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

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theguardian.com

HMV has signed its first artist in more than 20 years as the retail chain announced the launch of a new record label that will be on sale exclusively in its high street and online stores.The retailer, which was rescued from administration by the Canadian entrepreneur Doug Putman in 2019, is set to release a first disc under its new 1921 Records vinyl-only label on National Album Day next month.The first signing is India Arkin, a singer-songwriter from Newcastle, and Putman said the label expected in future to sign two or three artists a year linked to its “live and local” events, which have hosted internationally known performers such as Charli XCX and Yungblud.“For the most part it will be unknowns, although we will never be turning down Ed [Sheeran],” he said.“Streaming algorithms mean it’s hard for new artists to get their voices heard, so we’re giving them the chance to get their albums in our stores, where music fans can discover them for themselves.”HMV has not been associated with new releases since the early 1990s, when the brand was used on a handful of recordings by the former Smiths frontman, Morrissey.In 1967 the HMV label was converted into one exclusively dedicated to classical music and continued into the 1980s.

Its owner EMI abandoned the HMV record label in favour of “EMI Classics” and the label was split off from the retail group in 1998.

Industry insiders said HMV had not signed its own artists since at least that time, although it has sold 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.

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