For 127 years, Gibson has shaped sound across generations and genres of music, becoming one of the most relevant, played, and loved guitar brands around the world. Gibson announced today it has formed a full-scale partnership with Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG)--the world’s second largest music publishing company--in China and Hong Kong. With a catalogue of over three million songs and offices in 46 countries worldwide, UMPG is part of the Universal Music Group, a subsidiary of Vivendi and Tencent.
Gibson will offer tailor-made support for artists, songwriters, and producers in China. First up for 2021 are the widely popular UMPG songwriting camps and artist events. Gibson has outfitted UMP China’s professional recording studios in Beijing and Shanghai and UMP China marketing and social media will work closely with Gibson in expanding social media reach via joint promotional social campaigns and artist content launches regionally and globally. UMPG and Gibson are committed to supporting charity campaigns and causes that serve the music community, from forthcoming opportunities with major content sites such as Tencent, Tik Tok and Bilibili, to promoting respective artists’ charitable efforts globally and regionally throughout Asia.
James "JC" Curleigh, President and CEO of Gibson Brands says:
“We are very excited about the emerging partnership between Gibson and UMPG China to further our support for musicians and for the broader music community in China. We have amazing momentum around the world, and now we have an incredible opportunity to take this momentum to another level with our new partnership in China.”
Joe Fang, Managing Director of UMPG China says:
“I’m excited to announce that UMPG China will be partnering with Gibson, the number one guitar brand in the world. With Gibson’s support, we will now have the chance to jointly promote emerging artists, support music education, and create causes for music education and charity events.”
Internationally esteemed heavy rock and metal record labels Napalm Records Handels GmbH and SPV GmbH are pleased to announce that they have joined forces, combining decades of renowned expertise and passion for music, their artists, and those who inspire it all - the fans. Napalm Records’ acquisition of SPV was completed at the end of November 2020 and represents a logical step in the Austrian company's global strategy.
Long-established company SPV, founded in 1984 by Manfred Schütz, along with its current subsidiary labels such as Steamhammer (featuring a roster including Sodom, Running Wild, Magnum, Axel Rudi Pell, Rage) and Long Branch Records (featuring artists such as Agent Fresco, The Intersphere, The Hirsch Effekt, Silvertomb, A Pale Horse Named Death), is now part of the Napalm Records family. The company’s current location in Hannover, Germany and the SPV team around Managing Director Frank Uhle will maintain their structure and, in regard to new distribution partners and labels, be expanded in the future.
Napalm Records CEO Markus Riedler states:
"The continuation and expansion of SPV GmbH as a distributor and the strengthening of the in-house labels are our major priorities. We will combine all forces, and link them with the power and worldwide network of Napalm Records in order to positively shape the future together. The employees of SPV are music-savvy, extremely experienced experts who are needed, now more than ever, to survive in these turbulent times on the international market. Together with Managing Director Frank Uhle and his team, we will seize the opportunities that currently present themselves and face the ever-growing challenges that the modern music market brings with it. In the ever-changing music landscape, we will continue to deliver our strong digital setup alongside our partners The Orchard, and also continue to provide strong physical product distribution for both our retail partners and the fans worldwide via our mail-order stores.
We have purposefully launched and implemented this major project under difficult conditions in 2020. This was a great team effort, for which I would like to thank everyone involved, in particular to the attorneys Prof. Pascal Charles Amann (Napalm Records) and Joris Brand (SPV). For Napalm Records, this acquisition is without a doubt an extraordinary, historic moment!”
SPV Managing Director Frank Uhle adds:
"With Napalm Records, we have found a synergistically perfect partner for our artists, bands and labels. The international setup and the additional reach and power of Napalm's marketing capabilities mean an important upgrade for SPV in tackling future tasks. I look forward to working with Markus Riedler and the affiliated teams to further strengthen and expand our position in the market."
