Interscope Records, with parent company Universal Music Group (UMG), reached an exclusive distribution and label-services agreement with Downtown Records founders Josh Deutsch and Terence Lam. The announcement was made today by Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman/CEO John Janick and UMG Executive Vice President Michele Anthony.
The arrangement, which coincides with Downtown’s 10th anniversary, is structured to provide an exceptional level of service to the label’s artists. The Downtown Records catalog, which includes Cold War Kids, Mos Def and Major Lazer, among others, will move to Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) for distribution, bringing new creative opportunities to the label and its artists.
“This agreement is really unique in that it allows us to offer the bespoke experience and personal connection of an independent label with the reach, resources and relationships of the most entrepreneurial company in the business,” Deutsch said. “Depending on the needs of the artist, we have the freedom to integrate our operations with Interscope and UMe completely, not at all, or on an à la carte basis to create a more robust level of service for our artist partners.”
Deutsch continued, “I want to thank John, Michele and UMe President Bruce Resnikoff for creating a unique architecture for implementing our new venture.”
Janick said, “Over the past 10 years, Josh and Terence have continued to demonstrate that they have incredible insight with regard to signing and breaking talented artists that exist a little outside the mainstream…which makes what they’ve accomplished all the more impressive. It’s exciting to welcome Downtown to the family…I’m looking forward to working with them.”
Anthony added, “UMG continues to build on its leadership in providing artists and labels with the highest quality services from marketing and distribution, to merchandising, fan and consumer engagement, brand partnerships and live events. I’m thrilled to work closely with Josh and Terence on developing innovative creative and commercial opportunities for Downtown’s artists.”
“At UMe, we’re proud of our industry-leading track record of providing artists with new and innovative ways to interact with their fans, while introducing their music to new audiences and creating unique experiences that extend beyond recorded music,” Resnikoff said. “I’m looking forward to working with Josh and Terence to help build on Downtown’s already stellar reputation for creating opportunities for their artists.”
Downtown Records has built its reputation on breaking acts. Its first signing was Gnarls Barkley, which went on to ground-breaking, multi-platinum success. The label also shepherded Cold War Kids to its first #1 and advanced the fortunes of acts as diverse as Mos Def, Major Lazer, Chet Faker, Eagles Of Death Metal and Santigold.
Deutsch and Lam successfully created a number of businesses complementary to the label’s core asset of recorded music and that constantly redefined the relationship between music company and artist, whether through music publishing, licensing or online music-discovery platforms.
Lam said, “UMG is the gold standard of this approach and UMG Chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge is the ultimate entrepreneur, reshaping the business itself in the most progressive way. When we first met with the UMG team, we recognized kindred spirits. We saw this very focused, forward-looking group of people – an amazing combination of experience, energy and a mandate to innovate in this rapidly changing music climate.”
The first artist to benefit from Downtown’s UMG arrangement is St. Louis rapper Smino, whom Pitchfork said “has a melodic vocal style … stretching and warping his vocals to form a new vocabulary.” Additional projects for this year include recordings from emerging artists Goldroom (L.A. electronic musician Josh Legg), Zimbabwe-born, Australia-bred singer/rapper/instrumentalist Tkay Maidza, Argentine Brooklynite and avant-pop singer Tei Shi, and English Alt Rock/Zane Lowe faves The Hours, as well as new material from Chet Faker and Electric Guest.
Reflecting on the Downtown Records history, Deutsch says: “The highlight reel of our first 10 years is pretty spectacular, but we can’t wait to see what this next chapter brings.”