20 December 2012

Namibia: Universal Sounds Closes Its Doors

The decline in sales of physical music albums, due to the illegal pirating of music has led to a number of music stores in Windhoek being forced to close their doors. One such shop is the popular Universal Sounds, which has been located in Post Street Mall since 1991.

Because First National Bank, who owned the space they were operating from, wanted to use the space in Post Street Mall, Universal Sounds then moved to Mutual Platz last year, but unfortunately this did not help business as the new location did not have as much traffic and such, they have been forced to close shop.

Owner of Universal Sounds, Clive Plaatjie who bought the business from his Swiss friend Arnold Deberti in 2003, said the main reason that they had to close down is because there has been a decrease in the number of CDs sold over the years.

"Our core business is selling local music, and since things have become digital, people are buying less albums. There was a time when people would buy many albums, especially over the festive season, but now people mostly copy CDs and some people even distribute these copied CDs," he said.

Plaatjie says that their main customers were jukebox owners and that their best years were between 2003 and 2008. "Back then when was a high demand for albums. Jukebox owners would come in and buy up to ten albums at a time, one CD for each jukebox, but after 2008 when jukeboxes also became digital they started buying only one CD and then copying them for their other jukeboxes."

Robert Shipanga who is a partner to Plaatjie says that another reason people stopped buying as many CDs is because they were forced to raise their prices. "Since artists were not selling as many albums as before, they pushed up their prices, which forced us to to sell them at a higher price."

Universal Sounds is one of four music shops that have closed down over the past year. Others include American Records, Mono Music and African Safari.

Plaatjie says that they are looking to reopen again early next year at a unspecified location. "We are working on something that will help us as well as the artists to make a profit from music sales. We are just trying to sort out some policy issues," he said.

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