Gramophone demise latest in ailing industry

FAREWELL: The Gramophone store at The Cathay was closed for stock-taking when My Paper visited it yesterday afternoon. By noon yesterday, the company's website had been taken down.


    Sep 19, 2013

    Gramophone demise latest in ailing industry

    WITH CDs fast becoming a thing of the past and major music retailers closing over the years, many have thought that it was only a matter of time before local record chain Gramophone folded.

    In a letter to its suppliers - which include music-record labels - on Tuesday, the company announced its intention to put up its shutters for good.

    Gramophone explained in the letter that the decision was due to present market conditions, which will not allow its inventory - its "main asset" - to "fetch enough to pay off 100 per cent of the sums due to suppliers and other creditors".

    It added: "We thank all suppliers for their support and express our deep regrets that, despite our best efforts over the years, we are forced to take this course of action."

    A separate statement was also issued to the media last evening announcing the closure.

    When My Paper visited Gramophone's store at The Cathay yesterday afternoon, the shutters were closed.

    The clear glass walls of the shop front were lined with movie posters and staff inside could be seen packing items into cardboard boxes.

    A paper sign at the entrance said that the store was closed for "stock-taking" until Saturday.

    The company's other outlet at Parkway Parade closed for good last month.

    By noon yesterday, the company's website had been taken down. A posted message said the website closure was due to a "weaker than expected response".

    Gramophone is the latest to exit the shrinking music retail industry in Singapore, following the closures of American giant Tower Records and home-grown CD retail shop Sembawang Music Centre, in 2006 and 2009 respectively.

    Gramophone had been a staple of die-hard music aficionados for about two decades, with at least seven shops in its heyday.

    A My Paper report in April quoted findings by Swiss-based global trade organisation International Federation of the Phonographic Industry which said revenue for physical-music sales here fell from US$12.8 million (S$16.1 million) in 2011 to US$8 million last year.

    Universal Music Singapore marketing director Lim Teck Kheng told My Paper that consumer habits have changed.

    "Everyone is going digital and, as a record label, we have to adapt to that," he explained.

    He pointed out that record labels all over the world are diversifying their sales as well.

    But Mr Lim added that some physical music retail stores can still weather such competition, as long as they "realign their services".

    "There are people out there who want to own a physical copy of the CD."

    Mr Simon Nasser, general manager of Warner Music Singapore, noted that more people are buying vinyl records these days.

    "Non-traditional stores will definitely have what it takes to turn things around when they deliver products that suit today's lifestyles," he said.

    Aviation-security executive Jeremy Chua, 24, gets his music fix from shops selling vinyl records at Adelphi and Peninsula Plaza, and Gramophone's closing came as no surprise.

    Mr Chua said: "People have been downloading music files legally since iTunes was made available locally. No one really wants to keep CDs anymore because they take up physical space."