So How is Sunrise Records Doing in the Wake of HMV

When HMV announced that it was kaput, Doug Putnam, the owner of the nine-location-strong Sunrise Records, stepped in to take over the leases of about 100 HMV stores. So how are things going? Quite well, thank you.

Not all the old HMVs have been converted to Sunrise locations yet, but at least half of them are operational. Putnam wants to have 85 stores humming by December. FYI Music News checked in to see how business was:

“The numbers we are doing are off the chart, they are insane right now,” he shared in a phone interview yesterday.

“A lot of people just don’t realize the scope of demand still for CDs and vinyl.”


The customer base at Sunrise today is a diverse mix, but Putman says the big surprise is he sees a lot of millennials buying CDs and vinyl in his stores.

“The thinking was ‘Oh, Millennials don’t buy, they shop online, they don’t want physical’ but that’s not what we are seeing.

“And then there’s the regular CD buyer we’ve had forever. Our (inventory) content is skewed slightly more to male customers, but not by much. I’d say we skew 60/40 male to female.”


The typical Sunrise chain store today carries 10,000 titles with as high as 70 percent being catalogue (defined as any release 18 months and over) and deep catalogue (three years and over).

Add to this, about 5,000 vinyl titles are carried in the chain’s stores.

Sunrise also carries paraphernalia or, in the vernacular, cultural merchandise, which currently represents about 30 percent of the overall business.

“What we’ve done is focus on the core business, which is music,” Putman says. “We are making sure that the audio customer still has somewhere to go and what we are finding is the depth of catalogue we are stocking is paying off for us.

“We’ve been selling hundreds of copies of catalogue items in the first eight weeks of being open that HMV was missing the boat on. And there are thousands of titles like that. The extra depth of catalogue is doing exceptionally well for us.”

This is all fantastic news. Read the whole interview here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

5 thoughts on “So How is Sunrise Records Doing in the Wake of HMV

  • June 24, 2017 at 9:55 am

    As a youth advisor of kids 12-18 I’ve noticed that many of them would rather listen to classic rock rather than what’s being made today. Their parents or own musical tastes have led them there. They realize there’s more craft to it and substance and talent. You can’t push crap past them anymore. And the group of kids I led you’d expect they would’ve preferred rap or hip hop… Taking them up to camp I was surprised that they insisted I keep it on Q107 (sorry)

  • June 24, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    About 15 years ago when I worked for a chain music retailer we had some flexibility in the inventory we could order and found that when we stocked the back catalog that weren’t the “promo” titles (think AC/DC’s Flick of the Switch as opposed to Back in Black) we’d sell them. Every one stocked Back in Black as some sort of promo title but the less sought-after back catalog sold huge. Metal titles especially. We’d load up on everything from Black Sabbath to Metallica to In Flames and people ate it up. It meant they found something that the other guys didn’t carry and they didn’t have to special order.

  • June 24, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    Love Sunrise and I want to support them but their prices are way too high and more expensive than HMV. All vinyl is typically $32 and higher even the in downtown Toronto the same albums are $5 to $7 cheaper. Boxsets are at least $20 to $50 cheaper on amazon. The pink Floyd series that was recently released is selling for $90 at sunrise when you can find it most other places for $67. That’s insane.

    I have bought a few things at sunrise so far instead of giving my money to Walmart or amazon but long term they need to focus on selling more and having smaller margins or they will suffer the same fate as HMV. I don’t get why they are making the same mistakes. Filling up your store with vinyl is fine but their prices are nuts.

    Good luck to them as we need a proper music store in every mall

  • June 25, 2017 at 10:05 am
    Permalink is still live.

    Sunrise Records has a ???? section on their website that something is coming.

    Methinks the two are related & HMV Digital is going to be rebranded.

  • November 15, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    People still want cds and Vinyl is still rising in sales one sunrise employee told me not long ago as I was purchasing a CD in the store,
    sunrise is here to stay. Physical music will never die. If only sunrise records sold some cassette tapes in all their locations.


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