The Marquee nightlife brand is teaming up with venerable Dutch imprint Black Hole Recordings to release a series of music compilations. It’s the first foray into music for the three-venue nightclub chain, which has its eye on international expansion.
“Our venues in New York, Las Vegas, and Sydney are known to be hubs of electronic dance music and nightlife, and if we can bring that to distribution channels outside our markets, that’s a big marketing tool,” Jason Strauss, Marquee co-founder and co-owner, told Billboard exclusively.
Set for release on March 18, "Marquee Volume 1" is an ample, double CD 32-track compilation. Strauss told Billboard that while he considered other domestic labels, “the distribution Black Hole presented felt like the right fit on an international level.” The label is known best for trance and progressive music, and launched in 1997 with a compilation from Tiesto.
Marquee is far from the first nightclub empire to get into the music game: Branded club comps have been de rigeur for decades in Europe. But with digital sales of compilations rebounding in the U.S., the model is finding fresh favor. In 2012, Ultra Music teamed up with Wynn Las Vegas to create a new record label, which has already released two compilations, mixed by DJs on Wynn’s exclusive residency roster.
But the “Marquee” series is meant to be different; its installments, including “Volume 1,” will not be credited to any one jock. Much like the popular Buddha Bar series, which launched in 1999 and is now on its 14th edition, the Marquee compilations are meant to be born from the brand itself, extending its credibility in the music space.
“A compilation is a compilation, but we had our marketing team, our promoters, our hosts, and our staff all weigh in on what songs they’d want to have on there,” says Strauss. “Having our brand as a ‘brand lab’ to find songs we thought intriguing and relevant is a very unique and differentiating factor to us.” Strauss credits Marquee Director of Special Operations and Music Sol Shafer as being “very instrumental in putting the compilation together.”
While it contains the production work of Marquee resident DJs, “Marquee Volume 1” is not credited to any one of them as the mixer. Nor does it necessarily reflect what one of their sets might be like at the full-tilt flagship Las Vegas location. Instead, it features unreleased tracks from bubbling-under artists like Joachim Garraud, EDX, and Glenn Morrison; even selections from more popular names like Hardwell and Arty have an underground, mature style.
The toned-down vibe ties in nicely with Marquee’s newly relaunched New York venue, which was renovated from a models-and-bottles hotspot to a more music-focused, dancefloor-oriented space.
“In the last three years, we've launched three Marquees, and we're looking to expand dramatically,” says Strauss, who names London, Asia, and Europe as specific points of interest. “We've had offers for Marquee hotels, living residences, deals in Dubai. We're looking to do massive expansion while the brand is doing great, relevant, and hot. Why not, right?”