Another One Bites The Dust

Another One Bites The Dust

"Music and film retailer HMV is preparing to call in the administrators as it becomes the highest profile chain to collapse during the current economic malaise…" (The Guardian, Jan 14, 8.52 p.m.)

For all that HMV was pretty marginal to the distribution of traditional music in recent years, and has probably been pretty shot away by Internet trade, the demise of this major UK store must be something of a milestone to - whatever.

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It is pretty bizarre, though - if you walked past the HMV store in Cheltenham in December it was pretty packed.

I like CDs but in our household (two teenagers who buy music) they mostly buy downloads rather than physical CDs (although CDs do have a ‘vintage’ appeal for them)!

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Artists with a fairly limited audience (i.e. trad musos) have probably done far better with internet sales than they ever have done with HMV. I would also suggest that HMV is more a victim of the internet than it is a victim of the struggling economy. Brave new world.

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There is only one store left in our area that has any trad CDs at all, a little chain called Newbury Comics, and many of them are used disks being re-sold. Some of the big book superstores used to carry CDs also, but they seem to be phasing them out. Soon the internet will be the only place to get such things. I was sad about that, but this whole ‘superstore with a big inventory’ concept was a relatively recent development—when I was a kid, I remember getting a lot of books and records by mail order, so I suppose we are moving back in that direction, just with the internet replacing the mail.

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I cross-posted with Mark, but like his teenagers, I also prefer downloads. Mp3s were probably the best thing that ever happened to my music collection. I used to have a disorganised and disastrous pile of CDs. Now I have a disorganised and disastrous pile of Mp3s on iTunes (for instance, lots of nameless recordings and tracks with helpful labels like "Track 12" or "reels"), but this is better because I can ask the computer to search for the ones that haven’t lost their names and they can’t get lost, stepped on, or disappear behind a sofa for months.

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Someday, I will learn to leave discs behind. The jump from vinyl discs to silver ones was hard enough. But for the time being, because of the better sound quality of CDs, and their simplicity, I think I will stick with them.

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Warning: Grumpy Post Alert

The shift from physical media to downloads is a terrible step, with functions such as shuffle (as much as I like to use it from time to time myself) diminishing the creative processes that go into producing a well thought out album. When you listen to a whole album you can appreciate the arc of the songs/tunes and the thought that has gone into the track ordering. That just does not happen so much these days. Downloaded music also does not have the benefit of the artwork/liner notes that you would get from a physical album. In the case of the cd that our session put out last relatively recently (http://thesession.org/recordings/3912 - what a weak plug!!) that is a 16 page booklet. (The tracks are also available for download however and is on Spotify for all you cool kids…)

CDs in themselves are a compromise on the piece of art that was a record sleeve.

At least there are still places where you can buy traditional music albums such as Custy’s in Ennis and the one in Belfast (whose name escapes me) around the back of the Castle Court. In Scotland there is Coda Music in Edinburgh and Footstompin for online sales.

All the same, the loss of HMV is a sore one.

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"because of the better sound quality of CDs, and their simplicity, I think I will stick with them"

For many of them, it’s all about the liner notes!

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crossed with NCFA

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I only ever play music in my car or on my laptop. I think the difference in sound quality between CDs and Mp3s is negligible when your sound systems of choice have crap speakers anyway. But not having an explosion of CDs strewn throughout the car? Priceless.

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I don’t see how it’s a dichotomous question of one or the other. It’s all good to me. I mean, what about the old vinals? (or even before that, the ones that used to smash to pieces when you threw them across the road like a frisbee). Whatever you can get hold of, it’s all good. We’re just so lucky nowadays to have this choice. And hang on , because there’s bound to be something even newer very shortly. As for HMV, well I doubt that anyone has actually lost any money. It’s just social evolution, and they’ll survive it in a new form.

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Ooops! Okay I admit that my spelling is atroshious (I meant vinyls). But there’s nothing wrong with my pronounciation!

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It is a shame but the HMV I used to know has long gone already as had Virgin(Later Zavvi) for many years before its official demise.
I had a look in one of the shops before Christmas and it appeared that tthe actual CD music was more of a side line. They were also selling everying from computer games, Ipods, DVDS, etc, etc. Also, what selection they had was very mainstream both in terms of latest releases and budget albums. For all of this, one would be just as well off going to Amazon.

