Established metal labels Earache and Century Media Records are partnering in a three-year deal where Century Media will handle all of Earache's physical product distribution in the U.S.
The deal was finalized within the last week and takes effect Feb. 1. U.K.-based Earache – home to such bands as Entombed, Carcass, Bolt Thrower and Morbid Angel – has had digital distribution deals in place with iTunes and Spotify since October 2012.
Earache North American label manager Al Dawson says the label’s staff has been friends with Century Media owners Oliver Withoeft and Robert Kampf "for 22-something years. We talked to a bunch of different people about how we could move forward, and Century Media definitely came up with the most attractive offer for us as far as what their role would be."
Century Media president of North America Don Robertson wrote in an email to Billboard, “When Al Dawson approached me about licensing their catalog and future releases, I thought it was a complete no-brainer if we could make a sensible deal.”
Caroline Distribution previously handled Earache’s physical catalog through an agreement that expired in October. According to Robertson, Earache had a "straight distribution deal" with EMI and access to its label services, but with Century Media deal, “we are actually licensing the physical records and treating them as our own . . . Earache has their digital rights still, so it allows us to work in tandem on the setup and marketing of the releases and gives their artists extra push” by having its U.S.-based staff promote Earache artists alongside its own roster, which includes Lacuna Coil, In Flames and In This Moment.
Dawson says that although Earache was only seeking a physical distribution deal, none of the other indie distributors the label met with were interested in doing a deal strictly for physical product. “Ultimately, the future's going to be digital distribution to some degree,” Dawson says. “But Century Media, because they have a huge mail-order [business], they have their own warehousing as well as using warehousing from Sony. They . . . have the know-how and the muscle to make a physical-only deal profitable for themselves.”
The Earache-Century Media partnership comes in tandem with Earache celebrating its 25th anniversary with such events as the Scion A/V Metal showcase in Pamona, Calif., on Jan. 12 that featured the acts White Wizzard, Bonded by Blood, Vektor and Oceano.