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Warner Music Acquires Musical Theater Indie First Night Records

Warner Music Group has acquired First Night Record, an independent record label for West End and Broadway musical theatre cast recordings.

The company will be overseen by WMG’s Arts Music Division, led by President Kevin Gore. First Night co-founder John Craig will join the Arts Music team under a multi-year consulting agreement to identify and record musical theatre productions in the U.K. The deal is the latest in a series of acquisitions and partnerships by Arts Music, joining the recently relaunched Sesame Street Records and imprints with Cloudco Entertainment and Build-A-Bear Workshop.

“First Night Records is not just a record company, it represents almost all of my working life,” says John Craig.  “I am pleased that the catalogue is going to WMG, who in the last few years have shown they want to be in the cast recording business.  It will be nice to see some of our iconic recordings given a new lease of life through WMG’s aggressive marketing. Kevin Gore is a real record man, someone who has come up through the ranks and embraced the new media and all its benefits.”

Sir Cameron Mackintosh adds: “John Craig was the only record producer to see the potential of the ‘Les Misérables’ score when it first opened at the Barbican Theatre in London 34 years ago. Every other label turned the show down, partly because, at the time, there was no guarantee the show would even transfer to the West End. The record he made, at considerable risk, became an instant classic and established First Night Records as a major player in recording cast albums. John and I became partners on all my subsequent shows and ‘Les Misérables,’ in many different recordings, went on to become one of the most successful and multi-recorded shows of all time. We are already working on three new projects together, details of which will be announced shortly.”

Kevin Gore, President of Arts Music, WMG concludes: “I’ve known John Craig for more than two decades, and I’ve long admired him personally, the business he’s built and the fantastic reputation he’s developed over his 35 years running First Night Records.”

First Night Records was founded by Craig and Tony Edwards in 1984 with their recording of “Singin’ in the Rain.” Since then, First Night has recorded more than 150 productions, from small shows to large symphonic versions of blockbuster musicals. Following the success of the Original London Cast Recording of “Les Misérables,” First Night has recorded every show that Mackintosh has produced in London, including “Follies,” “Martin Guerre,” “Mary Poppins,” “Miss Saigon,” “My Fair Lady,” “Oliver,” “The Witches of Eastwick” and more.

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