Those record shops which will survive are likely to be smaller and much more specialised. Ideally too, they will employ staff who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the music as opposed to just trying to "shift units". These days, many record store and burger bar assistants are probably interchangeable. :-(

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I love the randomness of CDs. You’re leafing through your box of CDs, wondering what to play next. A piece of artwork catches your eye and you think ‘ooh, I haven’t heard that one for a while’. Same thing when you’re buying. Some of my favourite albums have been random buys, by artistes I’d never heard of: you’re flicking through the bins in a music shop, an interesting looking sleeve catches your eye, so you buy it. Neither of those processes work when you are having to deliberately drill down through layers of menus to find what you want. I have the same trouble with ebooks.

As for listening in the car, I’d far rather have a pile of instantly recognizable disks on the seat beside me to choose from, than to try to pick from a menu on a screen I can barely see in the sunshine, using buttons so small that only a pixie could work them accurately. I bet mp3 players cause as many accidents as mobile phones. Yes, I could probably use a ‘playlist’. But before the start of a six hour drive I never know what sort of music I’ll feel like towards the end of the journey.

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I let my iPod run on shuffle about 95% of the time when I’m driving. Then I don’t have to really futz with it at all. I’m far to scatty and disorganised to put together playlists before long trips when I’m also trying to pack and not forget stuff. It’s far safer than the 70mph CD changes I used to do in the good old days (my car wasn’t cool enough to have one of those 6 CD changer things).

To make up for it, Mr. Spear doesn’t even have a CD player. He has a stack of tapes and LPs and a record player. The sound quality from the record player is, admittedly, better than the sound quality of any bit of technology I own. Tough to fit in the car, though.

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"As for HMV, well I doubt that anyone has actually lost any money."
Hold on Gobby! Here, what about the punters who bought gift vouchers and now the recipients will find they can’t use them. And what about all the suppliers to the various shop outlets - they’ll be mostly left swinging in the wind, when it comes to getting payment for goods supplied..

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I care not for the art of album making, I pick and choose the tracks I like and almost only listen to digitized music these days. I do however care for physical album art work and more importantly; album sleeve notes, sadly absent from mp3 downloads. Give me a physical CD any day of the week. I’ll pop it on to iTunes myself thanks.

HMV, can’t say I’ll miss them. Sadist loss in the music retail game for me was the closure of "The Record Rendezvous" in Inverness. Not put out of business by the internet or mp3 downloads, rather the local council doubling the rates. Shame, as this was thee place for trad recordings in the north of scotland, the guy that ran it was both knowledgeable and helpful. He has a place in the Arcade these days, or did the last time I looked, still, a shadow of his former shop.

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"Saddest", of course, although it could be argued that the doubling of the rates on inverness high street was the work of a sadist :~p

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It should also be remembered that HMV were paragons of rapacious capitalism and would quite happily consume and put out of business small record shops.

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Yes indeed. And the small labels. The likes of HMV and Virgin only bought from the corporate distributors, which is why their stock was so mainstream. The one good thing the switch to downloads has done is to give the independents a chance again. But no doubt within a year or two some greedy corporation will find a way to corner the online market, and we’ll be back where we started.

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I agree with No Cause For Alarm. My kids grew up with Itunes, with songs being individual entities, and really don’t know what an "album" is.

I waxed nostalgic about the days when we eagerly awaited each new album from a favourite band to see what would be on it, and when we got it would play it over and over. I tried to express the notion that an album could be greater than the sum of its parts, could be a "work" in its own right; my kids don’t really undertand the notion.

Even stranger to them is the thing in the old vinyl days when a person would listen to one side of an album over and over and never listen to the "flip side". I grew up with an older sister who was more "hip" than myself and she had a favourite stack of albums which stayed on the turntable and she would play over and over. With all those albums, all the songs on one side are forever burned into my memory while all the songs on the "flip sides" are unfamiliar to me.

I dislike "shuffle play" intensely because 1) it explodes albums into their constituant parts, removing the originally intended context and 2) you end up listening to the same finite collection of songs, like radio stations with a fixed play list (not an issue if you have a vast enough number of songs in your Ipod).

My kids have music on all the time, as a constant background noise, while doing homework or on the internet or whatever. I can’t do that. I only play music when I really want to listen to it, give 100% of my attention to it. I usually don’t listen to music when driving a car for example.

Being in the USA I don’t know what HMV is, but I do know that here it’s getting harder and harder to find anyplace that sells CDs. Itunes, and now the cloud, have pretty much replaced them.

