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Earache Founder Comments On Roadrunner Firings

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Earache Records
Earache Records founder Digby Pearson has commented on the recent closure of Roadrunner Records offices around the world, and the firing of several of its employees.

“Thursday 26th April 2012 will go down as the day the global metal scene went into shock as Roadrunner Records closed its doors in the UK and EU after being absorbed into its parent company Warner Music Group,” writes Pearson.

“For over 30 years since Dutch native Cees Wessels founded RR as an Indie label in the early 80s, Roadrunner Records led the way and shaped the tastes of every metalhead across the globe (including myself),” he writes.

“Behind the scenes, the successful careers of the metal artists we all know and love was achieved mainly because of the unseen army of staffers (A&R, Marketing, Distribution, Promotion, Touring, Videos, Accounts etc) toiling away in various RR offices — many of whom dedicated their working lives to promoting metal — but were sadly let go yesterday as Warners Music Group closed the RR offices across Europe and UK,” he writes.

“Dozens of staffers were made instantly redundant, presumably as part of cost cutting/ consolidation measures. RR ceased to be a true Independent in 2006 as the founder sold the majority of his company to WMG, and by the end of 2010 Warners had completed the buy-out, to assume 100% ownership,” he writes.

“Consolidation was inevitable ever since WMG took sole control, because RR simply couldn’t decide its own destiny any more. The July 2011 $3.3 Billion purchase of WMG itself by the chemical/media group Access Industries added another top-level hierarchy and no doubt spurred this decision.

“I don’t think the bands contracts with Roadrunner will be affected, records will still be released, distro’d, and promoted as normal, a few of the very key staffers will probably remain. Though some bands like Slipknot and Trivium have taken the shake-up badly and went public to show their support for the staffers who have been left jobless by the office closures.

“Its a rare thing for bands to publicly appreciate the workers behind the scenes, gotta applaud Clown and Matt Heafy for taking such a stance.

“I’d speculate that the decision made by WMG execs to shutter the UK/EU offices and dramatically downsize the USA HQ has been prompted by concerns over falling profits at the group as a whole in tough trading conditions. Sales-wise, Roadrunner is massive, by far the biggest metal label in the world — dwarfing Earache and even the German powerhouses too — but what everyone overlooks is that metal is almost a niche genre when compared to the gargantuan sales of Pop/R&B and Electronic music which dominates the airwaves and TV channels.

“Metal acts sell concert tickets and pack out summer festivals, but traditionally sell zero singles for example. Even on albums, Metal lags behind Pop- Nickelback‘s Here And Now (RR/WMG) has sold 150,000 copies to date in the UK, which is decent, but pales in comparison with say, Bruno Mars‘ 1.5 million selling Doo Wops and Holligans (Elektra/WMG) — that number is more in the ballpark of what these Major labels are used to dealing with.”