Live music: new brand owners and revenue growth?

16 January 2009

I heard something on the radio the other day: some exec from music retailer HMV explaining that they were getting into the live music venue business. They’re doing this because it’s “well-known” that that’s the fastest-growing part of the music business.

I was a little surprised by that. I’d think that economic downturns would keep people from buying concert tickets. Nevertheless, HMV is taking over and branding nearly a dozen venues around the UK, including a couple I frequent: the Borderline and the Hammersmith Apollo (the latter was previously branded, and I presume part-owned, by beer company Carling).

Last week I noticed that another company was continuing to do this as well and had made some acquisitions while I was out of the country at the end of last year. Mobile phone company O2, on the back of having such success with the O2 arena, took over several other Carling venues, notably the Academy chain found in many UK cities (including Brixton in London). They’ve also taken over the Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

I guess there’s not much difference between corporate ownership by a beer company and corporate ownership by a mobile phone service provider. I do have to say that O2 have done a bang-up job with the arena.


  1. It’s not fast-growing. But a near-zero-growth business is better than HMV’s core business — physical album sales — which is dying faster than a dinosaur on Meteor Day. And they waited too long to get into downloads, so now Apple, etc. are dominant there.

    I don’t know what it’s like in the UK, but here just about every HMV is half the size it was two years ago, and now they sell far more DVDs and video games than music.

  2. I’ve not seen an HMV that’s closed or downsized, but you’re right that DVDs and videogames are a much bigger part of their sales than they used to be. Whatever they’re selling HMV had their biggest Christmas ever here.

  3. […] of the Year awarded British Music Experience open at the O2 10 March 2009 In its continuing efforts to take over the world of live music, O2 has just opened the British Music Experience at the O2 […]

  4. I have posted an article about live music venues in the UK on my blog: http://getyourbandon.wordpress.com/

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