HMV is relaunching its online strategy seven months after it was bought out of administration. The entertainment retailer, which is now owned by restructuring specialist Hilco, has kickstarted its new digital strategy with a free mobile phone app, which was launched on Thursday.
The app allows shoppers to buy or listen to tasters of tracks by scanning CD covers, posters or adverts in store or elsewhere or by playing songs from the radio into their phone. It will be the first non-iTunes based digital music download app available via Apple phones.
Users can buy or pre-order tracks from HMV’s digital catalogue and store them online to play on Android or Apple phones.
The retailer’s digital music store will be fully integrated into a revamped website, which is due to launch next week, extending the ability to listen to and buy digital music to other platforms, including Windows PC and the BlackBerry 10 and Windows smartphones.
Paul McGowan, the chief executive of Hilco Capital and chairman of HMV, said: “HMV’s position at the heart of entertainment retail demands that we enable customers to buy their music from HMV in the way that best suits them and to engage more closely with the music, video and gaming worlds.”
Hilco’s £50m buyout of HMV secured 2,500 jobs at 141 shops, just over half the chain. The buyout was strongly supported by music labels keen to back an alternative to the online behemoth Amazon. HMV fell into administration in January amid tough competition from supermarkets and online stores. It also struggled to cope as shoppers switched rapidly to digital downloads of music, films and computer games and increasingly used online services such as Spotify and Netflix, rather than browsing for CDs and DVDs on the high street.
HMV’s new app and online store is part of a fightback strategy as nearly 30% of music sold in the UK was downloaded last year compared with about 20% in 2010, according to figures from retail analysts Conlumino. By 2015, about 45% of music is expected to be downloaded.
Alongside the new app and website, McGowan said HMV would also be revitalising its YouTube channel and stepping up the number of live events in its stores.
Hilco is hoping to repeat the success it has had so far with HMV Canada, which it bought several years ago.
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