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Nettwerk Records

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Title: Nettwerk Records  
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Nettwerk Records

Not to be confused with Network Records.
Founded 1984
Founder Terry McBride
Mark Jowett
Ric Arboit
Dan Fraser
Distributor(s) Alternative Distribution Alliance (U.S.)
Sony (Canada)
Various (outside U.S. / Canada)
Genre Alternative music, Electronic music, Singer-Songwriter, indie rock
Country of origin Canada
Location Vancouver, British Columbia,
Los Angeles, California
New York, New York
London, United Kingdom
Hamburg, Germany
Official website

Nettwerk Music Group is the umbrella company for Nettwerk Records, Nettwerk Management, Nettwerk Producer Management and Nettwerk One Publishing.[1]

Established in 1984, the Vancouver-based company was originally created by Nettwerk principals Terry McBride, Mark Jowett, Ric Arboit and Dan Fraser,[1] as a record label to distribute recordings by the band Moev, but the label quickly expanded in Canada and internationally, ultimately becoming one of the largest and most influential independent record labels in the world.[1] Initially specializing in electronic music genres such as alternative dance and industrial,[1] the label also became a powerful player in pop and rock in the late 1980s and 1990s.

From launching the careers of Sarah McLachlan, Skinny Puppy and Coldplay, to seeking out artists like fun., Old Crow Medicine Show, Morgan Page and Family of the Year, Ladytron, Passenger and Wanting Qu, Nettwerk Records has gone on to release over 400 albums that have amassed worldwide sales in excess of 100 million albums.[2]

Today, Nettwerk Music Group is a worldwide organization with offices in Vancouver, Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, London and Hamburg.


As a record company Nettwerk has released over 200 full-length albums and sold over 150 million albums in its 25-year history.[3]

Early Years: Skinny Puppy and the Grapes of Wrath

Nettwerk's origins can be traced back to co-founder Terry McBride's early days growing up in Canada, where he'd seek relief from long days working as a lifeguard by listening to a transistor radio and Beatles LP's on his record player,[4]:18–21 honing his skills as a natural music scout. Once out of college, McBride managed a small band called Moev, of whom his friend Mark Jowett (and eventual co-founder of Nettwerk) was a member. They'd spend time at his small apartment with friends such as the members of the pioneering electro-industrial band Skinny Puppy, and soon he and Jowett starting putting out their records, along with Moev's and The Grapes of Wrath, when not at work down the street at Odyssey Imports, a local music shop. They were motivated by the fact that there was a growing alternative music scene in Canada, but there was no label to cater to it.[4]:33

McBride had previously started a label, Noetix, and though it never quite got off the ground, he and Jowett were willing to give the record business another try. Jowett's wife, Gillian, came up with the name Nettwerk while in the car,[4]:35 and the company officially opened its doors in 1985. Their first release was The Grapes of Wrath's self-titled EP followed by their full-length, September Bowl of Green. It piqued the attention of Capitol Records, and not only paved the way for a distribution deal for the band but for Nettwerk as a label. Fueled by this and Skinny Puppy's success (and a little attention from Tipper Gore's negative campaigning),[4]:50 Nettwerk began to grow. McBride and Jowett hired Ric Arboit to manage the chaos that was the Skinny Puppy tour, landing them in larger and larger venues for their aggressive and gory stage show.[4]:50

It was at one of those shows back in Halifax, Canada where McBride ran into a nineteen year old singer-songwriter named Sarah McLachlan[4]:65 – he'd been introduced to her music through Jowett, and even tried to recruit her to front Moev. Her parents initially rejected the idea, saying she was too young[4]:65, but by then she had her moved out of her parents home and rented an apartment down the street while in her first year of art school. McBride offered McLachlan a five record deal on the spot, and she agreed, saying “Ok. Sure. Why not?"[4]:69

The Sarah McLachlan Years and the Launch of Lilith Fair

At this point, McBride and Jowett had moved Nettwerk into a new office, finally out of the small confines of an apartment. McLachlan relocated to Vancouver to write, finishing her debut, Touch, in 1988. The first single, "Vox", was sudden hit, and lead to her signing a worldwide deal with Arista Records and opening for The Grapes of Wrath (yet Nettwerk retained her for Canada). McBride was a tireless manager and career advisor to McLachlan, advising her from the early stages to always maintain her artistic integrity and sense of individuality.[4]:98–101 She followed up with Solace in 1991 and Fumbling Towards Ecstasy in 1993. It was with 1997’s Surfacing that McLachlan really catapulted, with the two hit singles "Building a Mystery" and "I Will Remember You", also going on to win her two Grammy Awards.

Lilith Fair was initially McLachlan’s idea;[4]:151 she was tired of the standard touring, and wanted to do something different, something inventive. Though McBride was resistant at first, he pushed forward, and they assembled a lineup that they then were told was "suicidal": Paula Cole, Aimee Mann, Patti Smith, Lisa Loeb and McLachlan to close.[4]:152 It was a success, and the next summer they launched a touring version – it grossed $16 million, a large portion of which was donated women’s charities.[4]:151 Founded by McLachlan, McBride, Nettwerk co-owner Dan Fraser and New York talent agent Marty Diamond, Lilith Fair would become one of the most powerful and accomplished tours of all time.[5]

Rising Acts: Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies, Coldplay and the rise of Nettwerk’s Management Arm

The Lilith Fair momentum was a huge boost to Nettwerk, yet they still kept taking risks, signing Barenaked Ladies – who, at the time, were almost viewed as a novelty act.[6] McBride saw through it. After steady radio promotion, McBride booked the band for a show at City Hall Plaza in Boston to launch their album Stunt – it drew 80,000 fans.[4]:140–143 The first single, "One Week", skyrocketed to number one on the charts, also earning the band a Grammy nomination and a Juno Award for Best Pop Album. They have since gone on to sell over 10 million albums.

