Update: Billboard has chimed in saying that 36 staffers will lose their jobs, 16 of which are U.S. based. Additionally, founder/CEO Cees Wessels is stepping down. It looks as though the European offices will remain opened, with a reduced staff. Original story follows…
Today is a sad day for those of us working in the music business. Word leaked over Twitter that Roadrunner Records was doing some reshuffling recently. The label was bought out by Warner Music Group in 2010, and whenever a label or a company is "bought out" or there is a merger, as much positive spin as is put on it, it ultimately results in job loss. Initially, there were some layoffs at Roadrunner, and today the other shoe has dropped. Roadrunner is supposedly closing their UK, Canadian and possibly German offices, at the behest of their parent company, WMG. There are rumors that some people in the U.S. offices have been let go as well. Roadrunner has been pretty quiet about the whole thing. Some Roadrunner artists are pissed, namely Trivium's Matt Heafy, who went on a mega-rant on Twitter:
“I wish I knew who or what to blame specifically, and chew off it’s heads – but Roadrunner records just fired some of their best employees,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s corporate greed or it’s due to the fact that no one puts value in physical art and that piracy created a domino effect, but our friends who are being tossed away so quickly by the label are now out of jobs. These people helped bands get where they are today. Wanna defend piracy? Do what you do for me and 10,000 others for free. Whatever your trade is – give me that for free or you’re a jerk. The real issue aside from whatever caused it is that in an industry NEEDING loyal people – higher-ups in their cushy desks wrote them off. Regardless of your stance, we all work for a living. I do what I do to pay RENT. If I wanted millions, I’d be in pop music. And the real fact of the matter is that I am pissed off at my GREEDY record label for canning my friends who helped build our band. My heard goes out to my friend who have been deliver this awful news today. You helped us get where we are. You’re in our thoughts. Truth is: I love Roadrunner. I'm upset with what happened to the people I care about. Roadrunner helped build metal that I love. And to address the other topic from my heat of battle. Technology is required in life. Technology in music reaches far beyond the physical.. In most places of the world, it's all bootlegged – there isn't officially a music market – people need to download music, or not even get it. The times are changing. Yes. Completely true. But the main thing is that we need to treat people like we want to be treated… Of course I'll be emotional when it has to do with people I love and care and respect for helping me. If I blew up on the wrong parties… Then I apologize. But. The main point is that people need to remember,Internet aside-we are dealing with human beings. I feel for my friends. It wasn't ROADRUNNER canning people. It's the "company" who "owns" it. Long live ROADRUNNER (the memory of something that once was great).”
Dez Fafara, lead singer of Devildriver who had a long history at Roadrunner posted this:
For you RR closing offices may be about your favorite BAND but in reality it's about the PEOPLE WHO MADE YOU AWARE OF YOUR FAVORITE BAND that worked at RR! From the Girl answering the phone to the ART department to the A&R who FOUND your favorite band in some small club and WORKED to sign them ! To the PRESS persons who work day and night to get your favorite BAND in Mags on websites etc so they became visible and had a Shot at making their dreams come true! So while you want to worry and it's alright to do so for YOUR FAVORITE RR BAND / you should stop and take a moment to think about all the jobs lost , families out of work and band that will be getting dropped. You should TAKE THE TIME TO THANK IN WRITING ALL THE HARD WORKING PEOPLE BEHIND THE SCENES THAT BELIEVED IN YOUR FAVORITE BAND BEFORE YOU EVEN HEARD THEIR NAMES ….
Other label heads are checking in with opinions. Metal Blade owner Brian Slagel tweeted the following:
Sad to see the closing of our friends at Roadrunner in Europe and the UK. What happened today to Roadrunner is one of the biggest reasons I never sold to a major. When we started 30 years ago we worked with Roadrunner. They distributed our stuff in Europe and we did their stuff in the USA. Sad day. We always had a great relationship with everyone at Roadrunner from Cees Wessels on down. Great label,sorry to see so many out of work. We always had a great relationship with everyone at Roadrunner from Cees Wessels on down. Great label,sorry to see so many out of work. The music business changes all the time. Please support the bands and labels you like. Thanks!
Earache owner, Digby "Dig" Pearson chimed in with the following:
Sad to see Roadrunner Uk/EU close, had many of the best bands and hardest working staffers there. Changed once Warners owned 100%. Some corporate twonk at Warners thinks promoting Machine Head & Opeth can be done just like Linkin Park & Green Day?
Losing a job is never fun. Our thoughts are with all the unemployed from Roadrunner.