WMG to Continue Distributing Word’s Records in General Market; Word to Continue Distributing WMG’s Records in Christian Market; Warner/Chappell to Continue Administering Word’s Publishing Catalog
Nashville, TN – March 2, 2016 – Curb Records and Warner Music Group Corp. (WMG) today announced that Curb has acquired WMG’s stake in Word Entertainment, the Christian faith-based entertainment company based in Nashville. As a result, Word Entertainment has become a wholly owned division of Curb, expanding on the long partnership between Curb and WMG. Rod Riley, President and CEO of Word, will continue to run Word Entertainment. WMG will continue to distribute Word releases to the general market, and Word will continue to distribute WMG releases to the Christian market. Word’s publishing catalog will continue to be administered by Warner/Chappell.
Founded in 1951, Word Entertainment has grown into an artist services company active in recorded music, publishing, film, live events, and church resources. Word’s impressive roster of popular and influential artists and songwriters includes for KING & COUNTRY, the duo who won two Grammy awards in 2015, and Francesca Battistelli, who won Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song at this year’s Grammys.
Since 2002, Word Entertainment has been owned 80% by WMG and 20% by Curb. Under the terms of the transaction, Curb will purchase WMG’s share in Word’s recorded music, distribution, publishing, film, and live events divisions, as well as the company’s building in Nashville. The company’s printed music division remains jointly owned by WMG and Curb.
Curb Chairman and Word Chairman Mike Curb said “We are proud to continue our relationship with the Warner Music Group that started 50 years ago when my own musical group was signed by Warner Reprise and later signed by Word Records when it was still located in Waco, Texas and operated by its original founder Jarrell McCracken. We’ve had a long, successful relationship with Espo and Paul Robinson and more recently with Stephen Cooper, Cameron Strang, Matt Signore, Jeremy Sirota and Tom Marcotullio. For almost 15 years, I’ve had the opportunity to serve as Chairman of Word Entertainment as well as being a minority shareholder in the company. During that time I’ve had a chance to work with great leaders such as Jim Van Hook and that led to the merger of Word with Fervent Records, which was the label that was started by Rod and Susan Riley and it turned out to be the most important moment for the future of Word. Rod Riley had led the transformation of Word into this century by developing some of the greatest contemporary Christian artists of our time. We look forward to working with Rod for the future leadership as we bring together Word Entertainment, Fervent Records and Curb Records, which have all had a long history in contemporary Christian music.”
“It has been an honor for me to be part of the Word and Warner families for the past decade,” said Word Entertainment President & CEO Rod Riley, “and so I am excited that our companies will be continuing to work closely together. I am grateful to Espo for his support and collaboration as we worked to continue to transform Word both creatively and commercially. Mike Curb has simultaneously served as a wise and thoughtful mentor to me for more than a decade, and I am thrilled that Word and Curb will continue on our journey to take Christian music to new heights. Our mission remains constant – to continually serve our artists and songwriters while we forge new ground as one of the preeminent faith-based entertainment companies.”
“Mike Curb is a legend in our business, with over five decades of discovering outstanding talent and making great music,” said Warner Music Nashville President & CEO John Esposito. “Since Curb and WMG became partners in the ownership of Word 14 years ago, we have been at the forefront of the Christian Music movement. Rod is a tremendously talented, motivating leader, and I join him in saying how excited we are that we will remain partners. This move is a great opportunity for Word’s artists, songwriters, and employees, and the ongoing combination of our amazing teams ensures that Word’s future is very bright.”
About Word Entertainment
A leader in the Christian music community for over 60 years, Word Entertainment is a unique, comprehensive faith-based company comprised of multi-faceted artist service departments including recorded music, distribution, publishing, film, merchandising, church resources, and live events. Word represents some of the top names in music, including Meredith Andrews, Chris August, Francesca Battistelli, Big Daddy Weave, Blanca, Castro, Everfound, Family Force 5, for KING & COUNTRY, Group 1 Crew, Love & The Outcome, Dara Maclean, Sidewalk Prophets, Stars Go Dim, VERIDIA, We Are Messengers and Zealand Worship.
Curb Records recently celebrated its 50th year with over 300 #1 records. Curb Records has continued to play a major role in the contemporary Christian genre with artists such as Selah, OBB, Jonathan Thulin, Plumb and Natalie Grant, who received five Gospel Music Association Dove Awards as Female Vocalist of the Year. In addition to the recordings of his own group (the Mike Curb Congregation), Curb has been involved in the contemporary Christian music business since its inception. Curb signed early contemporary Christian artists such as Larry Norman, 2nd Chapter of Acts, DeGarmo and Key, The Boone Girls and Debby Boone, whose recording of “You Light Up My Life” is considered to be the first contemporary Christian hit single and the biggest record of the 1970s based on Billboard chart activity. Since that time Curb has had success with contemporary Christian artists such as Stryper, Whiteheart, Patty Cabrera, Jonathan Pierce, MIKESCHAIR, Michael English, Fernando Ortega, and MercyMe, whose recording of “I Can Only Imagine” became one of the biggest Christian cross-over hits of all time. In 2002 Mike became a partner and Chairman of Word Records, the oldest gospel recording company in America and the label that the Mike Curb Congregation had recorded for early in its career.
About Warner Music Group
With its broad roster of new stars and legendary artists, Warner Music Group is home to a collection of the best-known record labels in the music industry including Asylum, Atlantic, Big Beat, Canvasback, East West, Elektra, Erato, FFRR, Fueled by Ramen, Nonesuch, Parlophone, Reprise, Rhino, Roadrunner, Sire, Warner Bros., Warner Classics and Warner Music Nashville, as well as Warner/Chappell Music, one of the world’s leading music publishers, with a catalog of more than one million copyrights worldwide.