The new label’s name derives from the year His Master’s Voice (HMV) opened its first store on Oxford Street, with music from its newly signed artists now set to be sold exclusively in the high street retailer’s stores, of which there are currently 115 across the country.
HMV has largely struggled since the dawn of streaming services like Spotify, with the number of UK stores having fallen from 292 to 131 between 2010 and 2017.
In early 2013, the company entered administration and HMV Group was liquidated the following year. In 2019, however, the company was bought by Doug Putman, owner of Canadian-based Sunrise Records, who hoped to turn the company’s fortunes around by focussing on vinyl amid the format’s resurgence.
Putman appears to be making a good go of reviving the company, with nine stores having opened since the start of the year and three more set to come before Christmas.
And now him and his team have identified a new way they hope to bring money into the coffers – whilst promoting new talent, of course.
1921 Records’ first signing, India Arkin, was selected after performing live in an HMV store in her hometown of Newcastle, as part of the HMV Live & Local programme. The label has big plans for Arkin and for more live performances in their stores as a whole.
Speaking of the new label and its first signing, Putman said: “India’s music is absolutely incredible and we’re thrilled to make her our first 1921 Records signing. She has such passion for her craft, and she’s a true musician who writes, plays instruments and performs.
“We’re really proud of our HMV Live & Local programme, which sees artists like India given the same platform as the international artists who come to our stores, like Charli XCX and Yungblud. India’s performances in Newcastle got rave reviews from our staff and led to her being signed today.”
Arkin, meanwhile, added: “I’m thrilled to be releasing my debut album with 1921 Records, and it’s almost unbelievable that gigs in the store in HMV Newcastle would lead to this. I can’t wait to see my record on the shelves and tour the country performing with my band.”
The news comes ahead of further plans for live music by the retailer, with more than 100 gigs set to take place in their stores across the country on National Album Day on 15 October.
HMV has history as a record label, with Putman stressing the new move is one that “hark[s] back to its roots”.
In 1931, the company joined with Columbia Gramophone Company to form Electric and Musical Industries – now more commonly known as EMI.
The HMV label was converted into one exclusively dedicated to classical music in 1967, however, which continued into the ‘80s. Eventually the label was split off from the retail group in 1998.
Arkin’s debut studio album ‘Home Truths’ will be released on October 15, as part of National Album Day. It’ll be available exclusively on vinyl in HMV stores across the UK and online, and you can pre-order here.