Downtown Records has inked an exclusive distribution deal with Fontana and has also entered a strategic relationship with Interscope Records, Billboard has learned.
Under the agreement, Interscope will provide strategic marketing and promotion for select albums. Cold War Kids, Eagles of Death Metal, Kid Sister, Mos Def, Spank Rock, Amanda Blank, Carla Bruni, MSTRKRFT, Femi Kuti, Asa and all the acts signed to Downtown’s three distributed labels — Dim Mak Records, Fools Gold Records and Mercer Street Records — will be distributed by Fontana.
Downtown acts Gnarls Barkley and Kevin Michael will remain part of the label’s existing upstreaming alliance with Atlantic Records and will continue to be actively worked by Downtown and Atlantic. Santogold, Justice (Because/Downtown) and Brett Dennen (Dualtone/Downtown) will continue to be distributed by the Alternative Distribution Alliance.
Not affected by the deals is Downtown’s publishing arm, which owns or controls more than 3,000 titles recorded by acts including Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, “Hannah Montana” star Miley Cyrus and the cast of “High School Musical 2,” as well as writers/artists signed to Downtown such as Dennen, Cold War Kids, Spank Rock and Carla Bruni.
The first record to be released under the new agreement will be Cold War Kids’ “Loyalty to Loyalty,” which streets Sept. 23. Downtown co-founder/CEO Josh Deutsch says that albums from Eagles of Death Metal, Mos Def, Kid Sister and MSTRKRFT are all slated for fourth-quarter releases.
“Downtown has a huge release schedule, and we’re very excited to start working the records,” Universal Music Group Distribution (UMGD) CEO Jim Urie says. “I’ve admired Josh for a long time, and we wanted them onboard. They’re exactly the type of label we started Fontana to do business with.” Deutsch says that “Fontana has such enthusiasm for Downtown’s artists, and we have a common vision about how best to work our upcoming releases.”
A source close to the situation says that Fontana paid a $1.5 million advance for distribution, with Interscope throwing in another $1 million for its role, paid incrementally. Urie says the deal has a term of three years.