That’s Concord Bicycle Music in the spotlight: Billboard exclusively reports that the indie label will handle distribution for R.E.M.’s bestselling Warner Bros. Records catalogue, spanning from 1988 to their 2011 dissolution.
Beginning in 2016, Concord will be the home for the band’s Green (1988), Out of Time (1991), Automatic for the People (1992), Monster(1994), New Adventures in Hi-Fi (1996), and Up (1998). Reveal (2001), Around the Sun (2004), Accelerate (2008) and Collapse Into Now (2011) have not been confirmed as part of the pact. The Athens, Georgia quartet moved to the Warner Bros. label after a stellar tenure on I.R.S. Records, re-signing in 1996 for a reported $80 million, one of the biggest record deals in history.
According to the report, Concord will issue deluxe editions of the records “with bonus material and exclusive packaging,” although no timetable has been set.
“The band and all at REMHQ [CQ] are very happy to be joining with Concord Bicycle Music for this next phase of curating and extending R.E.M.’s recorded legacy,” longtime manager Bertis Downs said in a statement. “The albums covered by this agreement are some of the band’s most successful, both artistically and commercially, and we know the people at Concord share our enthusiasm about this partnership. We leave the Warner Bros. family, a great label where we are certainly grateful for some of our career highlights. But moving forward, we knew this was the right time to change it up and Concord is the right home for this key part of R.E.M.’s catalog.”
The band had only recently begun mining their Warner-era catalogue for reissues. In 2013, the band expanded Green; a year later, they’d issue both of the band’s sets for MTV Unplugged in 1991 and 2001, remastered their I.R.S. and Warner catalogue at 24-bit “Mastered for iTunes,” compiling B-sides from both eras along the way, and issued a 6-DVD box set collecting their many appearances on MTV.
Ironically, Concord’s SVP of catalog management and development is Sig Sigworth, not only a notable name in reissues who’d worked with Rhino Home Video, the George Harrison estate and EMI Music for catalogue affairs before joining Concord, but a gentlemen who got his start in marketing and production for I.R.S. Records, when the band were the jewel in the label’s roster.
The R.E.M. deal is the latest in a series of impressive deals for Concord, including “a substantial investment” in Razor & Tie and acquisition of labels including country imprint Sugar Hill, jazz giant Vanguard and modern rock label Wind-up Records. The label also handles the catalogues of Stax Records and licenses Paul McCartney’s ongoing Archive Collection series.