Within days of learning about the death warrant out for Virgin's Times Square megastore -- described by the New York Times as "another step towards extinction for the sales of recorded music" -- it was heartening to see an innovative move from British based retailer HMV to find revenue outside of compact discs last week.
The books-to-CD retailer is expanding into the £1B live music market after agreeing to a joint venture with AIM-listed listed Mama Group that will give HMV a stake in some of the UK's best-known music venues, including the Hammersmith Apollo, the Edinburgh Picture House and Birmingham Institute.The tie-up means the retailer will profit from ticket and merchandise sales across all 12 venues, which, in total, attract over 2 million concert goers each year.
The deal also hands HMV branding rights for the Hammersmith venue, which will be renamed the HMV Apollo. Hammersmith is one of the most iconic London rock venues, having played host to almost every big name star on the way up as well as on the way down. Up until now, it's historically been associated with beer brands; it was previously the Carling Apollo, and some years ago, when I was a regular visitor, it was the Labbatt's Apollo.
Of the deal, HMV CEO Simon Fox told the UK's Music Week: "Music is very much part of our DNA, and by extending the HMV brand into the growing live music and entertainment market, our customers will be able as never before to access and experience music in all of its forms via HMV."
This is an innovative move that sees a retailer diversify in a hugely relevant way while also grabbing naming rights / branding opportunities at the same time. As we've pointed out recently, live sponsorship can reap big rewards in the UK.