Canadian Fave Signs To Rounder, Starts 'The Hip Club'
Canadian rock act the Tragically Hip has signed a new international recording deal with Cambridge, Mass.-based independent label Rounder Records.Canadian rock act the Tragically Hip has signed a new international recording deal with Cambridge, Mass.-based independent label Rounder Records. The band, which remains signed to longtime label Universal Canada in its homeland, will release "In Violet Light" on June 11 as its first album under the new agreement.
The album will come packaged with a unique opportunity for fans of the band: a card with a unique personal identification number (PIN) offering free membership into the newly established organization The Hip Club (THC). The international marketing effort will offer fans access to exclusive music and information via the forthcoming Web site thehipclub.com.
"The band and I have been discussing for a long time a way to reward the loyal and passionate fans, and at the same time forge even a stronger bond," band manager Jake Gold tells Billboard.com. "And we wanted to offer them something more as a reward for actually going out and buying the record, as opposed to just burning it or downloading from a Web site."
The Hip have faced that scenario in the past, notably when music from advance copies of its album, 2000's "Music @ Work" (released internationally by now defunct London/Sire) made its way onto the Internet. "The last record leaked seven, eight weeks in advance," Gold remembers, noting that the band will not allow promotional copies of the new album to be sent to press or radio outlets in an effort to thwart a reoccurrence.
"Some people think, 'Well, it's great promo,'" he continues. "I don't know if it is necessarily great promo for us. We have a unique situation because we have this huge fan base in Canada, and we have to protect the Canadian market" while seeking to expand the international audience.
That audience will be rewarded through The Hip Club. "The first thing they're going to get once they get the record is two tracks that were part of the 'In Violet Light' sessions," Gold explains. "We'll be constantly updating [the THC Web site]. We'll be offering live tracks from the band's upcoming tour, which starts the 26th of June in Philadelphia. At some point in the summer we'll be announcing more tour dates and we'll be offering first-in-line ticket opportunities, as well as discounts on merchandise, surprise shows just for club members, and exclusive merchandise that only has to do with the THC club."
The card will likely be included in future album releases as well. "Our plan is to make this a long term effort," Gold says. "This isn't a 30-day promo deal and then it stops. This is gonna be a long term commitment to the fans and to the people that support the band."
Universal Canada will release the album's first single, "It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken," on June 7, just four days before the release of "In Violet Light" on June 11. "The one thing we do know is that nothing bothers a Hip fan more than hearing something they can't buy," Gold says, noting that he's not worried about the short pre-release promotional plan hurting the album. "The band's made a record that I think is one of those records that people are gonna hear and go, 'holy s***.'"
The single will be supported by a video that will be shot in Toronto with storied film director John Landis ("Animal House," "Trading Places," Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video). Pressed for details, Gold would only say, "Who knows what John's going to come up with?"
As for the deal with Rounder, Gold says that after releasing albums internationally through several different labels over its 15-year career, "the band has found what it's always been looking for, a permanent home for the world outside of Canada."
"[Rounder has] a lot of integrity; they have a lot of stability," he says. "I think that they are the kind of people that the band is interested in working with. We've done a long-term deal [that has] no options; we've agreed to get into business together for a long time."