like the CD Store and The Warehouse do. Anything in between is dangerous ground.
In the UK however, music retailers aren't preoccupied with falling CD sales. They think DRM is restricting the rate that CD sales are replaced by digital downloads and are calling on the music labels to strip their music of DRM.
That's probably an inevitable outcome and some labels have already dropped DRM. The sooner it happens the better for everyone concerned. But as new research from analyst group Jupiter showed this week, the growth in digital music sales isn't going to be enough to save the music industry.
"Overall, it's not a pretty picture for some parts of the industry, and the forecast hammers home the idea that labels must act more like management companies, and tap into the broadest collection of revenue streams and licensing as possible.
Advertising and creative packaging and bundling will have to play a bigger role than they have," wrote analyst David Card.
BusinessWeek has its 'best and worst in tech for 2007' report out.
SanDisk's Sansa music player appeared to do well this year as did the Slingbox, which lets you view your home TV channels on a computer via the internet. No one really knows what Blu-ray and HD-DVD mean and there are already shortages of Microsoft's revamped Zune.
And finally, the winner for worst customer service of the week goes to... Slingshot.
Thanks guys, but I'd rather not have someone with poor English call me up on a Friday afternoon asking to know how much I spend on toll calls and then hang up on me when I decline to tell them.