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"…an interesting looking sleeve catches your eye, so you buy it." When Richard Branson opened his first stores, I seem to recall, his records were in plain white sleeves without any external markings, mainly because they were boot-legged or at least decidedly not mainstream. The big companies tried their hardest to shut him down, and now they are getting their just deserts.
People now buy (or illegally download) tracks because they like them, or are peer-pressured, rather than through the manipulation of the moguls. CDs are going the way of cassettes and watches.

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No, the reason for the white sleeves in the original virgin store is that the business was built on a tax fraud.

The records on sale were export versions, with no VAT paid. Branson took them in a Transit down to the harbour, cleared them through customs, then didn’t bother getting on the boat. He took them back to his warehouse, changed them into plain sleeves that couldn’t be identified as export versions and sold them on. He was prosecuted for it eventually. But because his daddy was a high court judge, he just had to pay back the VAT on the stock he held at the time, where anyone else would have been thrown in jail.

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I thought the "hip" thing to do with singles, back in the 70s, was to buy them FOR the flip sides! (Of course the cool thing to do was buy albums, but we couldn’t afford them!)

I don’t often have an opportunity to use my little Chinese MP3 player but I do like Random/Shuffle play. Even with a mix of styles it’s surprising how rarely you get a jarring change.

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"But because his daddy was a high court judge, he just had to pay back the VAT on the stock he held at the time, where anyone else would have been thrown in jail."

It’s amazing how stories become convoluted on t’net. Branson was convicted in 1971 - there was no VAT in the UK at that time. His Grandfather was the high court judge, and died when Richard Branson was one year old. His dad was a silk - and had just become a magistrate in the lower courts around the time of the case.

Anyway, do carry on.

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Whilst it is largely true that the big stores like HMV and Virgin predominantly bought from the big corporations that was not universally the case. Certainly with HMV there was some room for local preferences and the HMV opposite the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall had quite a good traditional and folk music section for a while. I gather this is because one of the staff was into the music and they gave him the scope to develop the section.

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"This section needs additional citations for verification."

Says it all, really. WikiP is OK as a starting point, but without the references, it’s not to be trusted.

Ironically, if the current VAT system was in force back then, it’s likely that no offence would have been committed. Anything destined for France would have had the VAT already applied, and unless the goods would have made the seller a turnover at, or above the threshold, then there would be no need to add it to the purchase price.
The old purchase tax system was quite different.
I’m not sure if Branson would have received a custodial sentence for a first offence, either. I don’t know the sums involved, and I’m not going to believe any stories circulating on the internet without reliable references.

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Wiki isn’t a good source.

My source was Tom Bower’s biography of Branson. The book was published in 2000, and, given Branson’s love of litigation, the fact that he hasn’t brought actions against either the author or publisher suggests to me that we can take it as true. The only inaccuracies were with my memory. As weejie points out, it was indeed purchase tax, not VAT that he was evading. And it was his grandfather who was the high court judge. His father was, at that time, an Inner Temple Barrister, not a magistrate. The fact remains that almost anyone else would have received a custodial sentence, Branson was saved by his connections.

Today, Branson and his group are almost certainly the biggest tax avoiders in Britain (the only possible rival is Barclays, whose business is so convoluted no ones can even estimate how much tax they are avoiding). The Virgin group consists of over 250 companies, only six of which are registered in Britain, and none of those six makes a profit. The Virgin brand is owned by a company registered in Geneva, and the British companies pay a ‘franchise fee’ which eliminates any profit in this country. Just like Starbucks. Yet we hear no complaint from the Government about either Virgin or Barclays, presumably because they are British, not American.

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"Wiki isn’t a good source."

"Says it all, really. WikiP is OK as a starting point, but without the references, it’s not to be trusted."

Sigh, I get this all the time…if you’re really interested and don’t trust it, go find out for yourself. If you’re only a little interested, and Wikipedia is good enough for you, great.

"Today, Branson and his group are almost certainly the biggest tax avoiders in Britain (the only possible rival is Barclays, whose business is so convoluted no ones can even estimate how much tax they are avoiding)"

Citations needed no?

"Yet we hear no complaint from the Government about either Virgin or Barclays, presumably because they are British, not American."

Ever heard of Vodafone? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/9323280/Vodafone-in-controversy-over-its-tax-bill.html

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You think vodaphone are in the same league as Barclays and Virgin? Besides, I don’t remember Cameron ever mentioning Vodaphone (although the general public are well aware of them) Amazon, Google and Starbucks were the companies he singled out in November.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jul/27/virgin-enterprises-geneva-tax-saving

I would urge anyone who is interested to read Tom Bower’s biography of Branson - apart from an in depth study of his tax strategy ( now a little out of date, but still a ‘must read’ for anyone thinking of setting up a multi-national empire ;-) ) it also explains why Mike Oldfield never got rich like contemporary super-stars. And the shenanigans behind his lottery bids and the war with British Airways are a real eye opener.

