Women in Music 2016

R.E.M. Taps Concord Bicycle to Handle Group's Warner Bros. Catalog: Exclusive

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Michael Stipe, Mike Mills and Peter Buck of R.E.M. in 2001.

Concord plans to release deluxe reissues of the classic Warner albums (from Green to Up), with bonus material, on its Concord imprint.

R.E.M. has entered into a multi-year, worldwide licensing agreement with Concord Bicycle Music for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee's catalog recorded from 1988 to 2011.

The deal covers the years R.E.M. recorded for Warner Bros. The group's pact with the Burbank-based label expires at the end of the year and the Concord deal begins in early 2016. Among the albums under the new agreement are Green, Out of Time, Automatic For the People, Monster, New Adventures in Hi-Fi, and Up. Worldwide sales for these albums tally in excess of 85 million albums, according to Concord.

"The band and all at REMHQ [CQ] are very happy to be joining with Concord Bicycle Music for this next phase of curating and extending R.E.M.'s recorded legacy," said longtime R.E.M. manager Bertis Downs in a statement. "The albums covered by this agreement are some of the band's most successful, both artistically and commercially, and we know the people at Concord share our enthusiasm about this partnership. We leave the Warner Bros. family, a great label where we are certainly grateful for some of our career highlights. But moving forward, we knew this was the right time to change it up and Concord is the right home for this key part of R.E.M.'s catalog."

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The Concord deal does not include R.E.M.'s earlier albums recorded on I.R.S., which now go through Universal Music Group. R.E.M., which formed in Athens, Ga., in 1980, disbanded in 2011. Should the band reform to make any new recordings, they are not covered under the current Concord Bicycle deal. 

While no timetable has been set, Concord Bicycle plans to release deluxe reissues of the albums with bonus material and exclusive packaging on its Concord imprint. 

The deal reunites the band with Sig Sigworth, Concord Bicycle's SVP of Catalog Management & Development, who was a driving force in bringing R.E.M.'s catalog to the company. His association with the band, who sources say wanted to be back with an independent label, extends to their I.R.S. days.

"After starting my career at I.R.S. Records and having the pleasure to work with R.E.M., it was disappointing when the band left to go to Warner Bros.," said Sigworth in a statement. "I've had the good fortune to consult with the band on their catalog for the past several years, but to now, all these years later, be able to bring the band and their incredible post-I.R.S. legacy to the Concord Bicycle Music family is very rewarding."

R.E.M. left I.R.S. Records in 1988 for Warner Bros., following the release of 1987's Document. The group, at the height of its popularity -- and at a time when record label coffers were much larger -- re-signed with Warner Bros. in 1996 for a reported $80 million, which was at that time the largest recording contract ever believed to be inked.

Terms of the deal with Concord Bicycle were not disclosed. The R.E.M. licensing arrangement is the latest in a number of acquisitions by Concord Bicycle this year, including making a "substantial investment" in Razor & Tie, and buying the Sugar Hill and Vanguard labels.