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Nettwerk Music Group
Nettwerk logo.png
Founded1984 (1984)
FounderTerry McBride, Mark Jowett, Ric Arboit, Dan Fraser
GenreAlternative rock, indie rock, electronica
Country of originCanada
LocationVancouver, B.C.
Los Angeles, California
New York, New York
London, U.K.
Hamburg, Germany

Nettwerk Music Group is the umbrella company for Nettwerk Records, Nettwerk Management, and Nettwerk One Publishing.[1]

Established in 1984, the Vancouver-based company was originally created by Nettwerk principals Terry McBride, Mark Jowett, Ric Arboit and Dan Fraser,[1] as a record label to distribute recordings by the band Moev, but the label expanded in Canada and internationally.[1] Initially specializing in electronic music genres such as alternative dance and industrial,[1] the label also became a powerful player in pop and rock in the late 1980s and 1990s, with label and management clients including Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Dido, and Barenaked Ladies.

Nettwerk has on its label, management and publishing rosters Perfume Genius, The Veils, fun., Passenger, Christina Perri, Guster, Family of the Year, Beta Radio, and Ólafur Arnalds.


Once out of college, CEO Terry McBride managed a small band called Moev, of whom his friend Mark Jowett (and eventual co-founder of Nettwerk) was a member. They'd spend time at his small apartment with friends such as the members of the electro-industrial band Skinny Puppy, and soon he and Jowett starting putting out their records, along with Moev's and The Grapes of Wrath.[2]:33

McBride had previously started a label, Noetix, and though it did not get off the ground, he and Jowett were willing to give the record business another try. The company officially opened its doors in 1985. Their first release was The Grapes of Wrath's self-titled EP followed by their full-length, September Bowl of Green. It piqued the attention of Capitol Records, and paved the way for a distribution deal for the band and Nettwerk as a label.[2]:50

At a show in Halifax, McBride met nineteen-year-old singer-songwriter named Sarah McLachlan[2]:65 – he'd been introduced to her music through Jowett, and tried to recruit her to front Moev. Her parents initially rejected the idea, saying she was too young,[2]:65 but by then she had her moved out of her parents home and rented an apartment down the street while in her first year of art school. McBride offered McLachlan a five-record deal, and she agreed, saying “Ok. Sure. Why not?"[2]:69

At this point, McBride and Jowett had moved Nettwerk into a new office, and McLachlan relocated to Vancouver to write, finishing her debut, Touch, in 1988. The first single, "Vox", was a hit, and led to her signing a worldwide deal with Arista Records (Nettwerk retained her for Canada). She followed up with Solace in 1991 and Fumbling Towards Ecstasy in 1993. Surfacing in 1997 contained two hit singles; "Building a Mystery" and "I Will Remember You", and winning two Grammy Awards.

In 1994, Nettwerk switched its distribution from Capitol–EMI to Sony Music, later Sony BMG.

Lilith Fair was initially McLachlan's idea;[2]:151 she was tired of the standard touring, and wanted to do something different, something inventive. Though McBride was resistant at first, he pushed forward, and they assembled a lineup that they then were told was "suicidal": Paula Cole, Aimee Mann, Patti Smith, Lisa Loeb and McLachlan to close.[2]:152 It was a success, and the next summer they launched a touring version – it grossed $16 million, a large portion of which was donated women's charities.[2]:151 Founded by McLachlan, McBride, Nettwerk co-owner Dan Fraser and New York talent agent Marty Diamond, Lilith Fair would become one of the most powerful and accomplished tours of all time.[3]

Nettwerk then signed Barenaked Ladies, at the time viewed as a novelty act.[4] After steady radio promotion, McBride booked the band for a show at City Hall Plaza in Boston to launch their album Stunt.[2]:140–143 The concert drew 80,000 fans, and the first single, "One Week", reached number one on the charts, also earning the band a Grammy nomination and a Juno Award for Best Pop Album. They have since gone on to sell over 10 million albums.

