Six months after severing ties with Arista Records, producer/songwriter Dallas Austin has emerged as co-chief of Freeworld Entertainment, a merger of his Rowdy Records banner with Volcano Records. The new banner will incorporate artists from the two entities as well as branch out into music publishing and film projects. BMG will distribute the company’s product.

Volcano bowed when BMG exec veep Kevin Czinger ankled the conglom last year and, with backing from investment bankers, bought Zoo Entertainment, the precursor to Volcano. The company is home to recording artists Tool and Matthew Sweet, among others.

The deal, which had been expected (Daily Variety, May 27), gives both companies a leg up in the competitive marketplace thanks to Austin’s industry stature and Czinger’s business acumen and access to resources. The pair will act as co-presidents of Freeworld

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Wish fulfilled

Austin said the launch of Freeworld, which is now home to Lysette Titi, Size 14 and Derrick Dimitry, among others, fulfills his long-held desire to bow an independent label and build it from the ground up.

In addition to opening a music publishing outfit where the next wave of artists can be nurtured, Austin is also interested in producing films.

He is currently developing a pic about a marching band (he was a drummer in one) and is shopping film studios for the story.

Rowdy was previously a joint venture with Arista Records, but Austin dissolved the pact earlier this year. He was able to keep the name, but some of the label’s artists remained with Arista (Daily Variety, March 25).

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