EMI Music and Mute found Daniel Miller have reached an agreement over the future of the label, which will once again be independent - albeit with a label services deal with EMI, who will also take a minority stake.
The label specializing in alternative and electronic acts launched in 1978 in London. It signed acts including Depeche Mode, Moby, Goldfrapp, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Erasure and Richard Hawley. EMI took control of Mute in 2002 in a deal worth £23 million ($33 million at May 2002 exchange rates). Miller continued to lead the label globally.
Eight years on and Miller and the major have reached a preliminary agreement, whereby EMI will support Miller in the launch of a new independent label that will carry the Mute brand name.
Miller's new label will resemble the old one in many ways, as it is licensing the Mute trademark. EMI is also licensing part of the existing Mute back catalog to the label, including Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Grinderman, Yeasayer, Erasure, Andy Bell, Liars, Polly Scattergood and A Place To Bury Strangers.
Mute artists Depeche Mode, Goldfrapp, Richard Hawley, Kraftwerk and White Rabbits remain signed to and marketed worldwide by EMI Music. The remainder of the roster will move to the new label.
EMI will provide operational support in areas such as royalty administration and business affairs. The new label will also use EMI's Label Services unit for sales, distribution, synch and licensing and merchandising in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Ireland, and a network of independent record distributors elsewhere.
The label will be controlled by Miller, with EMI taking a minority equity interest in the company. Miller will also take an A&R consultancy role with EMI Music as part of the deal.
The new Mute label will be housed within Miller's existing music publishing and management business in West London, and, in the U.S., at a new location in New York.
In a statement, EMI said it is proposing that the majority of Mute's 18-strong staff in the U.K. and U.S.A. will move over from EMI to the new Miller-controlled company. A number of U.K.-based Mute marketing staff are expected to remain with EMI and continue to work with the EMI-signed Mute artists. EMI has begun a consultation process with all of its Mute employees.
"We're delighted to have reached this agreement with Daniel, who is a beacon for the artist community and one of the great label entrepreneurs," said David Kassler, EMI Music CEO, Europe and rest of world, in a statement. "This new partnership will allow him to build a new independent label whilst enabling us to continue to work with him in a productive and creative way."
Miller added: "I am pleased that as a result of this arrangement with EMI, Mute can prosper as a vibrant member of the independent sector, while retaining a strong and constructive link with EMI in the development of our catalog, brand and roster."