The !K7 Label Group has announced a North American partnership with 30-year-old R&S/Apollo Records, a pivotal imprint in electronic music’s history.
“The aim of our label to create synergy with like-minded labels and we think R&S is a perfect fit,” Horst Weidenmueller, CEO of !K7 Records, tells Billboard.biz exclusively. “Similar to !K7, R&S championed some of the early architects of techno and electronic music, and has expanded its range to artist-driven projects that span the full breadth of electronic music. What's missing is a footprint in the U.S., and we think we're a perfect partner to help.”
Belgian stalwart R&S is known for supporting seminal electronic artists both past and present. The label’s releases have included techno creators Juan Atkins and Derrick May, “Energy Flash” producer Joey Beltram, evolving visionary James Blake, German trance originators Jam & Spoon, and maverick Aphex Twin.
Under the partnership, !K7’s New York-based team will provide R&S and Apollo with physical and digital distribution via !K7’s North American network, as well as U.S.-focused strategy, marketing, and label services.
While acknowledging “the time to come to the U.S. after 30 years is perfect,” R&S owner Renaat Vandepapeliere says that the deal is not directly related to America’s current love affair with dance. “I am very happy America is finally catching up. It will only open more ears and doors for the great variety in all styles of electronic music, or ‘EDM’ as Americans are calling it.”
While the label’s rich catalog will be made available in the U.S. via the deal, the partnership is primarily focused on new music, says Vandepapeliere: “[The catalog] is part of the R&S history, but nowadays R&S has grown more and more into an artist development label with a very diverse roster.” He points to young U.S.-based artist Tree as an immediate focus.
According to Weidenmueller, America is of utmost importance to !K7, and now R&S: Not only is it the company’s “biggest” market with “our highest turnover,” he says, “we also see the U.S. market as our future model for the rest of the world, as we're selling primarily to independent retailers, Amazon and digital.”
The first release under the partnership was electro-funk producer Space Dimension Controller's “Welcome To Mikrosector-50,” released digitally last week. The first physical release will be the debut album from ambient R&B band Vondelpark, “Seabed,” out in April.