(Note: This story was originally published May 10th based on comments included in an edited interview from Dutch radio station KINK. The station has since posted the full, unedited audio of the interview, and we’ve updated the article accordingly.)
Gang of Youths has signed a worldwide record deal with Warner Brothers Music.
That news came from an interview that the band did a few days ago with Dutch radio station KINK while in Amsterdam as the support act on Mumford & Sons’ current tour.
Early in the 15-minute conversation, host Julia Gieskes asked the band members for their thoughts on why Gang of Youths isn’t yet better known.
“We’ve never really had a label kind of outside of Australia,” Dave said. “We’ve been touring the UK and Europe relatively extensively, but I don’t really know. I think we just haven’t had the label thing until now.” (emphasis added)
The interview later returned to the same subject:
Julia: … you mentioned that you only really had a label in Australia, but I know that now you guys actually have signed here — or at least in this part of the world?
Dave: We’ve signed a whole world thing with Warner, yeah.
That’s the first confirmation of the worldwide scope of the band’s deal with Warner Brothers.
There’s been no official announcement of the deal, which we first reported in early April after a couple social media posts from Warner Brothers saying they’re “excited to welcome @gangofyouths to the @warnerbrosmusic gang.” To this date, Gang of Youths still isn’t listed on Warner UK’s artists page, nor on the more comprehensive Warner Brothers Records (.com) artists page.
What It Means
I’ll preface this by saying that I’m not a music industry expert, but I know enough to know that this is a Huge Deal. Signing a worldwide record deal — especially with a label the size of Warner Brothers — opens the door for the kind of promotion and distribution that would be impossible for Gang of Youths to get on its own.
In all likelihood*, WB will take responsibility for almost everything related to future Gang of Youths’ albums — studio time, manufacturing, packaging, promotion and marketing (music videos, etc.), distribution and so forth. If you live in Australia and have seen the trajectory of the band’s career there — how they finished 2018 by breaking records with a series of sold out shows at the Enmore Theater and The Forum, not to mention the radio exposure, awards, MTV Unplugged, etc. — behind all that, at least to some degree, is the support the band has had from Sony Music Australia.
(*I put an asterisk there because this paragraph is speculation; none of us knows the details of the contract.)
We don’t know how long the WB deal lasts — a contract usually requires the artist to release “X” amount of albums in a specific time frame. We don’t know how much money WB is paying the band in advance of these albums. We don’t know whether it’s a distribution deal or a full record deal — in the former, the band would retain ownership and copyright in its music. (In Australia, the band has a distribution deal with Sony Music, while Mosy Recordings, the band’s record label, owns the music. That’s why you see on the band’s albums language that says something like Copyright Mosy Recordings under exclusive license to Sony Music Australia.)
Regardless of all those unanswered questions, this is a Huge Deal for Gang of Youths and also great news for the band’s fans. It’s no wonder everyone was smiling and sipping champagne in those social media posts that the label shared in early April.
New Label & New Album
In that KINK radio interview, Julia Gieskes also asked if the WB record deal meant there’ll be new music soon.
Julia: Does that mean that there’s new music coming?
Dave: Probably! [laughs]
Julia: Do you guys have plans for that?
Dave: Yeah, of course. I haven’t made anything yet, but … I don’t know. It’s hard. Writing’s hard. I’m not the kind of person who’s able to just like … [makes whooshing sound] … make an album. I lack that set of skills. I honestly don’t think I’ve written a song in like two years. It’s a writer’s block thing. And when you tour so much, it just takes you out of the… [trails off].
Dave: I don’t have the gift set or the skill set to be able to sit down and write a great track. I’m not good enough in my craft to be able to do that. To be completely blunt, the only thing I can do is wait for things in life to affect me to the point where I can kind of form melodies and lyrics around them, and create crescendos around trauma. Or not even trauma, just life.
Julia: So we can’t say you’ve got something waiting for us on the shelf yet.
Dave: I have some things waiting for you all, but it hasn’t been recorded yet, to be completely frank. But like … if I’m being tightlipped, it’s because I don’t wanna say something that, in six months, I’m like … Why did I say that to those nice people at the Dutch radio station?
In the interview, they also talked about the meaning behind “What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out?,” which is being promoted as a single while Gang of Youths tours with Mumford & Sons.
You can listen to the conversation on KINK’s website — when you click that link, you’ll find two shorter clips first, those are the edited bits that were published first. And below that you’ll see an audio player with the full, 15-minute conversation. It’s a really good listen. The part where Dave confirms the worldwide record deal with Warner Brothers is about 9-10 minutes in.
Thanks to KINK and Julia Gieskes for publishing the full audio!
UPDATE, MAY 13: As Australia’s The Music Network is reporting, Gang of Youths will remain in its current distribution contract with Sony Music in Australia & New Zealand, and the Warner Brothers contract covers all other territories.