Warner Music Group has relaunched its Asylum Records label in the U.S., the company announced Tuesday (Oct. 31). The label’s new incarnation is headed by long-time WMG executive Kenny Weagly, who has been named president. In addition, Grammy-winning producer Dante Ross has been named senior vice president of A&R.
The label, which in recent years has operated as an imprint, already has an RIAA-certified platinum hit with “Water,” the track from its first signing, rapper Ugly God. Also on the label is dance-music artist Crankdat, Grammy-winning producer Mike Dean (Kanye West, Travis Scott, Jay-Z), New Orleans rapper Big Freedia, Baltimore rap duo Peso Da Mafia and New York rapper Shoneyin.
“Asylum was founded with artistic freedom as its guiding principle,” said Weagly, “and the new Asylum expands on that ideal by believing in and supporting our artists’ visions for their music, as well as when and how they want to release it. Our mantra is nimbleness and flexibility – the ability to tailor-make deals, from singles projects to multi-album careers – for original artists across a spectrum of genres.”
Asylum Records is currently an established label in the U.K., where it was relaunched in 2008 by Ben Cook (now president of Atlantic Records UK) and is home to Ed Sheeran, Charli XCX, Rudimental and Anne-Marie; however, the U.K. and U.S. operations will be separate entities. The U.S. label will see Weagly reporting to Eliah Seton, worldwide president of American Distribution Alliance (ADA), which is part of WMG’s services division, led by Stu Bergen, CEO of International and Global Commercial Services, WMG.
The label was founded in 1971 by then-artist managers David Geffen and Elliot Roberts and became a generator of the Southern California folk-rock sound, with Jackson Browne, the Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt and Judy Sill on the label. Later in the 1970s Geffen left the label and it was merged with Elektra Records. The label was revived in 2004 as an urban music operation, signing hip-hop artists such as Waka Flocka Flame, Cam’ron, Gucci Mane, Paul Wall, Mike Jones and Bun B.
Weagly, who has been with WMG since 2004, was most recently president of A&R and label services for ADA Worldwide. Ross, a veteran hip-hop A&R executive, has been VP of A&R at ADA since 2012. Over the years he has worked at Rush Management, Tommy Boy, Elektra and Warner Bros. Records.
Eliah Seton commented: “Kenny will be a strong leader for Asylum because he has a true independent’s approach to artist development, combined with deep experience within the WMG family. He knows how to marshal the best support network to help create breakthrough moments in music. Dante is a gifted champion of talent, whose A&R instincts and experience have led him to sign game-changing artists and deliver platinum hits.”
Warner Music Group CEO of Recorded Music Max Lousada said: “We’re committed to encouraging entrepreneurship and nurturing diverse musical cultures within the WMG family. Asylum is one of the most revered brands in the music industry, and by relaunching it in the U.S. as a label that’s all about musical independence and flexibility, we are opening another avenue for fresh, innovative artistry to thrive.”