More information on NAPALM RECORDS:
More information on SPV:
More information on STEAMHAMMER:
More information on LONG BRANCH RECORDS:
What happens when you cross Metal with gaming? You get The Red Opera. This is going to be one exciting ride to come, devised by the brilliant minds of Rick Heinz, Drake Mefestta (DiAmorte) and Paul Allender (Cradle of Filth), this 5E campaign is ultimately going to bring the metalheads of the gaming world and the gamers into the metal world as the two come clashing together, simply into one mesmerising and excitable game. Rick divulges into what is going into this mind-blowing masterpiece:-
Metal, Gaming, and the Rise of the Red Opera: Last Days of the Warlock
Do you remember Satanic Panic? That troubled period of US culture that raged from the 1980s into the early 1990s. It spread to other parts of the world and weaved its way into culture at an important time in history—when gamers were just being born. In the ’80s; ‘Stranger Danger’ was all the rage, and fundamentalist preachers like Jerry Falwell had picked up steam. Geraldo Rivera’s made a documentary Devil Worship: Exposing Satan’s Underground that told metal fans everywhere: Ozzy Osborne will lead your children to the devil. Alongside this, anti-occult crusader Pat Pulling led an organization called BADD, which stood for ‘Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons.’
If you’re a fan of metal, this might sound either familiar or wickedly cool. After all, witches and warlocks are part of our regular medium today. If you’re a gamer, then you might remember the cheesy anti Dungeons and Dragons comics. Naturally, for a large portion of us; we saw both sides. When BADD published ‘The Devil’s Web: Who Is Stalking Your Children For Satan?’ (Published in August 1989); it asked police officers to openly interrogate teenagers about the Necronomicon. H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon. At that moment, there was nothing that could stop me from listening to Nine Inch Nails or Black Sabbath while rolling D20s in my basement. After all, a South Side Calumet City Police Officer just asked a 12-year old boy if he was in league with the devil—because his mom was listening to Metallica.
Now let’s fast forward to 2020. The year of murder hornets, riots, COVID-19, and who can say what is yet to come. Music and Gaming both serve as an important cultural means of escapism and bonding. With the concert industry taking a massive hit; it is going to become undoubtedly harder for bands to get noticed. Tabletop RPG’s faded from view for some time, but have made a recent resurgence in popularity thanks to shows like Critical Role. However, the Comic Con or gaming circuit is in the same struggling boat as the concerts are. Once again, I find myself having both my fandoms pinched by events outside of anybody’s control. Fortunately for me, I’m a writer who happens to enjoy a fair bit of escapism, healthy doses of Diablo, and the fine arts of Folk Metal.
One year ago, Drake Mefestta (DiAmorte) and Paul Allender (Cradle of Filth) were in my kitchen talking about their live production: ‘The Red Opera’. They already had the music done and they were going to shoot a video in the upcoming months. They were excited and filled with enthusiasm over how wickedly cool it was going to be. A metal-rock opera with drama, symphony, actors, a stage show, and friggin’ vampires (because why not). After hearing the instrumental version of the music, I made a simple comment: “I could run a game to this music. You should turn this into a 5E campaign.”
A year of writing, filling in holes, and battling with the coolest inverted dungeon: Joseph Asphahani (The Animal in Man), Pat Edwards (Space Tripping), and Myself (Rick Heinz) finished! Right as 2020 got off to a start, DiAmorte and us joined forces with Apotheosis Studios to bring the project to life. A merging of metal and gaming, inspired by warlocks and witches, and a twelve-year-old kid who was told that we should never make deals with the devil. The Red Opera: Last Days of the Warlock is an extensive, player-driven campaign book designed for 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons using the open gaming license. Drawing inspiration from the heavy metal DiAmorte album ‘The Red Opera’, we centred upon the often- overlooked and much-misunderstood class: Warlocks. A class that rules a setting called the Shadelands, where the veil between worlds runs thin, and anybody (warlock or not) can cut deals with the elusive hidden Patrons that exist there. Bring along your existing higher-tier campaign and characters following a mysterious trail, or wander the Shadelands as entirely fresh characters experiencing adventure for the first time.
