Another week, another world-famous catalogue sold by Warner Music as part of its post-Parlophone commitments.
For those that missed the memo: when Warner acquired Parlophone Label Group in 2013, it agreed to hand $200m+ in recorded music assets to the independent community as a condition of the buyout.
We’ve seen a flurry of these transactions of late: last week, Emmanuel De Buretel’s Because confirmed it had snapped up the majority of the London Records catalogue, while MBW recently broke the news that Concord had bought a range of recordings from Warner in a seven-figure deal.
Other recent Warner deals are believed to involve Domino – which we’re told has acquired the classic United Artists catalogue of The Buzzcocks and two Hot Chip albums – as well as Epitaph, which has picked up the early tranche of Tom Waits recordings.
Today, an addition to the party: we’ve learned that Fire Records is in the process of acquiring The Lemonheads’ classic Atlantic catalogue, which includes global breakthrough It’s A Shame About Ray (1992, pictured).
The Lemonheads released four albums on Atlantic, including Lovey (1990), Come On Feel The Lemonheads (1993) and Car Button Cloth (1996).
In addition, Fire has also purchased from Warner the first eight albums by UK blues rock band The Groundhogs, whose recordings have been praised by the likes of Mark E Smith and Pavement.
London-based Fire was founded by Johnny Waller and Clive Solomon in the mid-eighties and released early records from Pulp, Teenage Fanclub (via Paperhouse), Spacemen 3 and Blue Aeroplanes.
In the early 1990s, the label was the UK home to Neutral Milk Hotel, The Lemonheads, Built to Spill, Urge Overkill and others.
More recently, it has released albums by Guided By Voices, Giant Sand and Pere Ubu.
Other Warner divestments from the past 18 months include:
- Chrysalis Records being sold, with a catalogue including albums from The Specials, Sinead O’Connor, The Waterboys, Ten Years After, Debbie Harry and Fun Boy Three. As a result, Chrysalis has been re-formed as an indie by the founders of Blue Raincoat, including Jeremy Lascelles and Robin Millar, with Chris Wright;
- Newly-independent Chrysalis also dipped back into the Warner divestment process to pick up recordings by Athlete, Steve Harley, Suzi Quatro and Fun Lovin’ Criminals;
- Berlin-based digital distribution company Zebralution being acquired by an independent consortium which included the firm’s management team;
- Nettwerk buying the worldwide rights to the catalogues of three artists: Guster, The LeeVees and Airbourne;
In 2015, MBW discovered that over 140 businesses had bid on more than 11,000 assets as part of Warner’s divestment process – something which led the the major to note internally that “effectively we were 50 times oversubscribed”.Music Business WorldwideMusic Business Worldwide