People long for the light, and that’s what the books in my store do. They shed light in time of darkness. That’s why a bookstore is the place where heaven and earth meet.Those are the words of George Whitman, founder of the famous Shakespeare & Co bookstore in Paris, and I took that photo of his store a couple of years ago. Today comes the news that the HMV music retail chain in the UK is appointing an administrator. In recent years HMV stopped taking classical music seriously, but for many of us serendipitous discoveries in their flagship Oxford Street store were part of our musical education. As self-appointed cultural commentators speculate on who will head the Berlin Philharmonic in 2018 we are told to step into the digital era and stop buying CDs. But what will classical music look like in 2018? Are we right to accept the loss of bricks and mortar retailers and the death of the CD as an inevitable consequence of new technologies? Are we confusing progress with intellectual property monopoly? Have eBooks established a restrictive business model that recorded classical music will be forced to adopt? Will a proprietary Amazon music download format join Apple’s iTunes? Will Amazon become a record label as well as a book publisher? Will the hegemony of the online retailers soon be complete? In the future will an alliance of Amazon and Apple decide who conducts the Berlin Philharmonic – just as today the legacy record companies dictate who conducts the Vienna Philharmonic’s new year’s day concert? Will heaven and earth ever meet online? Is classical music asking the right questions?
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