But be assured, whether Warlock or no, the pacts these mad magicians strike for power with their mysterious patrons will be at the centre of the experience, and players will find many opportunities to peak beyond the veils separating realms and pledge to these beings if they so choose. The very foundations of the Shadelands are built upon the forces that fuel Warlock magic, for it is a place unlike any other where all the pacts of all the patrons converge. And its ruler, Dorian The Accursed King, binds them together. He once envisioned a realm where Warlocks would not have to hide who they were or who they served, a place where they would not be shunned by other professions. And by his will, Dorian made it so, although lately his hold on sanity has been strained…
In order to bring this project to life, Apotheosis Studios has chosen Kickstarter as our medium. It’s where most bands and gamebooks go these days. Simply search www.theredopera.com and the internet will whisk you right there. The band DiAmorte has grown and evolved to feature a vicious cast: James McClellan Dorton III (Black Crown Initiate and Doom Eternal), and Colin Parks (Devilment / Ghosts of Atlantis) have recently joined Drake Mefestta and Paul Allender. Everyone from the writers to Apotheosis Studios, to DiAmorte is itching to bring this project to life. A full metal album and a full-length campaign adventure with a wicked cool setting.
By helping us with the Kickstarter, you can even bring your world to life in the book and collaborate on this project with us! Come take part in The Last Days of the Warlock with us at
In response to the COVID-19 situation, Pitch Black Records has issued a statement encouraging fans to instead of buying from the label to consider buying from bands and underground festival organisers who have been affected by COVID-19.
For those that do purchase from the label, 100% of all sales between April 5 and 15 on the label’s online store and Bandcamp will be donated to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund set up by the World Health Organization.
Full label statement:
"These are indeed unprecedented times we live in. It goes without saying that we as well are deeply concerned, not just for ourselves, our families and loved ones but also for our industry friends and associates and of course all our loyal fans and customers. We hope everyone is doing well and keeping safe although we do feel the need to urge everyone to do the simple thing that is constantly being repeated these days - #StayHome.
The whole situation has undoubtedly disrupted plans and scheduling across the world, including ours as well. It actually hit just as we were about to announce our next release, so that will have to wait just a little bit longer…
Thanks for all the orders that have been coming in but please keep in mind that shipping times at this stage are affected since a lot of flights and courier services are grounded. That’s why we kindly ask that you bear with us until this is sorted if you have recently made an order for physical items or are planning to. For the list of countries we are currently able to ship to please check our website.
On that note, as many of you know, this crisis has hit a lot of people in the music industry, be it musicians and bands, record store owners and festival organisers (especially some of the awesome underground festivals around the world which have taken quite a hard hit). We hate seeing so many of our associates and friends being in such an unfortunate situation so one thing we would like to ask is that before buying from us you instead (or also) consider buying merch or something (anything) directly from bands who have had shows or tours cancelled, festival organisers who have seen their month-long hard work vanish into thin air (consider also NOT asking for a refund) and others.
Still, if you do buy from us, we are announcing today that for all sales at our online store and Bandcamp between April 5th and April 15th, 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund set up by the World Health Organization. The sooner we manage to beat this thing, the sooner everything will start getting back to normal (for everyone) and every little bit we can contribute will surely help and is definitely better than nothing.
We are offering a 10% discount on our online store (use code STAYHOME) while on Bandcamp we are offering the full digital discography, in case you want to consider that instead of individual albums or tracks, at an 85% discount (so $56.85 instead of $379).
Online Store - https://store.pitchblackrecords.com/
Bandcamp - https://pitchblackrecords.bandcamp.com/
Humanity will beat this, without a question! We just have to be a little bit patient and disciplined. So once again, #StayHome, #StaySafe and always follow the guidelines and advice of your local authorities. One good thing is that you can take advantage of the situation to enjoy tons of great music, so why not go ahead and do just that!
Non-profit organization, To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is excited to announce that they have partnered with Skullcandy for their newly launched MOOD BOOST program, designed in response to the growing mental health crisis among Millennials and Generation Z.
