American roots and Americana music have a new home at BMG, which today (March 10) launched Renew Records, a new label that will focus on artists and special projects in the genre.
Based in Los Angeles, the label will be led by BMG executive vp David Hirshland, who has “his finger on the pulse” of the genre, said BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch.
“The launch of Renew Records serves to amplify BMG’s strong position in Americana and offers further opportunities for artists to expand their relationship with us,” said Masuch in a statement. “The fact it will be headed by David Hirshland is another big plus…[he] is one of the leading executives in the space, and I am delighted he will now apply his expertise to our fast-growing recorded business.”
Hirshland joined BMG following the company’s 2011 acquisition of publishing administrator Bug Music, where Hirshland served as president.
The launch of Renew Records is part of BMG’s strategy to “expand and diversify its repertoire base,” according to a press release. It follows the establishment of the classical, jazz, and electronic music label Modern Recordings last November.
BMG already represents a number of notable artists and songwriters in the American roots/Americana genre. These include Dave Alvin, Wilco, Calexico, Delta Spirit, Valerie June, Devendra Banhart, Larkin Poe, Nathaniel Rateliff, Amanda Shires and Hurray For The Riff Raff, as well as legacy artists such as Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, Woody Guthrie, Jim Croce, Hank Williams and Willie Dixon.
“Renew Records is a wonderful opportunity for BMG to provide further creative outlets for our great talent, as well as new discoveries,” added Hirshland. “BMG’s lineage to some of the most lauded American roots music artists and songwriters is unparalleled. From the historic to contemporary BMG is the destination for great artistry and we look forward to helping artists and songwriters achieve more.”
The Renew Records release schedule will commence on Record Store Day (April 18) with the all-star tribute album Wilcovered, a 19-track LP featuring covers of Wilco songs by artists including Billy Gibbons, Kurt Vile, Courtney Barnett, Sharon Van Etten and Parquet Courts. The album — select tracks from which will be released on digital platforms — was originally available only as a promotional CD that came bundled with copies of Uncut magazine in the U.K. last September.
Future releases on Renew will also include a new album from The Suitcase Junket; an Americana-inspired railroad compilation featuring both classic and original train songs from Dave Alvin, Rob Waller (of I See Hawks in LA), Carla Olson and more; and a never-before-released Johnny Cash live album recorded in 1968 at San Francisco’s Carousel Ballroom (now the Fillmore West).
With today’s launch, Renew joins BMG’s growing roster of U.S. record labels, which include the Nashville-based Broken Bow Records, Stoney Creek Records and Wheelhouse Records; New York pop label S-Curve Records; and the Los Angeles-based rock label Rise Records and hip-hop label RBC Records.