HMV is producing, distributing and marketing the music of an unsigned band in return for a share of the revenues for the first time in its history.

HMV called the five-figure deal “ground-breaking” but denies it has ambitions to act as a fully fledged record label. However, it said if the partnership proves successful it might work with more bands in the future.

The move is a further step in HMV’s quest to diversify its revenue streams in a struggling music retail sector. This year it has also teamed with MAMA live venues, Orange mobile phones and
Curzon Cinemas.

As joint partner with the band The Boxer Rebellion, HMV will “leverage its growing presence in the ticketing and live music sectors” to promote the band, giving fans the chance to get tickets from its stores before they go on sale more widely.

The band’s album is stocked in stores and online, as well as at selected independents.

HMV head of music Rudy Osorio said the deal will drive footfall. He said: “We’ve not done anything like this before. If this initiative proves successful then it could create a template for future activity. But the band has to have a following.

“We have no plans to replicate what labels do. What we’re doing is retail. HMV’s fundamental strategy is to get their customers closer to the music, DVDs and games they love.”

The Boxer Rebellion has had mainstream success in the US, and played UK gigs this summer including Glastonbury festival.