Mikael Åkerfeldt Says OPETH Started Its Own Label Because Of A Bad Time With Roadrunner Records
Opeth's 2016 album Sorceress was the band's first released through its own label Moderbolaget Records, which funnily enough translates to Parent Company Records in English. The album was licensed through Nuclear Blast Records and Moderbolaget Records has a publishing deal with the UK company Kobalt, so it seems safe to assume that the band is in a pretty good place with the venture.
Though why drop off major labels this late in the game? Opeth released 11 studio albums and a handful of other releases through several major labels, but all of a sudden in 2016 the band decided to get out of the game. According to frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt in an interview with Overdrive, this all stemmed from a bad experience with Roadrunner Records. Åkerfeldt says he just wasn't interested in signing another contract with another major label after its contract expired with Roadrunner and wanted somewhere for everyone in Opeth to freely put out their own albums.
Yeah, I mean we’re not on any kind of Metallica levels or anything like that (laughing). To be honest, we didn’t really ever have anyone tell us what to do or pressure us with regards to the creative process of the music and if somebody ever tried to in the past or present, we would just tell them to "fuck off!"
This scene has been about the music more than anything else, with a fan-base that’s pretty much from our own age group, who thankfully, just let us get on with it and do our own thing.
It’s not like now is the time to start Moderbolaget Records to break free of the control aspect, it was more a natural progression for us. We don’t look at the label as being like Swan Song [Led Zeppelin] or Apple [The Beatles] yet! [laughing]
We had a bad experience during the last few years with Roadrunner and really just didn’t want to sign another record contract. When we finished up with Roadrunner, the thought of entering a deal with another label just didn’t sit well with me. I was thinking "Why should we sign a new contract? Will it be for something like 10 albums? That’s gonna bring me to my 60’s?" I’m 43 years old now and I just didn’t see the appeal of going down that road at this point in my life.
So we figured, "let’s just start our own label" and if we get back the rights to some of the older records from the label, then that would be fantastic as we can put them out on our own, as well as so our own side projects. Nobody can give us any problems if we want to guest on other albums or if we want to get other musicians to guest with us. It does allow for us to get way more creative freedom which we haven’t even really began to use as we have been so busy putting out Sorceress.
The possibilities are endless with the label. We could sign up our own bands, creating a totally unique roster of artists and become suit and tie guys (laughing). So, yeah, we just didn’t really see the point in signing with another label when we could have our own.
The record industry as it looks is not a good place right now anyway, so we ended up looking at several options and from this came a publishing deal with a company in the UK called Kobalt that has kind of like a 50/50 investment with 50/50 agreement on the returns. We were looking at a few offers like that for licensing deals to basically chuck the whole record contact thing down the drain, start the record label and in doing that came the licensing contract with Nuclear Blast.
Last we heard, a new Opeth album should probably surface in 2019.