Nettwerk continued to branch out with new artists on both the label side and management division: they brought on Dido in 1999, as well as Sum 41, both of whom were immensely successful worldwide. Avril Lavigne was sixteen when she walked into the Nettwerk offices; Arista had sent her to McBride, hoping to figure out what to make of her extreme talent and youthful stubbornness.[4]:165 Though Lavigne would release her records through Arista, she continued with Nettwerk for her management, who embarked on many creative (and critically lauded) marketing campaigns which helped to launch her to major international stardom.[7]

It was around this time that the label entered into an agreement with EMI that allowed Nettwerk to pursue the company’s rejected material – one of which was a record called Parachutes by the band Coldplay. Nettwerk recognized the resonance in the songs immediately, and released the album in North America in 2000.

Pioneering the Digital Music Revolution and Collapsed Copyright

Unlike other major music companies at the time, Nettwerk didn’t shy away from an increasing trend towards digital formats – rather, it embraced it.[8] McBride studied reports showing the sea change in fan preference, and realized that he’d rather cater to the growing MP3 culture rather than work against it. In 2005, Nettmusic became one of the first major music companies to sell MP3’s of its catalogue free of DRM (digital rights management),[4]:213–215 and soon supported the consumer case in the battle against the Recording Industry Association of America. Nettwerk has offered to pay the legal fees of a teenager in Texas who is being sued for downloading songs.[9]

At the same time, Nettwerk continued to focus on other new, innovative and both artist-and-fan friendly models. McBride conceived of a concept he called "collapsed copyright", set to revolve around a new business model that empowered artists themselves and not just the corporations. The premise allowed artists to release music under their own label (therefore retaining the intellectual property), marketed and promoted through Nettwerk.[10]

Anniversary and Present

On June 9, 2010, Nettwerk announced that for its distribution and marketing in the United States, it would depart from Sony Music and its catalogue would now be distributed by WMG's Alternative Distribution Alliance.[11] In 2010 Nettwerk celebrated 25 years in music with the release of the book, Nettwerk: 25 Years of Music We Love.[12]

In 2013, management and former label client fun. received six nominations from the 55th Annual Grammy Awards for their sophomore album Some Nights, and won two awards: Best New Artist and Song of the Year.[13]

Internationally, Chinese-born and Vancouver-based singer/songwriter Wanting Qu (who is also a Nettwerk Label and Publishing artist) released her debut album Everything In The World. The album has gone triple platinum in China and Hong Kong and platinum in Malaysia and Taiwan. Wanting was also nominated for 10 Chinese Music Chart Awards, including Best New Artist, Album of the Year and Singer/Songwriter of the Year.

LA-based band Family of the Year, who sits on Nettwerk’s management and label rosters, reached national acclaim in 2012. Their track "Hero" went Top 5 on the Billboard Triple A Chart,[14] leading Billboard Magazine to highlight them in their “Bubbling Under” weekly feature.[15]

Label artist Passenger released All The Little Lights in the fall of 2012, and the album has remained on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart since its release.[16] The video for lead single “Let Her Go” reached #1 in eight countries. In the UK, iTunes named All The Little Lights the Best Singer/Songwriter Album of 2012.[17] Passenger’s fan-base grew after extensive tour dates with Ed Sheeran in the U.S. and Europe.

Morgan Page's single "Body Work," a collaboration with Tegan and Sara, achieved Gold certification in Canada, while catalogue artist Old Crow Medicine Show saw their single "Wagon Wheel" from debut album O.C.M.S. achieve digital gold status in the U.S.[18]

In 2013, Nettwerk added multiple new clients to its label roster, including BOY, Savoir Adore, The Paper Kites and The Pack A. D. The company, now known as Nettwerk Music Group (NMG), operates with six offices: Vancouver, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, London and Hamburg.


In 2008, motivated by a newfound passion in yoga, Nettwerk founder Terry McBride decided to revive a long retired sub-label of Nettwerk called Nutone Records, with the objective of releasing devotional, chant and world music. He also launched a chain of wellness centers in Canada called YYoga.[19]

Nettwerk Music Group Artists

Main article: List of Current Nettwerk Music Group Label Artists
Main article: List of Past Nettwerk Music Group Label Artists
Main article: List of Nettwerk Music Group Management Artists
Main article: List of Nettwerk Music Group Managed Producers

Nettwerk Music Group is home to a variety of artists under its label, management, and producer management arms. Among the many artists and producers calling Nettwerk home are BT, Datarock, Great Lake Swimmers, Ladytron, Sarah McLachlan, Old Crow Medicine Show, fun., Guster, Chris Lord-Alge, and more.

See also


External links

  • Nettwerk

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