Iconic Label Reborn For 21st Century
John Janick & Mike Caren Named Co-Presidents
Cee-Lo, Justice, And Little Boots Join Roster
Elektra Records, one of the most iconic and revered labels in the history of modern music, is being relaunched for the 21st century. Heading the new Elektra are Co-Presidents Mike Caren and John Janick. Caren is Executive Vice President of A&R for Atlantic Records, while Janick is the founder and President of prominent indie label Fueled By Ramen.
Elektra Records will operate as a freestanding label within the Atlantic Records Group, which will provide resources and services in support of Elektra and its artists. The Atlantic Records Group is a Warner Music Group company.
Simultaneous with the launch of the new Elektra, the label has announced its first signings: Grammy winner and Gnarls Barkley partner Cee-Lo, acclaimed French electronic music duo Justice, and new UK dance sensation Little Boots. Elektra has also just released the soundtrack to the HBO Original Series “TRUE BLOOD,” featuring songs from a diverse spectrum of native Louisiana musicians.
“Elektra Records will mark its 60th Anniversary in 2010,” said Elektra Co-President John Janick, “and it feels like the perfect time to recapture and reignite the spirit which made the label a beacon of great music and eclectic artistry. Elektra has always been first and foremost about its artists, supporting their vision and giving them the freedom to do their best work. This is a sacred trust that Mike and I take very seriously, and that we will strive to uphold in the years ahead. We’d like to especially thank Jac Holzman for his wonderful support as we begin to build on the legacy of the amazing label he started six decades ago.”
“Our first signings already signal the diversity that has been and will continue to be Elektra’s trademark,” said Co-President Mike Caren. “The Elektra logo has always stood for quality and integrity, defining genres while crossing and transcending them. John and I are devoted to seeking out original and compelling artists from all walks of music, and giving them a place they can call home. We are thrilled to be partnering with our friends at Warner Music Group and Atlantic Records to reinvent a groundbreaking music culture for a new era.”
“When Elektra merged with Atlantic five years ago, we always knew the right moment would come to bring it back to life,” said Atlantic Chairman/CEO Craig Kallman and Chairman/COO Julie Greenwald. “The great news is that we have found the perfect people to do it. John and Mike are two of the most passionate, creative, forward-thinking young executives in our business. They both started their careers as teenagers and have gone on to champion some of the most exciting new music of the last decade. The independent, entrepreneurial spirit that long defined Elektra is in great hands, and we are truly thrilled to see the label take flight once again.”
Warner Music Group Senior Advisor to the Chairman Jac Holzman – who founded Elektra Records in 1950 and remained head of the label until 1973 – commented: “Iconic isn’t my word but it is how Elektra came to be recognized over the years. I wanted people to be able to trust Elektra, to feel each release had an artistic core of some merit, and that there was someone who stood behind it. Each new label head reverentially built on the accomplishments of his predecessor, zealously guarding Elektra’s magical reputation. In 2004, Elektra was allowed to go dormant until bright new talents could be found to re-energize and rebirth it as the ‘artists label’ for a new century. I’m fortunate to have yet another chance to watch Elektra bloom.”
Mike Caren began his career in the music industry while still in high school, working as a DJ. In 1994, at the age of 16, he started his own marketing company, Skool Rules Promotions, and founded his own label, Serious Entertainment. He joined Loud Records/RCA in promotions and then moved on to Ruthless Records as a National Marketing Manager. Caren also attended New York University’s Stern School of Business.
Caren joined Atlantic Records in 1995, at the age of 17, starting out as Manager of Rap Marketing for the company’s Big Beat label, founded by Craig Kallman (now Atlantic Chairman/CEO). The following year, he was promoted to Atlantic Director of A&R/Marketing, and he subsequently advanced through the ranks of the A&R Department, moving from Senior Director in 1998 to his appointment as Executive Vice President of A&R in 2007.
During his Atlantic tenure, Caren has been responsible for signing 14 artists that have earned gold and/or platinum records, including T.I., Flo Rida, Trey Songz, Trick Daddy, Twista, Sunshine Anderson, Plies, Juvenile, and others. An accomplished producer and songwriter in his own right, his recent credits include producing Flo Rida’s “Jump” (also the theme song from the Disney/Bruckheimer film, “G-Force”), Asher Roth’s “I Love College,” and songs for upcoming albums from Estelle, Cee-Lo, Cobra Starship, Wynter Gordon, and more. He contributed to the production of T.I.’s Grammy-winning “Swagga Like Us,” and co-wrote Flo Rida’s hit single, “Sugar.”
In association with Warner/Chappell Music, Caren established Artist Publishing Group. The venture started off 2009 with its second #1 single, Flo Rida’s “Right Round,” and recently placed songs with Madonna, Beyonce, Keyshia Cole, T.I., Sean Kingston, and others. APG has also placed songs in several films and television shows, including “Friday Night Lights,” “The Hangover,” and “The Ugly Truth,” while Caren’s music has been featured in such hit films as Monster-In-Law, The Prince & Me, Dr. Dolittle, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, and Any Given Sunday, as well as in such top-rated television series as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The O.C.,” and “Six Feet Under.”