TWLOHA founder Jamie Tworkowski says that:-
"Music can play a big part in coping with depression and anxiety. Music reminds us that it's okay to feel and it's okay to be honest, and those truths relate directly to mental health. We couldn't be more excited about this new partnership with Skullcandy. Our dedication to helping people find hope fits perfectly with their Mood Boost program."
Skullcandy Chief Marketing Officer, Jessica Klodnicki says:-
"The statistics are startling, The World Health Organization reports more than 300 million people suffer from depression worldwide. As we looked to create our new take on moods and music, we wanted to listen carefully to the voices of our core customers. It became very clear that mental health is a critical topic for them. Mood Boost is our way of shining a spotlight on this issue and ways to seek help."
Every month for the next 12 months, Mood Boost will spotlight a positive mood and look to lift our collective spirits through:
● Exclusive music artist content
Four fast-rising music stars have joined the campaign to represent a diverse range of music genres and world views: Rapper Rico Nasty; Latinx singer-songwriter, Cuco; Indie-pop singer-songwriter Gus Dapperton, and London-based pop sensation, Rina Sawayama.
● Insightful athlete content
As a brand founded at the intersection of music and board sports, Skullcandy will also profile its rich roster of surf, skate, and snow athletes through interviews designed to offer uplifting stories. Followers will hear from iconic professional athletes like surfer Coco Ho, snowboarder Mark McMorris, and skateboarder Jenn Soto, among others.
● Limited-edition product/art bundle drops
The hottest Skullcandy true wireless products will be released in small-batch, custom colorways and bundled with free limited-edition art prints by renowned graphic designers and pop-culture artists, including London-based Tina Touli and design duo Rude, as well as New York City artist Queen Andrea and France/Asia-based Paiheme Studio.
Part of every bundle sale will benefit TWLOHA to help directly fund treatment and recovery for youth suffering from depression and addiction.
Since its start in 2006, TWLOHA has donated over $2.6 million directly into treatment, has responded to over 250,000 messages from over 100 countries, and traveled more than 3.8 million miles to meet people face-to-face at nearly 3,000 events. Each month, they connect with 5 million people online through social media and their FIND HELP Tool fields 5,000 searches made by people seeking affordable, local mental health resources.
Last fall TWLOHA wrapped up their 8th annual campaign to honor World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10) and National Suicide Prevention Week (September 8 - September 14). With the help of supporters from around the world, the organization was able to raise more than $250k for treatment and recovery, surpassing their initial goal of $150k. Over 5,700 people donated to the "You Make Today Better" campaign, in addition to the sale of over 4,600 World Suicide Prevention Day packs. The money raised will help sponsor over 4,100 counseling sessions and fund 60,000 FIND HELP searches.
Skullcandy is the original lifestyle audio brand with the mission "to unleash the visceral power of music for all." Based in Park City, Utah, Skullcandy designs, markets, and distributes audio products around the globe. The company's web site can be found at www.skullcandy.com.
Napalm Records launches online informational hub in response to COVID-19 related tour delays and restrictions
As the impact of COVID-19 is being felt around the world, many of our Napalm Records artists and their teams have had to make the very difficult decision to postpone or cancel their previously scheduled tours. This current situation will cause previously unforeseeable issues for artists and the entire live entertainment industry, but the health and safety of everyone - including our artists, their teams and live music fans - is absolutely paramount, now and always.
Fan support is appreciated and very important, now more than ever. Contributing to fundraising, sharing words of support with artists, and streaming and/or purchasing music will help the beat go on at this difficult time, as bands work to move beyond current necessary setbacks.
For the convenience and planning purposes of our followers and the fans, we have created a landing page on our website, http://label.napalmrecords.com/corona, that will act as a hub for related information – including currently postponed or cancelled tours, related news, artist fundraising efforts, and streaming options. We will update this page on a regular basis.
