Warner Records Launches Flagship Dance Label Major Recordings: ‘We’re Not Just Gunning For Hits’
Warner Records is stepping further onto the dancefloor.
On Monday (March 13), the label announced the launch of its first-ever flagship dance label, Major Recordings. The label is led by executive Sam Mobarek, a longtime figure in the global dance music scene.
The label’s first signing, in partnership with Parlophone’s FFRR, is PARISI. The duo’s recent work includes behind-the-scenes production with Fred again.. and Swedish House Mafia and an official collaboration with Buy Now, the project from Swedish House Mafia’s Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso. PARISI’s signing to Major Recording marks the launch of their artist project. (“They’re the producer’s producers,” says Mobarek.)
The launch of Major Recordings expand on Warner’s recent marquee successes in the dance realm, with label trio RÜFÜS DU SOL winning the best dance/electronic recording Grammy in 2022, producer Illenium earning a Grammy nomination that same year and David Guetta and Bebe Rexha‘s “I’m Good (Blue)” becoming a major 2022 hit, with the song reaching No. 4 on the Hot 100, where it’s currently in its 27th week.
With Major Recordings, Mobarek will take this momentum and focus it on the ground level of the dance music scene by discovering, signing and developing talent that reflects the breadth, depth, diversity and roots of the sonically sprawling genre.
“I don’t want to sign a bunch of things just because they’re going to give us streams,” she says. “I want to create something focused on community and good music.” Mobarek plans to achieve this goal by creating an artist-friendly label with personality and emotion, one that’s strongly tied to the underground, which has a strong network of artists and fans, and that’s not simply driven by bottom lines.
“Term-wise,” Mobarek says, “that means being fair and exploring how to be inventive about how we do our deals. We want everyone to make money, but because it’s dance music we’re not just gunning for hits; we’re gunning for cultural importance.” Additional signings will be announced in the coming months, with these to include both full artist signings and one-off singles, in order to create flexibility. Music signed to the label will represent the wide spectrum of dance music — a genre that offers a subgenre to fit every conceivable emotion or time of day.
“It will definitely be all over the place in that someone can come to us and be like, ‘What am I in the mood to do? Am I in the mood to sleep? Am I in the mood to rage? There’s [going to be] something here for all of those moods,” says Mobarek.
The label’s focus on authenticity aligns well for Mobarek, who’s been in dance music for nearly two decades. Her previous experience includes Ultra Music — where she led the marketing department and helped propel artists like Calvin Harris and Steve Aoki during the height of the EDM boom — the digital download store Beatport and her own marketing agency, Mob Creative, where clients included house music legend MK.
This on-the-ground experience, combined with Mobarek’s genuine love for the genre, have given her a deep understanding of sounds, trends and how to break artists and tracks not just across radio and streaming, but into the furthest corners of clubland.
“It’s not just about hiring a DJ servicing company and pushing music out via them,” Mobarek says of her strategy. “It’s about using the relationships I have with artists directly, timing things correctly, knowing who would care about [new music], knowing the difference between what Diplo’s Revolution and BPM would play [on Sirius] and which DJs are playing what.” In addition to signing acts and music, she’ll also work with Warner Music Group’s director of global strategy for electronic music, Anton Partridge, to identify dance acts signed to Warner in other territories and break them in the States.
“There’s a whole roster of Warner acts that I’ve been able to be like, ‘I know what to do with them here,” she says.
Such a nuanced understanding of the scene was key in making Mobarek the right fit for this new role. “With Major Recordings, we’re doubling down [on our strong presence in the dance music community], putting renewed energy and dedicated focus on supporting even more acts from around the world,” the label’s co-chairman & COO Tom Corson and co-chairman & CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck say in a joint statement. “Sam will be the driving force behind our success, helping us ensure that this music and these artists make a true global and cultural impact.”
“I can feel it in my stomach; we’re on the cusp of something,” Mobarek says of the energy behind dance music in the U.S. at the moment. “There are all these signs that point to it coming like [David Guetta and Bebe Rexha’s success and Skrillex, Four Tet and Fred again..’s sold out Madison Square Garden show].”
“I’m not going to try and predict what it looks like,” she continues, “but I’m going make sure people see it.”