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"His father was, at that time, an Inner Temple Barrister, not a magistrate. "

"The QUEEN has been pleased by Warrant under Her
Royal Sign Manual dated the 17th day of May
1971, to appoint Edward James Branson, Esquire,
to be a Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate on the
18th day of May 1971."

http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/45372/pages/5157/page.pdf

As I said, he became a magistrate in the lower courts around the same time Branson got nicked.

What bearing his grandfather’s position as a high court judge would have, when he died twenty years before this happened, I don’t know.

All I can say is, if the misinformation was gleaned from Bower, then it doesn’t say much for the book.

"Sigh, I get this all the time…if you’re really interested and don’t trust it, go find out for yourself."

I don’t have a problem with a well referenced Wikipedia entry. However, one that isn’t fully referenced has to be taken at face value. I could change that article on Branson within a few minutes of submitting this post.

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In Aberdeen, it’s not only HMV going bust, "One-Up", an independent music shop is also going under, apparently. With "Bruce Miller’s" biting the dust last year, as well as "Fopp" and "Zavvi" the year before, I don’t think there’s a shop in the centre of Scotland’s 3rd largest city selling recorded music of any kind,
and certainly not Irish or Scottish traditional music.
Thankfully, we do still have Peter Murray’s "Celtic Chords" shop in Stonehaven, probably the best stock of traditional music north of the Glasgow-Edinburgh axis.

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At the time that the decision was made to drop the case, his father was still a barrister. Almost immediately afterwards he became a magistrate. You can read something into that not, as you wish. But favours sometimes have to be returned.

However, as I said, Branson’s grandfather was a high court judge, his father was a barrister. The family had very strong connections with the very top end of the British legal system. Or do you think that those sort of relationships and friendships, built up over a life time, all suddenly terminate when one member of the family dies?

As to the dropping of the case: remember this was a major, deliberate, fraud, which involved moving truck loads of records through customs, not just ‘cooking the books’. If you think people who commit that sort of crime are regularly let off scot-free, you’re living in another world.

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As to reliable references weejie, you might be happy to work from wiki, but as I said, I’m using Tom Bower book, . Knock it without reading it if you like. Tom Bower is an ex-Panorama reporter. The book is very, very critical of Branson, so I think we can be absolutely certain that if it contained the slightest inaccuracy it would have been very quickly taken off the shelves in a flurry of law suits and Branson publicity.

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Interesting observation on the radio here this afternoon that the major recording and multi media companies have been subsidising HMV for quite some time. On the basis that they needed a high street ‘shopfront’ for people to browse their products - even if the people then went away and bought the goods online. The reporter argued that the cost of doing this just became too high.

In the same way that bookshops and clothes stores now increasingly fulfill this role for other product lines. How long this model can last is anyone’s guess..

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Apparently when Branson got his first lot of re-conditioned locos and gave them a coat of paint, he said, ‘We shouldn’t really call them Virgin trains — they’re all f*cked.’
If it isn’t true, it should be.

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"As to reliable references weejie, you might be happy to work from wiki, but as I said, I’m using Tom Bower book, . Knock it without reading it if you like. Tom Bower is an ex-Panorama reporter."

That’s really funny. I haven’t even quoted from Wiki. I’ve actually pointed out the drawbacks of Wikipedia. I’ve given you a quote from a London paper, with the statutory announcement of Branson’s father’s appointment as a justice of the lower courts. Tom Bower worked as an "investigative journalist" - you might have noticed that they have been in the limelight recently.

" so I think we can be absolutely certain that if it contained the slightest inaccuracy it would have been very quickly taken off the shelves in a flurry of law suits and Branson publicity."

No, you cannot be certain. Do your homework. Before the publication of this book, Bower was indeed taken to court over an article in the Evening Standard (concerning Branson’s lottery bid). This was an important case, because it helped establish the principle of "fair comment" - indeed the defence was that the article contained comment rather than fact.
Any inaccuracies can be held not to be defamatory if they incapable of inference of dishonesty on the part of the defendant (and the judge in this case implied that there were inaccuracies). All Bower had to show is that he believed them to be true - that there was no malice on his part. It was a "public interest" judgement.