In addition, as fellow music fans to the core, we at Napalm Records know the importance of sharing the amazing music of our passionate artists with fans – either on the road or in the comfort of their own homes. Therefore, we plan to host links to classic concerts and exclusive new content from Napalm Records artists – such as unique acoustic sets and intimate living room or studio concerts – via the above link, as well. This content will be dubbed the #NapalmSofaSeries. As our artists make this content available, it will be added to the #NapalmSofaSeries section of the landing page.
To kick things off, Wolfheart has already announced a virtual concert for all fans all over the world on April 9th. Fans can check all further details via the landing page link. Stay tuned – more content is planned to be revealed soon.
Napalm Records Owner, Founder and Managing Director Markus Riedler states:
“Our thoughts and well wishes go out to all who are impacted during this difficult period of time and we would like to thank the strong community of fans for their immense support of any and all artists in the past and especially at this time. Whether it be supporting crowdfunding campaigns, purchasing music and merchandise, or even offering words of encouragement to artists via social media - this support is crucial in keeping music moving forward in times like these. Please stay responsible, healthy and safe.”
Napalm Records Managing Director Thomas Caser states:
“The essence of our music – experiencing it live – is hit extremely hard by this pandemic. A lot of artists who were on tours that got cancelled or had scheduled tours that got cancelled or postponed are facing difficult times. But our Metal community stays strong and we have seen amazing reactions, acts of solidarity and support for the artists. This is what our family of Metal is about. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for this. Please keep on being positive, support the bands by listening to their music, show pride by proudly wearing their merchandising, and spread the music by sharing. Keep your tickets for moved tours, shows and festivals, hang in there with us! Better times will come when we all are able to gather again at concerts and festivals to celebrate our music. In the meantime, stay strong, healthy and foremost – HOME! Thank you all!”
See you online -
The Napalm Records Family: Austria, Germany & North America
More information on Napalm Records:
Napalm Records Shop
Italian metal community starts GoFundMe campaign to support the Italian Red Cross following Coronavirus outbreak
Following the declaration of national emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, Metalitalia.com and Spaziorock.it joined forces to support the Italian Red Cross and the constant commitment of its thousands of employees and volunteers in the current struggle.
The Italian Red Cross has been active at the forefront of the emergency since the start of the Covid-19 alert with multiple roles, including relief, health, psychological, logistical, information, control, screening and is carrying out many other crucial activities in the battle against this epidemic that is bringing the country to its knees. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Italian Red Cross is safely managing the transport of the sick to and between the relevant health structures, through the use of special high bio-containment means prepared in case of health emergencies like this.
We ask all of you fans, artists, record labels and music professionals to support our cause. The rock community has always been united and aimed at mutual support. A small gesture to help people who need care and support to return to their normal lives as soon as possible. With the hope of seeing each other again in a music venue soon!
Wacken Open Air plants 5,000 trees in Brazil... and more are to be planted!
In view of the horrifying images of burning forests, the team of the Wacken Open Air decided in December 2019 to refrain from sending the usual physical Christmas greetings. Instead, the metal festival joined forces with the German branch of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Instituto Terra to initiate a fundraising campaign in benefit of the Mata Atlantica region in the Brazilian rainforest.
The declared purpose of this campaign was the reforestation of an area the size of the famous Wacken infield, which covers about 5 hectares. This goal was achieved in less than a month thanks to the active support of partners and fans. This mean that the first 5,000 trees will be planted shortly. Yet the initiators of the fundraising campaign are not satisfied with their success and are currently launching a second appeal.
The founders of the Wacken Open Air, Holger Hübner and Thomas Jensen, comment on the campaign as follows:-
"We would like to thank all of the Wacken family, our crew and fans, very much", states Thomas Jensen on behalf of the team. "It is great to be breaking the 5 hectare mark so quickly, of course. Yet we would like to go one step further. Therefore we have set ourselves the new goal of reforesting an additional area the size of our Wackinger Village and the Wasteland Stage, which means three additional hectares of new forest. Once again we hope for the generosity of many kind donors."
