Not to be confused with Network Records.
Founder Terry McBride
Mark Jowett
Ric Arboit
Dan Fraser
Distributor(s) Four Manufacturing Services, Alternative Distribution Alliance (U.S.)
Sony Music (Canada)
Essential (UK)
Believe (rest-of-world)
Genre Alternative rock, indie rock, electronica
Country of origin Canada
Location Vancouver, British Columbia,
Los Angeles, California
New York, New York
London, United Kingdom
Hamburg, Germany
Nashville, Tennessee
Official website

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 quickly expanded in Canada and internationally, ultimately becoming one of the largest and most influential independent record labels in the world.[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.

Today, Nettwerk continues to achieve critical and commercial success with label, management and publishing rosters, including Andy Kong, fun., Passenger, Christina Perri, Guster, Family of the Year, Ólafur Arnalds, and Perfume Genius.


Nettwerk's origins can be traced back to co-founder Terry McBride's early days growing up in Canada, where he'd seek relief from long days working as a lifeguard by listening to a transistor radio and Beatles LP's on his record player,[2]:18–21 honing his skills as a natural music scout. Once out of college, 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 pioneering 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 never quite got 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 not only paved the way for a distribution deal for the band but for Nettwerk as a label. Fueled by this and Skinny Puppy's success (and a little attention from Tipper Gore's negative campaigning),[2]:50 Nettwerk began to grow.

At a show in Halifax, McBride ran into a nineteen-year-old singer-songwriter named Sarah McLachlan[2]:65 – he'd been introduced to her music through Jowett, and even 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 on the spot, 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 sudden 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. It was with 1997’s Surfacing that McLachlan really catapulted, with the two hit singles "Building a Mystery" and "I Will Remember You", and winning two Grammy Awards.

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]

The Lilith Fair momentum was a huge boost to Nettwerk, yet they still kept taking risks. They 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", skyrocketed to 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 continued to branch out with new artists on both the label side and management division: they brought on Dido in 1999, as well as Sum 41, both of whom were immensely successful worldwide. 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 extreme talent and youthful stubbornness.[2]:165 Though Lavigne would release her records through Arista, she continued with Nettwerk for her management.[5]

It was around this time that the label entered into an agreement with EMI that allowed Nettwerk to pursue the company’s rejected material – one of which was a record called Parachutes by the band Coldplay. Nettwerk recognized the resonance in the songs immediately, and released the album in North America in 2000.

Unlike other major music companies at the time, 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 soon 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 2008, motivated by a newfound passion in yoga, Nettwerk founder Terry McBride decided to revive a long 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.[11]

Nettwerk Music Group Artists

Current Label Artists[12]

Current Management Artists[13]

Current Publishing Roster[14]



See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 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. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 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". 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
  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. Shaw, Gillian. "Music mogul finds big market for yoga". The Vancouver Sun.
  12. "Nettwerk Records". Retrieved Dec 17, 2014.
  13. "Nettwerk Management". Retrieved Dec 17, 2014.
  14. "Publishing Roster". Nettwerk. Retrieved 19 December 2014.

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