HMV to open concert venue at Toronto flagship store
The flagship HMV location in Toronto is set to reinvent itself with the announcement that it will convert its basement space into a concert venue. As the company struggles to remain relevant in the post-CD age, the move makes a whole lot of sense. HMV needs to get people into the store and can tap into a fair bit of local history in opening a live venue on Yonge Street. Over and above the fact that Yonge and Gould was once a nexus of record shops (most notably the former home to Sam the Record Man's flagship location), the stretch of Yonge between Gerrard and Dundas was once a breeding ground for the city's rock and roll scene.
The space will accommodate 140 people and go by the name HMV Underground, which is kind of fitting in its '90s-ness. It was, after all, about 20 years ago when the store was at its peak of popularity. One doubts that a crossover plan like this will restore the location to its former heights, but it sure won't hurt. Hosting live shows is a tried and tested way for bricks and mortar record shops to generate traffic and interest on the part of local music fans. In that sense, it's nothing new. But the size and sophistication of the venue is noteworthy. This isn't a little stage tucked into the corner as an afterthought.
The first show at the new venue will feature classical guitarist Michael Kolk on May 3, which will be followed by dates in affiliation with the Toronto Jazz Festival.