Richard Branson: 'Apple and the Internet Has 'Killed' High-Street Record Shops'

Virgin Group boss offers grim prognosis for high-street music retail.

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Virgin Group media mogul Richard Branson has offered a grim prognosis for high-street record stores in light of influence from Apple and the internet, NME reports. Speaking with French radio station Europe 1, Branson offered the following comments:

"Generally speaking Apple is magnificent, but Apple has killed the music stores, as has the internet."

However, when Branson was asked if he directly blamed Apple for the decline in high-street music stores, he remained more philosophical:

"No, you just have to accept that technology moves on. We had the Virgin stores for 30 years, but nothing is forever, sadly."

Branson’s comments comes in the week of the high-profile release of iTunesRadio, Apple’s digital streaming service.

Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, offered the following description of the service last month:

"iTunes Radio is an incredible way to listen to personalised radio stations which have been created just for you ... It's the music you love most and the music you're going to love, and you can easily buy it from the iTunes Store with just one click.">

Do you agree with Branson or you have the different point of view? Share with us in the comments.

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28 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I'm no record snob, but I will be sad when I can no longer purchase a physical copy of an album in a shop, and I'm restricted to buying CDs online.
    let's hope that CDs and vinyls survive.
    I never really understood the love for CDs. A vinyl album has a certain fidelity, and forces you to listen to it in one sitting, so I understand the appreciation for that. Other than being the first format many people of this generation have bought, I don't see any real value other than nostalgia to CDs.
    You can skip around on vinyl just like you can a CD, it's just more manual. Also the fact most albums are made digitally now kind of ruins the supposed analog advantage of vinyl. It all comes down to people liking physical formats for the tangibility and artwork. CD just happens to be the last major one. And I guess no one gives a **** about cassette.
    The monolithic record labels like Virgin had a strangle hold on the distribution of music for a long time and were able to act as the gatekeepers. They're now crying, because they didn't keep up with the times and try to react to the whole MP3 thing in general. The moment they heard about Napster and MP3s, they should have been working day & night to develop a more convenient legal alternative as opposed to trying to stamp out ingenuity, or they could have simply bought out Napster.
    Pablo Mortis
    Virgin have just started putting people in space; I hardly think they're "crying" over records, and you can hardly accuse them of being outdated.
    itunesradio > taking your money to make a playlist of songs you already have + songs you don't have and you may not even like.
    High street shops like HMV yes, but a lot of Independent stores are still surviving, especially ones that specialise in vinyl, there's more variety in those places and you can usually find what you're looking for, whereas HMV barely has any of the music I listen to.
    I don't mind buying music off an internet platform, I only want it to sound to it's full potential. If most people did the test of listening to an mp3 of a song compared to the same song in AIFF 24bit 48 000hz they would prefer the latter (or at least couldn't deny the improvement of quality). We have the technology to have 2 Terabytes HD's the size of an iPod nano and yet all the industry is providing are compressed formats you're listening to on your 32Go drive because "awesome I can put 20 000 songs on it". How about raising the standard instead of the quantity? I'd buy that. I don't like bandcamp calling me a "snob" when I download an album in FLAC. If my song is a dollar, my 15 songs album is 15$ why should I cope with a lesser quality than 16bit 44.1khz CD when I paid the exact same price that of a Cd or vinyl? And of course I have the choice I can fill my Ipod with 14 aiff and stfu, but I feel somehow companies willingly keep the user uneducated, because they're busy making money off a format that they've bet all on and around which they've built their products so they're not going to want to change until the customers and the market wants more for their money.
    Iv'e always wondered, because I don't download music, if Apple went bust, would the Itunes program on your computer shut down and would you lose your music.
    the library of music you have already payed for and downloaded will still be on your computer. MP3s of each song are stored on your computer and apple devices. you would lose the ability to download any music you have already payed for and havent downloaded, or any music you accidently delete.
    Do you listen to CDs only? I have 15K songs on my iPod and can take that anywhere. Can you drive around with 1000 CDs in your car?
    You could buy the CD then rip it yourself. He might just mean he doesn't purchase non-physical music.
    link no1
    Does it matter if somebody listens to CD's only? Nobody cares how many songs you have on your iPod or whether you think it's practical or not to carry around 1000's of CDs in your car.
    Having instantaneous access to 15000 songs is great but are you going to listen to them all? Using CDs forces you to plan, to think a little about your mood. Perhaps you'll want to experience music in album form rather than a series of disjointed shuffle tracks. I find I need the feeling that I've thought about what I want to listen to. The instant gratification of mp3 players just screws up my attention span. Either way it's just personal choice.
    Times change, the internet changed many many things. Video stores, shopping centers to name a couple. Music sadly is hit pretty hard by it, yeah..
    Surely the point is how much money gets back to the artists? Nothing to do with medium for them, and I hear scary stories about small money getting back them from online channels.
    You know over time I'm beginning to not care so much. The attachment of looking through a shop is really just you going through plastic and cardboard. Sure there may be nostalgia but nothing to really make me feel like it's worth keeping. Things are a lot more available now. Self-releasing is easier. Higher quality downloads are slowly becoming more common. And it's not like physical music will disappear with big record stores. There's still vendors selling vinyl and cassette among other formats. As long as there's a pretty big market for these things (and there is) there will still be small stores and online stores selling physical copies and labels will continue to make them.
    until I saw the check of $7004, I did not believe that my friends brother could actualie making money in their spare time online.. there sisters neighbour started doing this for under 10 months and just repaid the dept on their house and got a great new Audi Quattro. read what he said
    While I do mourn the loss of brick and mortar music stores, and true "albums" for that matter, I think it is bullshit to blame Apple. They were just smart enough to predict and profit from the shift of market trend. It WOULD of still happened otherwise. Technology is obviously here to stay. There will always be musicians who utilize current advances for beneficial artistic means, and opportunists who manipulate it for financial gain. What about that has changed in the past 50 years? I mean, the 4-track was an absolute revelation at the time of its invention. The medium for receiving music has been changing since... well, the beginning of music (and video... laser disk anyone?). There isn't much we can do. P.S. LOL @ the guy saying a 2 TB(!?) iPod nano HD is so simple to implement (especially in the days of SSD). Good luck bringing that one down to cost.
    You're right, I don't know what I'm talking about, just threw random facts to suit my point of view, and I am also prepared to take all the time in the world to argue with you about that on the internet, because people on the internet having their fact straight is all I care about when i'm off from my 10 years old job in the field or data storage.
    It's killed the dedicated record store, but stores that sell plenty of things including music are still doing fairly well going from the sales at my local JB Hi-Fi and Target.