If all you can come up with is a false suggestion that I researched Wikipedia as opposed to your "book"with some notion that because Bower worked at one time for Panorama, he must be kosher, then you are out on a limb. As that court case indicated, he also worked for the Evening Standard, which at the time came from the same stable as the Daily Mail (which makes any Wiki article seem like gospel).

Your earlier assertion was full of inaccuracies - some of which you have admitted yourself. The pedigree of some muck spreading "biography" is of little relevance if you make such assertions - and it’s these kind of assertions that can give Wikipedia a bad reputation (you have quoted from Wiki, Skreech - I pointed out that it was a potentially unreliable source at that time). Unless a Wikipedia article is well referenced - and the citations can be followed up, then it is basically unreliable. As for your book - I hope you are happy with it. If it was your source for those earlier blunders, then you certainly have a false sense of security.

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First of all I haven’t quoted anything at all from Wiki in this thread. I’d like you to either show where you think I’ve quoted them or else admit that you are wrong.

As far as I can see, the only wiki quote in the whole thread comes from you - "This section needs additional citations for verification." Presumably because that is where you went to check my facts, and you just assumed that was where I’d gone too.

Secondly, none of your nit-picking makes any difference to anything. The reason that Virgin sold records in plain sleeves is still that Branson was defrauding the Government, and couldn’t sell records that said "Not for re-sale in within the UK" (or words to that effect) on the sleeve.

But don’t let me disillusion you. If you still want to believe in Richard Branson’s facade as a lovable patriot that he has worked so hard to produce (even the company name was deliberately chosen to suggest something squeaky clean, while the reality was very different) then you go ahead. For the rest of us, who prefer the truth, all the information is out there, all you have to do is look.

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I thought this site was supposed to be about Irish traditional music. Pardon my mistake.

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"First of all I haven’t quoted anything at all from Wiki in this thread. "

I didn’t say you had. You did quote from Wiki in a thread about creationism.

"As far as I can see, the only wiki quote in the whole thread comes from you -"

There was a link provided by STW. I then quoted from that link to point out that the article was lacking verification.

"Secondly, none of your nit-picking makes any difference to anything. The reason that Virgin sold records in plain sleeves is still that Branson was defrauding the Government, and couldn’t sell records that said "Not for re-sale in within the UK" (or words to that effect) on the sleeve"

Allegedly.

"If you still want to believe in Richard Branson’s facade as a lovable patriot that he has worked so hard to produce (even the company name was deliberately chosen to suggest something squeaky clean, while the reality was very different) then you go ahead. For the rest of us, who prefer the truth, all the information is out there, all you have to do is look."

Hilarious, as ever. Nice strawman, Skreech, Branson doesn’t interest me in the slightest. However, the fact that you posted some inaccurate information does. It’s not nitpicking to point out that the majority of the things you claimed in that passage were wrong. If you "prefer the truth", then why post so much "untruth"?

Somehow, because you have read a book by an ex-Panorama reporter, you seem to imagine you are "in the knowledge". Either you didn’t read it properly or a good deal of the "facts"you gleaned from it were fiction.

"I thought this site was supposed to be about Irish traditional music. Pardon my mistake."
Not necessarily. It does concern music. In fact I was in a "music"" store in Manchester when I first met Branson. Next time I saw him he was prancing about Gatwick airport. Still, I’d probably sooner buy a used car from him than Bower. I doubt if a car from either would last long.

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Before it is claimed that I said I hadn’t quoted from Wiki - when I had quoted a warning, I’ll re-phrase.

I haven’t quoted from Wiki to back up anything I’ve suggested here - like the introduction of VAT, Branson’s daddy (who I thought was a silk, but I’m not sure if he actually "took the silk") or things of that ilk.

And the snippet I was referring to where Wiki was used by you, Skreech, is here:
http://thesession.org/discussions/27409#comment583832

Still, I suppose it’s not too far off the mark to blether on about Branson in a thread ostensibly about HMV. He was a major rival.

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>>"Allegedly."

No, that is a matter of fact. The offence took place, he was caught red handed with a warehouse full or records, paperwork to say they had all been exported, and a van that the paperwork said was on a ferry in the middle of the channel at the time. It will all be on the police and court records. ‘Allegedly’ only comes into it when you ask about why, after spending a lot of time and money on an undercover police operation, and obtaining cast iron evidence against him, the CPS suddenly decided to drop all charges.

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"No, that is a matter of fact."

Citation please.

"It will all be on the police and court records."

