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Retail & Sales careers

Retail: Music, Books & Other Media

Retail vs. online media stores…

Everybody loves music, right? Lots of people love to read. Everyone likes watching movies at home, don’t they? And more and more people are beginning to dig computer games. So how do people satisfy their passion for these different media products?

They go out and spend their hard earned cash on presents for other people, or for themselves. The music, books, and other media area of the retail sector is really big business, so lots of career opportunities are up for grabs.

Admittedly, the rise of internet and the perpetual use of digital media paraphernalia mean that people are just downloading music onto their iPods, downloading books onto their Kindles, streaming movies on their laptops and playing games on their mobile phones.

However, the purists are still at large. Some people just don’t want to download music – they want to buy a CD or some vinyl, take it home, stick it on and read the inlay card. Lots of people love the feel and smell of a new book. Film buffs want to get their teeth into the special features on a DVD, and people want to buy a new computer game, hide away in their bedroom and get lost in a different world for hours on end.

Admittedly, lots of people are still buying actual CDs, DVDs, books and games, but they’re getting them online (not as quickly, but often a little bit cheaper). However, some people are genuinely obsessed with going to record stores, book shops, DVD shops and computer game outlets (I know I am!). They’re the kind of relaxing, magical place where you can get lost for hours. If you’re one of these people, then why not consider a career working in one of these retail establishments?

What’s it like working in a media store?

If you’ve watched the film High Fidelity (or read the book), you’re probably thinking that people who work in record stores are all lazy audiophiles, who are arrogant about their taste in music and don’t make much money for themselves or their store.

Similarly, if you’ve ever seen the hit sitcom Black Books, then you’ll probably think that the people who work in book stores hate their customers and treat their bookshops more like their own personal library. Alternatively, you might think that everyone who works in computer game stores are computer nerds that think they actually live inside the World of Warcraft.

Well, if you’re under that impression, then you’re very much mistaken. The people who work in these careers tend to be dynamic, engaging and passionate people who love their jobs.

Why? Because they are truly enthusiastic about the products they are selling. Working life in a shop like this can be immensely satisfying, fast paced and interesting. However, you’ve got to be the right kind of person and you have to be passionate about books, music, film, or computer games.

What roles make up a media store’s team?

Understandably, loads of shop floor staff and sales assistants are required to actively sell products over the counter, organise displays and shelves (often alphabetically) and help customers make the right choices.

People who work in these careers need to have a detailed knowledge in their chosen field, so that they can help to make recommendations to customers. This level of knowledge might not stop at just generally knowing lots about books, music, film or games. Indeed, staff might be assigned a certain section of the store and be expected to become an expert in that specific area, e.g. children’s literature, punk and metal music, world cinema, or Xbox games. These staff members have the potential to progress into supervisor and store manager positions.

Not everyone who works in this subsector always works actively on the shop floor. A great career choice in this area of retail is to be a buyer. These guys are in charge of deciding what music, books, DVDs, or games are going to be sold in the shops. They assess market trends, get to know their industry inside out, and always need to stay on the ball to make sure that the new releases are on the shelves when they come out.

What career opportunities are there for someone working in a media retail store?

Careers in this area are so much more than weekend and holiday jobs. Some major retail chains like HMV even offer graduate schemes. Many people use their career in music, books and other media retail as a stepping stone to getting into other careers, such as music A & R, publishing, or even computer game design.

Your career options are pretty varied when working in this retail subsector. For instance, you could work in an independent store, a second-hand store, or in a large chain like HMV, Waterstones or GAME.

However, other people have long fruitful careers within this area of retail and some even open their own store. Who knows? You could even be the next Mr Waterstones or Mrs HMV.