Like Elektra founder Jac Holzman, John Janick launched his own independent label from his college dorm room – at the University of Florida in 1996. Kicking off with the now-highly-collectible Chinese take-out compilation, Fueled By Ramen spread the word in grassroots fashion – via hard-touring bands, mail order, and an active online and street presence. In 1998, FBR released an EP from Jimmy Eat World, which proved a breakthrough for both the label and the Arizona-based band. In 2003, the label released Fall Out Boy’s first full-length album, building a base for the group over a two-year period and laying the foundation for what would become a multi-platinum career.
Fueled By Ramen became a fully collaborative environment where bands participated in all aspects of their identity, from recording sessions to marketing and touring strategies. As a result, it evolved into more than just a record label, but a close-knit community where the lines between artists, label staff, and fans became truly blurred. Fueled By Ramen became a pioneer in what is known in the industry today as the “360 Deal.” Among the early adopters of this new model was Paramore, who have broken through to RIAA platinum, Grammy-nominated stature. In addition, Fueled By Ramen partnered with Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz to launch the Decaydance imprint, which has released RIAA platinum-certified artists Panic At The Disco and Gym Class Heroes, along with the likes of Cobra Starship.
In 2007, Janick and Fueled By Ramen moved to Manhattan, where the label’s innovative partnership with Atlantic Records has given them access to the resources of a major label while retaining the hands-on intimacy of an indie. With the launch of the new Elektra, Janick will retain his post as head of Fueled By Ramen, continuing to nurture the artists and the company he founded more than a decade ago. Earlier this year, Janick was named as one of Crain’s “Forty Under 40,” rising stars in the New York business community.
ELEKTRA RECORDS 1950-2004
In late 1950, Elektra Records was born in 19-year-old Jac Holzman’s dorm room at St. John’s College in Maryland. The label’s first release came in March 1951 with an album entitled “New Songs by John Gruen.” The jacket copy noted that Elektra “shall continue to offer disks of unusual and worthy musical fare,” a mission statement that came to define the label for decades to come. Through the 1950s, the label released an eclectic mix of traditional folk, ethnic music, blues, and some jazz – with a roster including such influential artists as Josh White, Sonny Terry, and Theodore Bikel. In 1960, Elektra released an unlikely million-selling set of successful “Sound Effects” records that put the label on sound financial footing.
In the 1960s, Elektra entered its “golden age,” signing such folk icons as Judy Collins, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, and Tim Buckley. Moving into electric blues with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the label made the transition into the rock era with such iconic bands as Love, The Doors, and the Stooges, while maintaining its eclecticism with artists ranging from the psychedelic folk of the Incredible String Band to the pop/rock of Bread. Meanwhile, in 1964, Elektra launched the Nonesuch budget classical label, followed three years later by the Nonesuch Explorer Series, pioneering what would become known as world music.
In 1970, Elektra and Nonesuch were acquired by Warner Communications (later Time Warner). In the early 1970s, Holzman’s signings included Carly Simon, Harry Chapin, and Queen. In 1973, Holzman left the company he had founded 23 years earlier, handing the reins to David Geffen, who merged Elektra with his Asylum label – whose roster in the first half of the ‘70s included such artists as Jackson Browne, the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, and Warren Zevon. The remainder of the decade saw the Elektra/Asylum roster grow to embrace country music with Eddie Rabbitt, punk with Television, new wave with the Cars, and R&B/jazz with Patrice Rushen.
In the early 1980s, the world of Elektra expand once again with the formation of the jazz subsidiary Elektra Musician under Bruce Lundvall, and the signing of such major artists as The Cure, Motley Crue, and X. Elektra’s next executive shift came with the arrival of Bob Krasnow, who led the company from 1983 to 1994, during which its reputation as the “artists label” was enhanced with the signings of 10,000 Maniacs, Anita Baker, Metallica, Natalie Cole, The Gipsy Kings, Sugarcubes (featuring Bjork), Tracy Chapman, Simply Red, Phish, Billy Bragg, Keith Sweat, Howard Jones, and the Pixies.
From 1994 to 2004, the Elektra Entertainment Group was headed by Sylvia Rhone, former head of Atlantic’s Atco/EastWest division, who became the first African American woman to become Chairman of a major label group. In addition to continuing to develop the label’s existing roster, among the artists who joined the Elektra stable during Rhone’s tenure were Missy Elliott, Gerald Levert, Staind, Busta Rhymes, Yolanda Adams, Jason Mraz, Third Eye Blind, and Jet. In 2004, with the new independence of Warner Music Group following its sale by Time Warner, Elektra was merged into the Atlantic Records Group.
Source: Atlantic Records Group