From what I gather, there was no court case.

"Allegedly’ only comes into it when you ask about why, after spending a lot of time and money on an undercover police operation, and obtaining cast iron evidence against him, the CPS suddenly decided to drop all charges."

Well, there was no CPS in 1971. It only came into being after the The Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.
You see what is happening here? Your "facts" end up full of holes.

Branson is probably no different than a lot of people who’ve made it to that level in business. It often, if not always involves a degree of ruthlessness. A book anout that "ruthlessness", especially one that appears to be full of holes, doesn’t strike me as particularly interesting.
OK, even if Edward Branson’s particular position as a barrister - or magistrate - could exert an influence on the prosecution, it still doesn’t mean it did. There’s a degree of assumption there.
I can’t really find anything you said that has solid ground.

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I always appreciate the obscure tanjents that these discussions lead to. I didn’t know any of this stuff about that bastard Branson. And wounded hussar, you were right to correct me and I apologise for my earlier, stupidly flippant remark (i.e., ‘I doubt that anyone has actually lost any money’), especially since stopping to give thought to all those people who will lose their jobs. Quite dumb of me really.

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weejie, unlike you, I don’t spend my whole life checking every last detail of everything anyone says with dictionary and wikipaedia. If I make small slips with details it doesn’t invalidate what I’m saying - if I say I was hit by a black car, and it turns out that the car was actually charcoal grey, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t hit by a car.

And in a lot of situations there can be no absolute proof, but it is still sensible to assume things to be true if sufficient weight of evidence suggests it.

For example, the inland revenue spent years trying to get to the bottom of Virgin’s network of companies in the Cayman Islands. They knew that the money Virgin brought into the UK from the Caymans to start new ventures had to be the same money that his existing companies sent out there, and thus liable for UK tax. They knew that because at that time the group had virtually no income sources outside the UK. But because of the way the group is set up, with money passing between a whole spider’s web of companies in the Caymans, they were never able to prove conclusively that it was the same money coming back into the country that had previously been sent out, so they were never able to prosecute. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening, it simply means they didn’t have conclusive proof.

Citations? I’ve given you the citation - ‘Richard Branson’ by Tom Bower ISBN-10: 1841153869. If you can’t be bothered to look it up, that’s your problem not mine. Details of the Virgin Records fraud are in the public domain, you’ve found some of them for yourself. A prosecution was brought, but it was settled out of court, so details of the original prosecution will be on the court record. The police and customs and excise will have records of their investigation and dawn raid. What’s not to believe?

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"weejie, unlike you, I don’t spend my whole life checking every last detail of everything anyone says with dictionary and wikipaedia."

Well, I’ve just checked that statement, and it’s full of holes. I’m not in the habit of checking things with Wikipedia. I didn’t in this thread - on the contrary, I’ve been pointing out the folly of using Wikipedia.

"if I say I was hit by a black car, and it turns out that the car was actually charcoal grey, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t hit by a car."

But if you say that a certain person "got off going to jail because his daddy was a high court judge", when that person’s daddy wasn’t a high court judge, and there is no indication that it was "daddy" who got "him off" ( it doesn’t follow that he would have gone to jail), what you were saying was merely opinion surrounded by untruths.

"For example, the inland revenue spent years trying to get to the bottom of Virgin’s network of companies in the Cayman Islands. " …..

That is not really an example of anything. It’s you reeling off some anecdotal spiel that isn’t relevant.

"Citations? I’ve given you the citation - ‘Richard Branson’ by Tom Bower ISBN-10: 1841153869. If you can’t be bothered to look it up, that’s your problem not mine. "

No, it’s your problem. You can’t distinguish opinion from fact. Unless your precious book actually gives the required citation, then it’s no better than a poor Wikipedia article.

" Details of the Virgin Records fraud are in the public domain, you’ve found some of them for yourself. "

If you are so sure of that, then you should actually cite the source of those "details". Oh yes, that "book".
You are the one claiming things are "fact". It’s up to you to present some evidence. That someone says so in a book isn’t sufficient evidence. Without that evidence, all you are saying is just allegation.

"A prosecution was brought, but it was settled out of court, so details of the original prosecution will be on the court record."

You obviously don’t have a clue how the system works. Do you actually know what an "out of court settlement" is? Can it be offered in a criminal case? It seems that your "book" is a little economical with "facts".

"The police and customs and excise will have records of their investigation and dawn raid."

