HMV launches vinyl record label with first signing in over 20 years | HMV

HMV has signed its first artist in over 20 years as the retail chain announced the launch of a new label which will be on sale exclusively at its high street stores and online.

The retailer, which was rescued from administration by Canadian entrepreneur Doug Putman in 2019, is set to release a debut record under its new vinyl-only label 1921 Records on National Album Day next month.

The first signing is India Arkin, a singer-songwriter from Newcastle, and Putman said the label expects in the future to sign two or three artists a year linked to its “live and local” events, which have hosted internationally renowned artists such as Charli XCX. and Yungblud.

“Most of them will be strangers, although we will never refuse Ed [Sheeran],” he said.

“Streaming algorithms mean it’s hard for new artists to have their voices heard, so we’re giving them the option to get their albums to our stores, where music fans can experience them for themselves.”

HMV hasn’t been associated with new releases since the early 1990s, when the brand was used on a handful of recordings by former Smiths frontman Morrissey.

In 1967, the HMV label was transformed into a label exclusively dedicated to classical music and continued into the 1980s. Its owner EMI abandoned the HMV label in favor of “EMI Classics” and the label was separated from the group of retail in 1998. Industry insiders said that HMV had not signed its own artists since at least that time, although it did sell exclusive pressings. by other labels.

Putman said live music and exclusive releases were an important part of the revival of HMV, which this year turned a small profit and opened nine new stores. The chain currently has 115 outlets and expects that number to grow to nearly 120 by the end of the year, with potentially over 130 eventually.

He said he was “actively seeking” new business acquisitions in the UK after buying the Canadian arm of Toys R Us last year and launching toy retailer DKB in the UK.

Putman, who is visiting the UK this week for the first time since before the Covid-19 pandemic, said: “Part of this journey is meeting different people and seeing what is going on there. We would like to do more in the UK.

He said the group believed it could “add a lot of value” to retail businesses, but was unlikely to expand into completely new territories such as fashion. “It has to be something that we are passionate about,” he said.

Putman said he has no regrets buying HMV, despite falling on hard times during the pandemic when stores closed for several months. “I’m still thrilled to own it. It’s a fantastic brand and I really like what HMV does.

He said vinyl sales continued to grow more than 10% a year in the chain, while pop culture products also did well.

He added that HMV was part of the UK high street which was “something special”.

Putman called on the government to provide more support to retail businesses by addressing the issues of business tariffs, which result in higher taxes for those with chain stores than online specialists, saying there had been “enough discussions and we need a solution”.

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