Page last updated at 12:05 GMT, Friday, 12 February 2010

Indies band together to stem UK music store decline

Person searching CDs
Physical music sales - such as CDs - have been falling in recent years

An online database of the UK's remaining independent record stores has been launched in an effort to stem a decline in the sector.

Fewer than 300 indie stores now exist compared to 774 in 2004.

The rising popularity of digital music is one factor that has hit the sector - of the 150m singles sold in the UK last year, 98% were downloads.

Indierecordshop will help people find their local store and showcase what it can offer, such as in-store gigs.

The website has been built and sponsored by Digitalstores and is supported by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).

Declining market

"What we're hoping to do is support those that are still in the market," Kim Bayley, ERA director general told the BBC.

"It's hard to tell whether it's going to stem the tide, but I think, to be honest, we've seen most of the fallout in the sector and the stores which are left are probably the best of the best."

But the problems affecting High Street stores have not just been limited to the independent sector.

According to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which represents the British recorded music business, in 2008 there were 7,753 shops selling recorded music, including 115 Zavvis, 807 Woolworths and 60 Borders stores - all names which have now ceased to exist.

Meanwhile, existing High Street names have not been immune to competition from online and supermarket rivals.

HMV is coming to the end of a three-year "transformation plan" launched in response to falling sales of CDs and the growth of illegal music downloads.

As part of the strategy, it has taken a 50% stake in online music store 7digital, expanded its presence in the live music market by buying venue owner MAMA Group and even opened a pilot HMV Curzon-branded three-screen digital cinema in Wimbledon.

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