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HMV to open concert venue at Toronto flagship store

Posted by Derek Flack / April 30, 2014

HMV UndergroundThe 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.

Photo by Felix Demacota



James / April 30, 2014 at 12:40 pm
Level it. Put up a three story brick building with a tavern in it instead. Call it Le Coq D'or. Or make it a 5 pin bowling emporium called The Olympia.
Daryl / April 30, 2014 at 12:42 pm
140 people? It's the twitter of concert venues.
JLOWETO / April 30, 2014 at 12:43 pm
This is a great idea. It's sad to see iconic stores like HMV and SAM go out of business. Hopefully HMV will be investing in new local talent to go along with the concert venue.
Keely / April 30, 2014 at 12:52 pm
Maybe they can buy/inherit the Sam's sign and put it up inside the venue! :P
Alexander replying to a comment from JLOWETO / April 30, 2014 at 12:56 pm
Uh since when is HMV iconic? Did I miss the last 39 years of living in Toronto?

And, no, it isn't sad. Things change. Get over it. The CD is dead. This is progress.
HM-WHAT? / April 30, 2014 at 01:04 pm
HMV used to hold some big musicians for autograph signings, CD launches and live music. 140 people capacity does not seem like its big enough to draw the business of yester-year to the store like they need.

Will they be free concerts? Or do I need a ticket? Is it going to be open at night or will the workers in this city need to take a day off to see a concert at 2 in the afternoon?

HM-WHAT? / April 30, 2014 at 01:10 pm
I've been to a few concerts where you get a CD or DVD of the show you just watched as you walk out. NOW if they were to feature that I might go see a concert and get to leave with a CD DVD or USB of the concert that'd be pretty cool, and maybe they could offer the video or music on their own site.

Its pretty quick to transfer data these days that it would be doable.

For petes sake didn't Jack White just do this with Vinyl on record store day?
TwitterUser replying to a comment from Daryl / April 30, 2014 at 01:41 pm
"140 people? It's the twitter of concert venues."

LOL! This comment is both hilarious and genius! Unfortunately, the 140-limit on Twitter works. The 140-limit for HMV Underground will drive the business to the ground.
Grammar Slammer / April 30, 2014 at 01:50 pm
Could you have found an older photo for this article? The south half of HMV pictured here is now the Silver Snail/5 Guys burgers. And I think that Bell store is now a David's Tea Shop.
Zach / April 30, 2014 at 02:20 pm
I'm sure the existing popular bar and live music venue in Toronto called "the Underground" must be delighted with their choice of a name. That won't cause confusion at all.
Rick / April 30, 2014 at 03:16 pm
I remember going there for a Slayer signing, and Clutch performed a few tracks of the Elephants Riders CD. Awesome.
Tim replying to a comment from Hopeful / April 30, 2014 at 03:46 pm
AGREED. If people want to steal music they're gonna stay home and download it (its the new way). Why do they treat all customers that still buy CD's and DVD's like suspected thieves.

I can stay home download an album and burn it myself if I've going to be followed around the store by security.
lilj replying to a comment from Grammar Slammer / April 30, 2014 at 03:47 pm
The HMV in this picture isn't the one that you are referring to.
I live next to the one that you are referring to.
Anonymous / April 30, 2014 at 06:11 pm
Not too long ago, I used to work for an HMV in downtown Toronto, not saying which one, hated every minute of it, managers were not nice, very annoying. I had to leave because of their horrible management practices which includes intimidating employees with the prospect of getting fired along with everyone else after the seasonal hires are laid off one by one. Probably scrambling because of their crappy industry which is going down the tubes. I now only download from iTunes and am the happier for it :))))
Cooper replying to a comment from lilj / April 30, 2014 at 08:40 pm
Yes it is. The southern half has been Silver Snail upstairs and Five Guy's downstairs for almost two years now. The Bell store is a David's Teas, and has been for about the same length of time. The businesses north of the HMV do not exist and are currently a construction site and north across the street from that is a Ryerson construction project that is about 50% done. The album cover up on the HMV is from 2009, so it is a 5 year old photo.
This article is referring to the Dundas & Yonge location, which this is and Grammar Slammar was referring to the correct location. So... what the hell are you talking about?
Cooper replying to a comment from Cooper / April 30, 2014 at 10:29 pm
Ooops, Bell store isn't a David's tea, it's a Virgin mobile stand now.
Just a question?? / April 30, 2014 at 10:44 pm
OK so the first performance is a classical guitar player? I'm not knocking any kind of music but when I walk by HMV I see GreenDay T-shirts, Red Hot Chili Peppers.Do they even have a classical guitsar section anymore?
Stig Tripp / May 1, 2014 at 02:27 pm
This is cool, I'd definitely come by and maybe even try to get some gigs once my band has finally kicked off.
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avelino dini / February 7, 2015 at 11:06 am
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