Nettwerk brought on Dido in 1999, as well as Sum 41. Avril Lavigne was sixteen when she walked into the Nettwerk offices; Arista had sent her to McBride, hoping to figure out what to make of her.[2]:165 Though Lavigne would release her records through Arista, she continued with Nettwerk for her management.[5]

In 2000, EMI decided against a North American release for the album of a new signing by their British sub-label Parlophone. This album, Parachutes by the band Coldplay, was picked up by Nettwerk for release in Canada and the United States.

Nettwerk embraced new digital formats.[6] McBride studied reports showing the sea change in fan preference, and realized that he'd rather cater to the growing MP3 culture rather than work against it. In 2005, Nettmusic became one of the first major music companies to sell MP3s free of DRM (digital rights management),[2]:213–215 and supported the consumer case in the battle against the Recording Industry Association of America. Nettwerk has offered to pay the legal fees of a teenager in Texas who is being sued for downloading songs.[7]

At the same time, Nettwerk continued to focus on other new, innovative and both artist-and-fan friendly models. McBride conceived of a concept he called "collapsed copyright", set to revolve around a new business model that empowered artists themselves and not just the corporations. The premise allowed artists to release music under their own label (therefore retaining the intellectual property), marketed and promoted through Nettwerk.[8]

On June 9, 2010, Nettwerk announced that for its distribution and marketing in the United States, it would depart from Sony Music and its catalogue would now be distributed by WMG's Alternative Distribution Alliance.[9] In 2013, Nettwerk raised $10.25 million in equity financing to sign artists and purchase catalogs.[10]

In July, 2016, Nettwerk sold its publishing catalog to KobaltInvestment Fund, an independent investment fund established in 2011.[11]

In September 2017 Nettwerk Records announced that The Ballroom Thieves joined the label roster.[12]


In 2008, Nettwerk founder Terry McBride revived a retired sub-label of Nettwerk called Nutone Records, with the objective of releasing devotional, chant and world music. He also launched a chain of wellness centers in Canada called YYoga.[13]

Nettwerk roster[edit]

Music roster[edit]

Management roster[edit]

Publishing roster[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Michael Barclay, Ian A.D. Jack and Jason Schneider, Have Not Been the Same: The Can-Rock Renaissance 1985-1995. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-55022-992-9.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ryan, Denise (2010). Nettwerk: 25 Years of Music We Love. John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd. ISBN 978-0-470-67844-2.
  3. ^ Freydkin, Donna. "Lilith Fair: Lovely, lively and long overdue". CNN. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  4. ^ Condran, Ed. "Barenaked Ladies avoids the novelty act label". Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  5. ^ Eliscu, Jenny (20 March 2003). "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong". Rolling Stone.
  6. ^ Deighton, John A; Kornfeld, Leona (March 2012). "Nettwerk: Digital Marketing in the Music Industry". Harvard Business School Case Studies. 510–055.
  7. ^ "Canadian Record Label Blasts RIAA Over File-Sharing Lawsuits". MTV.
  8. ^ Howe, Jeff. "No Suit Required". Wired.
  9. ^ "Warner signs distribution pact with Nettwerk". Los Angeles Times. 2010-06-09.
  10. ^ Peoples, Glenn. "Exclusive: Nettwerk Music Group Raises $10.25 Million". Billboard. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  11. ^ "Nettwerk sells 30-year-old publishing catalogue to Kobalt investment fund". Music Business Worldwide. 2016-07-24. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  12. ^ "The Ballroom Thieves Joins Nettwerk Records - Music Connection". Retrieved 2017-11-10.
  13. ^ Shaw, Gillian. "Music mogul finds big market for yoga". The Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on 2013-07-22. Retrieved 2013-03-25.
  14. ^ "Nettwerk Records". Retrieved Dec 17, 2014.
  15. ^ "Nettwerk Management". Retrieved Dec 17, 2014.
  16. ^ "Publishing Roster". Nettwerk. Retrieved 19 December 2014.

External links[edit]