Roberto Maldonado adds:
"We would like to thank the Wacken community very much for their great support", comments the certified forestry manager and South America spokesman at WWF Germany. "In cooperation with Instituto Terra we will now be able to plant the first 5,000 native trees in Mata Atlantica. Working together with small local farmers, we will restore river sources and carry out to enrich the plantations with native trees in a private reserve. Hopefully, this is only the beginning and that your kind help will allow us to reforest even more areas in the Mata Atlantica".
Further information about the reforestation project and instructions on how to donate can be found at this link: http://wacken.click/donate-a-tree
The World Wide Fund For Nature will be on site and report from there how the donations are being used in a few weeks.
More information about the Wacken Open Air can be found at wacken.com.
Nuclear Blast adds Paris to the list of ever expanding markets in the world, which already includes Los Angeles, London, Hamburg, and of course, the headquarters in Donzdorf, Baden Württemberg.
The label has additional representatives in Australia, Brazil, Finland, Italy and Sweden amongst others.
Nuclear Blast Paris resides in the brand new Believe offices, located at 24 Rue Toulouse-Lautrec, 75017 Paris.
The new office is managed by Jerome Riera, France and International A&R. He started his career as a musician, working with independent labels and major companies, recording and touring with hardcore, metal and rock bands for 15 years. In the beginning of 2010 he started to work as music supervisor, while developing a publishing and management company.
Myriam Silberstein is the new project manager for France. Having graduated with a Masters in Digital Marketing, she most recently worked as a junior talent manager for brand partnership at Universal Music. Myriam joins as a new force to develop the digital side of Nuclear Blast.
Jerome Riera says:-
"France is a great territory for international acts and we have a lot of strong talents here, so I am happy that Nuclear Blast saw the necessity to have a base in Paris. We will offer all artists the best possible set up to develop their careers both in their home country, as well as internationally."
Marcus Hammer, CEO adds:-
"With this new French office, this new team, supported by our talented marketing and PR team Jean Marc Tristani and Valerie Reux, Nuclear Blast continues its international growth in the metal world, hiring the best people to give to our artists the best assets everywhere in the world."
More info on NUCLEAR BLAST:
Die With Your Boots On is the name of a unique collaboration between Iron Maiden and West Ham United. Named after the 1983 song of the same name and driven by die-hard West Ham fan and founder member of the band Steve Harris, this partnership brings together two institutions with shared origins in London’s East End.
Harris has been flying the flag for West Ham on stage for decades, with his bass guitar even featuring the club’s iconic logo. His love for the Hammers goes back to 1965, as he recollects:-
“I went to see West Ham play against Newcastle when I was 9 and my mate was 10. We jumped on a bus and went to the game, and they won 4-3 and that was it. I was hooked!”
Many Maiden fans around the world have embraced Harris’ passion for West Ham and taken up support for the club themselves, often appearing at concerts in Hammers apparel. Steve added:-
“When I’m up there playing and I see fans in the audience wearing West Ham stuff it gives me goosebumps.”
Tracey Stratton, Licensing Manager at West Ham, was aware of the phenomenon:-
“One weekend last summer our club shop was inundated with rock fans from all across the globe, and we realised that Iron Maiden were playing two sold out shows at the O2. It makes perfect sense to launch this collaboration, and with Steve’s passion for it and attention to detail it has been amazing.”
Harris is very proud of the tie up with West Ham and was deeply involved in the design process, commenting:-
“I think it’s brilliant. I really love that version and colour of the crest, and that old classic kind of kit. It’s a modern shape but with a retro design, and I like that. Up the Irons!”
A full home kit will be available to fans around the world, who can now show their love for both institutions with one unique homage to the Irons. Steve launched the kit with West Ham and Argentina defender Pablo Zabaleta, who added:-
“Iron Maiden are a huge icon back home in South America and it’s great for fans of West Ham and the band to be able to show their support for both!”
The kit is available to order now from maiden.store/whu and www.officialwesthamstore.com. A limited number of shirts will also be made available in the West Ham store at the London Stadium upon release.
Photos by John McMurtrie
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