In an exclusive interview, the MuseBox VP of marketing Josh Eldridge tells Billboard that he has formed a new metal label, Gravedancer Records, in partnership with marketing company MuseBox. The label is launching with three acts on its roster and will be distributed worldwide by EMI.

The MuseBox "will act as support where needed, but initially it's going to be primarily me handling everything from A&R to product management, marketing, PR, etc.," says Eldridge, who will retain his position with the company.

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Gravedancer's debut acts are black metal outfit Chrome Waves (which features members previously associated with Gates of Slumber, Nachtmystium and the Atlas Moth), the reunited Byzantine (previously on Prosthetic Records) and U.K. doom metal band Conan. Although the latter band's new album, "Monnos," is being released in Europe on Burning World Records, it will arrive in the United States as a partnership between Roadburn Records and Gravedancer. The Roadburn and Burning World labels are under the umbrella of Roadburn Festival, the three-day music fest scheduled for April 12-14 in Tilburg, Holland.

Eldridge's background includes several years at long-running metal label Century Media (where he worked as a publicist and in A&R) and Regime Management, which handles acts like Everlast, Saigon and Unwritten Law.

Worldwide distribution will be through EMI. For now, product will be distributed physically and digitally in North America, and digitally in the rest of the world.

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"Gravedancer is going to be one of the premier metal labels," Mike Harris, executive VP/GM of EMI Label Services/Caroline Distribution, said in a statement. "Metal being a genre we excel at-we are currently the only [distributor who has] an entire month dedicated to the genre, 'March Is Metal Month,'-we are honored to have such a significant addition to our roster of labels."

Despite the expected sale of EMI's recorded-music division to Universal, Eldridge is confident in the company's abilities, having formed a relationship with EMI during his time at Century Media. "I'm confident in what they do and they're just amazing people overall, not to mention the initiatives they've kicked in for metal, like ["March Is Metal Month"]," he says. "They care about metal and they take amazing care of their artists and labels."

As for the inspiration behind starting a metal label at time when neither metal nor record labels are booming, he said, "Metal has always been a constant: Metal kids still go out and support the bands, they buy the records, they buy the T-shirts. It's a really loyal community and I'm happy to have been part of that community my whole life. Now I hope I can break some stuff that will get other kids involved as well."

Chrome Waves and Conan's albums are expected to arrive in July, while the new set by Byzantine-who enters the studio in May-is due in the fall. Chrome Waves are also putting together approximately 100 limited-edition vinyl packages of its album that will be sold through Chrome Waves' website.