Nettwerk Music Group is set to launch Nettrax, an electronic music sub-label, Billboard has learned. Nettrax’s first single, “We Are The Future” by Grammy-nominated producer Andy Caldwell with vocals by Angela McCluskey, releases today (listen below).
Capitalizing on the North American explosion of EDM, the imprint will be based out of Nettwerk’s Los Angeles offices, under the direction of Mark Jowett, VP International A&R/Publishing of Nettwerk Music Group, and Jared Barboza of Abbot Monroe Artist Management (Morgan Page, DJ Dan). Barboza is partnering with the label as a genre specialist, with a focus on A&R and front-end administration.
“For many years we deliberated about forming an imprint to release dance music,” Jowett explained. “It’s because of the timing of where dance music is in the industry at the moment that it felt like exactly the right time to do it.”
Designed as a singles-only label, Nettrax can sign an artist for a one-off release, with the option to upstream them to an album deal on Nettwerk Records later. The new label, according to Jowett, “can act kind of like an incubator where we can release singles very freely without much pressure. In some cases we’ll be just signing really great, promising singles, and in other cases we’ll be signing artists for a longer period of time.”
While the EDM specialty brand is new to Nettwerk, dance music itself is not. Even though they’re best known for their singer-songwriters, the label has been home to a variety of electronic artists, like Delerium, Ladytron, and Morgan Page.
In Nettrax, Nettwork Music Group will have a brand that can directly compete in the growing EDM market without fear of alienating its existing fans. “Nettwerk is a very diverse label,” says Jowett. “We’re proud of it, but it can create confusion for fans. We felt that you don’t want someone who’s an Old Crow Medicine Show fan buying an Andy Caldwell record and being really pissed off about it because it’s not at all bluegrass.”
The success of DJ and producer Morgan Page has been instrumental in prompting the creation of Nettrax, with Jowett calling the Grammy nominee “a tremendously positive and collaborative artist and just a great person who’s worked really hard.”
As Page’s manager, Barboza had a receptive audience when he suggested starting the imprint. “They really work in the spirit of partnership and there’s really something to the core of Nettwerk that I think is admirable,” Barboza says of his new partners. “They’ve always had a foot in the electronic world, but they’ve never really gone full throttle with it. I think the success we’ve had with Morgan has given them the confidence in me to take this step.”
Jowett says they’ll rely on the current Nettwerk staff and infrastructure to promote Nettrax artists using somewhat conventional methods. Citing specialty radio — in particular the BPM channel on Sirius/XM — touring, and international markets, Jowett sees Nettrax as a “facilitator” in helping his artists find greater exposure.
“Ultimately, if we can have a roster of five or six artists that are really meaningful in the EDM world and also crossover to some degree in America, in the UK, in Germany, in Australia, then that would be tremendous,” he said.
For Jowett, the freedom of a singles-only label is a big part of Nettrax’s appeal, saying it will allow them to be more bold in who it signs and what it releases: “It’s really refreshing to just think, ‘This is a fantastic single, let’s just go for it.’”