Where do "Customs and Excise" come into this? Again, you are confusing purchase tax with VAT. This wasn’t a "smuggling" case. Surely, if there was any "dawn raid" involving any body other than the police, it would have been the Inland Revenue (they were separate from Customs & Excise back then - and were responsible for collection of purchase tax).

"What’s not to believe?"

Most of what you are saying - on the grounds that you have presented so many spurious "facts".

The reason I commented on this is the first place is because things can become so twisted through the likes of internet forums. This is a classic example.

Re: Another One Bites The Dust

I tell a lie. It seems that the collection of purchase tax would have been the responsibility of Customs & Excise back then. Nevertheless, it seems that there is a lot to be desired in the true statement of "fact" here.

Re: Another One Bites The Dust

OK, so I have now read Branson’s own account of the scam (in his autobiography). It’s quite different from the one presented here. Indeed it seems there were raids by customs officers (no police, C&E have more power than the police, they didn’t need them). The charge was under S 301 of the Customs & Excise Act 1952. It related to a manifest showing the exportation of 10,000 records. The first lot had actually been taken to France en route to Belgium, but the French authorities had refused to let him take them through France because of the lack of documentation - he took them back and realised he could then sell them. He then made three more trips, the last one didn’t even involve getting on the ferry. He was nabbed, not because of a "police undercover operation", but because Customs officers had marked the stock with an ‘E’ that would only show up with UV lamps.
The raids were not at "dawn" but at opening time (it was summer). There is nothing about "plain sleeves" or any stamp saying "not for resale in the UK - or words to that effect" (if the original sleeves would be a give away, why did C&E go to the trouble of marking them?) - what they did was to take all the marked records from the warehouse and put them in the Oxford Street shop to be sold. They were found there because the C&E had simultaneously raided that shop and the other one in Liverpool. They couldn’t have done that if they were in "plain sleeves". Most importantly, there was no court case (other than a bail hearing after a night in cells). The C&E agreed to a settlement (fine of 3 times value of unpaid revenues - 60 grand he says) which avoided prosecution (though there would likely be an entry at CRO).

Now, I’m sure Branson has been economic with the truth in places, but I can believe the gist of this, as he wouldn’t have put it in his autobiography for all to scrutinise.

As I have said before, it’s amazing how convoluted things can get on t’internet.

Perhaps those ‘plain sleeves’ were bootlegs or some such - if they were in shops other than Oxford Street or the Liverpool branch, then they would certainly have been there after this thing was all done and dusted.

Re: Another One Bites The Dust

I remember his shop in Sunderland when I was a lad — the records were in plain white paper sleeves, unmarked with anything visible. The reasons can only be guessed at. The word ‘virgin’ was used in those days only when followed by ‘snow’ or ‘Mary’, otherwise it was considered indelicate, to say the least. I can only assume that he chose the word for its shock value.

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Re: Another One Bites The Dust

"OK, so I have now read Branson’s own account of the scam (in his autobiography)."

Interesting, that’s the reference given for the bit about the scam on the Wiki article…

:-)

Re: Another One Bites The Dust

I’m not to sure what all of this has to to with HMV.

However, business people doing dodgy deals is probably "par for the course". Sadly, you don’t usually get too far in this world without being just a little bit ruthless and sailing a bit close to the wind. Of course, it’s then possible to reform and become "respectable" once you are established.

I actually liked the early days of "Virgin" when it was very similar, in many respects, to many other very good Independent record stores but things changed from around the late seventies onwards when they along with HMV moved into the "mega store". Although they still usually had a good musical selection, it was all about money and much more impersonal. Mind you, we did have a good "folk" section covering all areas including trad music in the Edinburgh branch as the chap who ran this was very much an enthusiast himself.

Re: Another One Bites The Dust

"Interesting, that’s the reference given for the bit about the scam on the Wiki article…"

In that respect, there was indeed a reference. However, if Wiki itself declares that the particular section needs citations, you know something is amiss. I wouldn’t regard Branson’s autobiography as adequate evidence per se. It’s just that it contradicts the claims made by Skreech. Where it contradicts, it doesn’t seem to do so out of any need "cover up", because there would be no need to invent it. Moreover, the entry in Wiki wasn’t an accurate re-telling of his account of the scam. It didn’t mention that he had wind of the raid, or that he shifted stock from his warehouse to the Oxford Street shop - or that by then he had another shop in Liverpool.
As I said, there will be some economics in the truth on Branson’s part, and the most reliable account would be an impartial one. If you are referring to someone’s autobiography as a source, it pays to say things like "according to Branson". The Wiki article appears to report it as "fact".

