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Iconic American electronic music label Astralwerks announced this morning that it has inked a deal with headline-grabbing, Grammy-nominated DJ and producer Deadmau5 (ne Joel Zimmerman) through the artist’s own mau5trap imprint.
Previously, mau5trap had arranged a distribution deal through Capitol Records, a sister label to Astralwerks in UMG’s Capitol Music Group, while Deadmau5 was under contract with Ultra Records, with which he released four albums, including 2012’s Album Title Goes Here. Deadmau5’s first Astralwerks release will be the compilation We Are Friends, Volume 2, featuring several mau5trap artists as well as new music from Deadmau5 himself, and due Nov. 12.
Deadmau5 continues to be under the auspices of Virgin in the U.K. As Astralwerks general manager Glenn Mendlinger told Billboard, this deal is part of a global strategy for working efficiently with Zimmerman as an artist and a label manager.
“We’re all part of Universal now and are a global company, and we have plans to work on a global level,” Mendlinger explains. “Music now in this marketplace is very global, it’s very immediate, especially in [the EDM] sector. It’s very critical to be nimble, to be quick and to be able to react to things that are happening.”
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Mau5trap will continue to exist as an independently operated label, run by Zimmerman out of his Toronto offices. Mendlinger says this deal allows for the possibility of releasing mau5trap content through Astralwerks.
“It’s sort of an incubator label, if you will, within the Astralwerks wheelhouse,” says Mendlinger of mau5trap. “If something starts to bubble, we can upstream it. Conversely, if we can indentify something that we think makes great sense for Joel, then we can send stuff to him and have him percolate it on his side.”
While he has topped Billboard’s dance charts, held prominent residencies in Las Vegas (currently at Hakkasan) and regularly makes news either for his love life or simply for being outspoken on matters of music or celebrity, Deadmau5 has not reached the sales milestones of artists like David Guetta or Calvin Harris. Still, Mendlinger argues that the value of Deadmau5 as a recording artist is why Astralwerks signed the producer.
“It’s meaningful business,” Mendlinger says of Deadmau5’s sales. “The plan is to grow the base. Looking at what’s happening with EDM in this country, there’s huge opportunity for us to take Deadmau5 and his releases in 2014 to the next level.”
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Even before this morning’s announcement, Zimmerman caught the attention of gossip and music blogs alike over the weekend thanks to his choice words for fellow Canadian Justin Bieber, the latest in a string of rants from the producer. These attention-getting slices of personality seem to be part of what makes Zimmerman an appealing package for Astralwerks.
“Joel has an opinion,” says Mendlinger. “He has definitely been vocal about things in the past, and he’s entitled to his opinion.”
“He sits in a class by himself,” he continues. “He’s a pioneer in all aspects of what he does, from music and presentation to everything he’s done in the live space to what he does with technology. He’s a beacon for other artists.”
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