Label sails from Atlantic distribution deal

The Atlantic Group and Mammoth Records have severed their joint venture agreement under which Atlantic distributed the Jay Faires-run label, which boasts Seven Mary Three, Juliana Hatfield and the Squirrel Nut Zippers.

“Our visions no longer overlapped,” Mammoth prexy Faires told Daily Variety. He said he inked the deal in 1992 at a time when Mammoth was “just hitting it.”

Seven Mary Three has been signed to Atlantic Records as a component of the split. The two labels will share own-ership of the platinum-selling band’s master recordings .

The amicable parting had been in the works for several months (Daily Variety, Jan. 27). The move followed Faires’ ankling his post as veep of A&R at Atlantic several months ago after “taking a look at the deal and realizing that it was restrictive.”

Faires said the label, riding high on the success of the Zippers, remains interested in hooking up with another ma-jor label, and has several companies in mind.

Mercury Records prexy Danny Goldberg is among the front-runners to land Mammoth. Faires declined to identify suitors.

“It’s obvious we can take a record to gold and beyond,” said Faires, who is trying aggressively to build a cash flow based on catalog product that can be put back into the label to finance artist development.

Faires would also like to branch out into strategic ventures such as filmmaking, and is kicking up the efforts of his street marketing company.

Mammoth recently financed “100 Proof,” which was screened at Sundance Film Festival last year.

The joint venture was launched in September 1992, when Atlantic, under Doug Morris and Goldberg, was aligning itself with respected independent labels which could enhance its profile in the then-thriving alternative music scene.

Atlantic has joined its sister labels Warner Bros and Reprise in cutting staffs and joint venture deals as part of a cost-cutting move.

The Mammoth deal mirrors a similar divestiture by Atlantic of Matador Records, home of Liz Phair and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. It also recently shelved its Celtic Heartbeat imprint, and absorbed its Tag Recordings imprint.

Faires founded Mammoth in 1988. Its 1996 gross billings were $15 million, and Faires said he expected the figure would triple in 1997.

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