Warner sells Chrysalis Records back to Chris Wright and Blue Raincoat

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Warner’s process of divestments to the independent sector appears to be officially rolling.

Chrysalis Records, one of the most iconic UK label brands of all time, has been bought in a deal led by Blue Raincoat Music’s Jeremy Lascelles and Robin Millar CBE.

The agreement sees the co-founder and original owner of Chrysalis, Chris Wright CBE – a partner and financial backer of Blue Raincoat – reunited with the label.

Wright returns as Non Executive Chairman of Chrysalis 27 years after selling the company to EMI for around $100m plus debt.

The sale of Chrysalis Records by is almost certainly part of an agreed $200m+ divestment package of Warner-owned recorded music assets going to the independents.

The divestment deal, announced in February 2013, was inked by Warner and Merlin/IMPALA as a result of the major’s purchase of Parlophone Label Group (PLG).

The pledged assets, which have been bid on by indies over the past three years, are believed to comprise around a third of the value of Warner’s £487m ($765m) buyout of PLG.

Artists on the Chrysalis Records roster include The Specials, Sinead O’Connor, The Waterboys, Ten Years After, Debbie Harry, Fun Boy Three, Ultravox, Generation X, the Two Tone label and many more.

ChrisWright“This is an historic and emotional day for me as chrysalis is back in the hands of myself and my partners at blue raincoat.”

Chris Wright

However, catalogue signed by Chrysalis in the US, including records from Blondie and Billy Idol’s solo work, don’t appear to be included in the Blue Raincoat deal. These releases are understood to be owned by UMG as a result of its original EMI acquisition in 2012.

The new deal comes into effect on June 24th 2016.

Jeremy Lascelles, CEO Chrysalis Records said “This is a wonderful moment. Chrysalis Records is for the first time in many years, back in the hands of an independent. And I’m doubly delighted that we have got Chris on board as well. For him to be reunited with a company that he started nearly 50 years ago is pretty special.

“Chrysalis is an iconic brand with an incredible catalogue containing some of the great songs of its era – the likes of Ghost Town, Nothing Compares To U, The Whole of the Moon and Vienna, still sound as relevant today as they ever did.”

Chris Wright, Non Executive Chairman, Chrysalis Records said “For me this is an historic and emotional day as Chrysalis is back in the hands of myself and my partners at Blue Raincoat. We’ll run it as an independent, revitalising the catalogue for the digital age. We believe it can become a new home for many established artists to sit alongside the incredible acts we already have.”

Robin Millar, CCO, Chrysalis Records said “There are reasons why great artists sometimes get through and sometimes don’t. A great artist needs time, constant support and a strong team. That time and teamwork has been conspicuously absent in recent years.

“It’s no coincidence we don’t have enough artists that change the thinking of a generation today. We’re letting the air back into that room and re-igniting the genius that resides in the Chrysalis vaults which is a big part of that process”

Chrysalis was co-founded by Wright and Terry Ellis in a student basement flat in 1968.

Under its new incarnation, the label says it will look to sign new artists.

In April, Beggars Group quietly acquired a significant chunk of the Radiohead catalogue from Warner – but this was never confirmed as part of the official divestment process.

[Pictured: Robin Millar, Jeremy Lascelles, Chris Wright, Robert Devereux]Music Business Worldwide

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  • EP

    Jethro Tull built Chrysalis, but apparently in this article they’re chopped liver. Fun Boy Three?

  • barbara occhiogrosso

    Great to see Chrysalis as an indie again! (Chrysalis alumna circa 1980s : )

  • Rhonda Bedikian

    One of the best labels I ever worked for! Be happy to help in LA again!