Warner Music International has forged a deal with Rick Rubin's American Recordings imprint which binds the companies on a worldwide basis.

Warner Music International has forged a deal with Rick Rubin's American Recordings imprint which binds the companies on a worldwide basis.

Through the agreement, unveiled today (Aug. 8), WMI will either distribute or otherwise administer the rights to recordings from such artists as Johnny Cash, the Black Crowes and Slayer. Until now, Universal Music carried those titles internationally.

Cash's Grammy award-winning records "American Recordings," "Unchained" and "Solitary Man," plus his "VH1 Storytellers" collaboration with Willie Nelson are among the albums to be distributed.

In North America, Warner Bros. Records already handles distribution for American via a five-year distribution agreement hammered out in 2005.

"We believe extending our relationship with American represents a unique opportunity to explore exciting new ways to package and deliver this music to a global audience across a variety of digital and physical platforms," comments John Reid, executive VP, marketing, WMI.

As part of the international relationship, WMI will re-package albums for physical release and make much of the American Recordings repertoire available in digital forms for the first time, through online and mobile products such as enhanced digital albums, download bundles, ringtones, videotones and wallpapers. A phased roll-out will kick on between now and Christmas.

"We have a pretty aggressive digital business, and that's the first place we think we add value," Reid tells Billboard.biz.

Rubin co-founded the iconic Def Jam label with Russell Simmons in the mid-'80s. The label landed a multi-platinum smash with the Beastie Boys' 1986 debut, "Licensed to Ill," for which Rubin had production duties.

Rubin and Simmons dissolved their partnership in 1988, after which Rubin founded Def American Records. The label dropped the "Def" in 1993.

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