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EMI To Distribute Welk's Vanguard And Sugar Hill

LONDON (Hypebot) – Welk Music Group, which includes labels Vanguard, Sugar Hill and Ranwood, has entered into an agreement for EMI to provide digital and physical sales and distribution services on a worldwide basis. In addition, EMI will provide licensing and synchronization services on a non-exclusive basis.

ANALYSIS: Welk has previously been one of the rare labels that was self-distributed. But at a time when "going indie" is the trend, it is interesting that a solid label group like Welk would pact with a major. The move could, however, reflect both the cost of maintaining a sales force despite shrinking physical sale industry wides and EMI's desire to put more product through its existing sales system.


Welk Music Group, which includes such prestigious record labels as Vanguard, Sugar Hill and Ranwood, and EMI Music, one of the world’s leading independent music companies, have entered into an agreement in which EMI will provide the Welk Music Group with digital and physical sales and distribution services on a worldwide basis. In addition, EMI will provide licensing and synchronization services on a non-exclusive basis to Welk’s acclaimed roster of artists.

Welk Music Group is home to two of the most revered and influential record labels of the last half-century, Vanguard Records and Sugar Hill Records. Vanguard Records has long held a reputation for eclectic, distinctive and groundbreaking recordings; a tradition that holds strong today. From such new and distinctive artists as Greg Laswell, Shawn Mullins, Mindy Smith whose debut “One Moment More” went on to sell over 300,000 copies, Nellie McKay and the legendary Levon Helm, to its rich and historical catalog of artists such as: Joan Baez, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Buddy Guy and Mississippi John Hurt, Vanguard continues to pursue its successful artistic vision.

Sugar Hill Records is the preeminent roots music label. From traditional bluegrass to legendary singer-songwriters and peerless instrumentalists such as Kasey Chambers, The Infamous Stringdusters, Sam Bush, to The Duhks, Gibson Brothers, Sarah Borges and Nickel Creek, the innovative trio who have a combined sales of over two million units with their first three albums, Sugar Hill continues to set the standard for American roots music.

Over the years, Welk’s group of owned and distributed labels feature an electic artist roster ranging from American music icons such as Dolly Parton, Rodney Crowell and George Jones; Adult Rock stalwarts Linda Ronstadt, Joan Osborne, Sinead O’Connor, Robert Cray and Blues Traveler, and emerging artists such as Matt Nathanson, Indigenous, Carbon Leaf, The Alternate Routes, Pictures and Sound and distributed artists such as Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters, Taylor Hicks and Hootie and The Blowfish.

Kevin Welk, President of the Welk Music Group states: “EMI offers us unique, seamless, global reach, and allows us to tap into their strong relationship network with physical and digital partners around the world. Their bold moves to transform its business will serve our labels and our artists well as we work to extend their reach to new audiences on a variety of new music platforms.”

“We are honored to have Welk Music Group and its amazing roster of artists work with the EMI family,” said Ronn Werre, EMI Music President of Commercial Development. “EMI Music’s aim is to provide world class services to artists and to bring great music to fans. Kevin Welk and his team have built an illustrious catalog and active artist roster, and we are thrilled to offer EMI’s global capabilities to them. We look forward to working with the Welk Music family of labels and taking their artists to new levels of success.