As I have said, Wiki articles with adequate references can be a good starting point. You need to follow up those references to give it any credence though. In this instance, it was lacking.

"I’m not to sure what all of this has to to with HMV."

Well I can link it via Branson’s autobiography. In it he claims that "many other large record shops" were involved in the same kind of scam. Perhaps HMV was one of them!

No, seriously, the matter of "plain sleeves" in Virgin stores cropped up earlier. Having read what appeared to be an explanation, but was obviously lacking in factual evidence, I pointed out some of the flaws. It seems that it was only some of them. The whole lot was rubbish.

Re: Another One Bites The Dust

"Perhaps HMV was one of them!"

They were already an established business going back several decades although the record shop side of things only took off in a major way(They had few stores) during the seventies.
That’s not to say they weren’t up to other manouvres though.

Re: Another One Bites The Dust

Indeed, they were well established. In fact, they were, at the time of the scamming, owned by EMI. So there’s another link. Branson bought those export records from EMI.

Anyway, back to the accuracy of that Wiki article. It says, in the same section (without reference) that:

"Earning enough money from his record store, Branson in 1972 launched the record label Virgin Records with Nik Powell and bought a country estate, in which he installed a recording studio"

According to Branson (and this is linked to the scam episode), he had already acquired the "country estate" at the time of the scam. He couldn’t use the manor house as security for the £30,000 bail, as it was mostly financed by a mortgage. His mammy put up her own home as security (it says nothing about re-mortgaging the property in the autobiography, which is the source Wiki cites for that information).

Not very accurate, I would say.

Re: Another One Bites The Dust

That’s a bit more of a "down market" company, I’d suggest?

I was never too keen on renting videos and DVDs as many of the early businesses were run by….yes…crooks and usually they lived in the local area. So, you didn’t really want your personal details or address to fall into the wrong hands.
Besides, it soon became possible to buy DVDs and videos really cheaply and, if you wait a few months, they aren’t really much more expensive than hiring them for a couple of nights. So, I reckon this type of service has had its day.
Public Libraries tend to be frequented less these days too but, at least, they are of more benefit to society in terms of education and culture.

Re: Another One Bites The Dust

You’re arguing with yourself now weejie. The stuff you’ve quoted from Branson’s autobiography correlates well enough with what I orriginally said to show that all the salient points are true. So I’m happy.

But now you are comparing two sources that you’ve come across in your overnight googling/reading session, and concluding that one (Branson) is true and the other (wiki) is false. Without actually having been there, how on earth do you know which to believe?

Re: Another One Bites The Dust

"You’re arguing with yourself now weejie. The stuff you’ve quoted from Branson’s autobiography correlates well enough with what I orriginally said to show that all the salient points are true. So I’m happy."

What way? Branson’s grandfather was the high court judge, not his father (you got that one wrong).
There was no VAT involved (you got that one wrong).
There was no prosecution (you got that one wrong).
There was no "changing them into plain sleeves", according to Branson (you got that one wrong).
According to Branson, there was only one instance where he didn’t get on the ferry, and that was his downfall, because they nabbed him after that one (you got that one wrong).
The only thing you might have got right is that he used a Transit van, though he doesn’t mention the make of van, so that would be a lucky guess.

You went on to say that his father was not a magistrate at the time of the incident - that’s not true. He became a magistrate on 18th May 1971. The last trip Branson made was in the last week of May 1971, and the thing came to a head in August of that year (you got that one wrong).
There was no police raid (you got that one wrong).
There was no decision by the CPS not to prosecute, as there was no CPS - the C&E agreed a repayment and fine (you got that one wrong).
You didn’t do too well there, Skreech.

"But now you are comparing two sources that you’ve come across in your overnight googling/reading session, and concluding that one (Branson) is true and the other (wiki) is false. Without actually having been there, how on earth do you know which to believe?

On the contrary. I downloaded Branson’s biography this morning, while waiting for my van to charge (bummer - it was -12c this morning). I pointed out the flaws in the Wiki article (especially one passage that used the very book I downloaded as a reference - if it misinterpreted the book, it was wrong). I also pointed out that other parts of the section did not tally with Branson’s own account, and there was no citation.
I didn’t say it was wrong, but it appears to be inaccurate. As for "without actually being there" neither was your hero Mr Bower. The one person who was there the whole time was Branson, so perhaps he is the most qualified. I related his own account.

You’ve yet again tripped yourself up big time. Better luck next time.