Virgin Music and Primary Wave Ink Global Deal; Gaither and Sun to Be First Releases (EXCLUSIVE)

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Primary Wave Music, the fast-rising independent music company, has entered into a worldwide distribution agreement with Virgin Music Label & Artist Services, an arm of Capitol Music Group in the U.S. The announcement was made by Virgin’s president, Jacqueline Saturn (pictured above, left), its general manager, Matt Sawin, and Gaither Group president Paul Sizelove (above, right).

The deal, which covers master recordings from within the Primary Wave Music catalog, spans all physical and digital distribution channels and will focus on releases from Primary Wave Music’s strategic partner the Gaither Group, which owns the labels Gaither Music, Green Hill and Emerald Wave, and from the legendary Sun Records catalog, which Primary Wave Music acquired in January.

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According to the announcement, the agreement is “designed to greatly expand the global reach and resources available to Primary Wave Music and the Gaither Group’s labels, and will enable those entities to draw upon Virgin’s extensive label services for commercial support, radio promotion and more.” The partnership also includes the opportunity for artists to partner with the Gaither platform for faith-based content, as Gaither Music will continue its long-standing relationship with Capitol Christian Music Group as part of the CMG family. Gaither struck a strategic partnership with Primary Wave Music in 2019; its Green Hill Label has grown through partnerships with artists that includes Jim Brickman, Olivia Newton-John and Celtic Thunder, as well as through its acquisition of the Rural Rhythm catalog. Green Hill will also be releasing new albums by Paul Anka and Frankie Valli later this year. Primary Wave Music’s acquisition of Sun Records — the home to classic recordings by Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and more — further expanded the company’s portfolio of master recordings. Primary Wave Music (publishing and/or label) is home to artists and companies including Bob Marley, Stevie Nicks, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Smokey Robinson, Whitney Houston, Burt Bacharach, Olivia Newton-John, Ray Charles and more.

According to Virgin’s Saturn and Sawin, “We are so excited to begin this relationship with Primary Wave Music and the Gaither Group as their new distribution partner. Both companies are so forward thinking and always looking to create new opportunities to build awareness and audiences for their artists and music.”

“We are very excited about Gaither Music Group’s new alliance with Virgin Music Label & Artist Services and Capitol Music Group,” said Paul Sizelove, president of Gaither Music Group. “After decades of building a firm foundation with Capitol Christian Music Group, Gaither Music and Green Hill Music have experienced exponential growth over the past few years. The rapid expansion of our family of labels, including our recent addition of Sun Records, makes this a great opportunity and ideal home for our artists and initiatives.”

Virgin Music Label & Artist Services, previously called Caroline, is a network of regional hubs positioned in the world’s leading music markets that delivers premium artist and label services. It launched in February, “Founded on the spirit and ethos of the Virgin brand, long synonymous with disruptive innovation and musical creativity,” according to the announcement. Indeed, Virgin, which was launched as a London record store by Richard Branson, is observing its 50 th anniversary this year; the company grew into an upstart indie label and became a global brand in just a few years. By the time it was sold to Thorn EMI in 1992 for a reported $1 billion, it had the Rolling Stones and Janet Jackson on its roster, among many other artists. Branson had also expanded into airlines, music retail and much more.

Saturn says, “Caroline was a scrappy indie company that we got to build and grow, but we kept reaching for a global brand, and the feeling of everyone connected by the name. So when the opportunity came for us to becoe Virgin Music, it was perfect because of what the brand means, and how Richard Branson built it from that same kind of scrappy, independent spirit. It’s hard to articulate how meaningful the rebrand was to the entrepreneurs we work with, and how much they align with Richard Branson and everything he’s done.”

The new company got off to a fast start, with initial launches in the U.S., Japan, U.K., Germany, France, Iberia and Latin America and rapidly expanded to Australia and New Zealand, the Nordics and Central Europe. The company has seen success in Latin America with the debut single from Mexican artists Gera MX and Christian Nodal, “Botella Tras Botella,” which debuted at No. 1 on Spotify’s Global song chart. Likewise, in Australia the company snared the global distribution rights to one of Australia’s most successful and independent hip-hop labels, Biordi Music.

Saturn was also quick to point to the support the company has received from Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge. “We’ve always had the most incedible support from Lucian,” she says. “He truly understands how important the independent community is and what a vibrant business it is — and how important it is for artists who are and want to remain independent to be supported by an incredible system. These artists aren’t looking to be on a frontline label: they’ve made that decision.”

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