Greensleeves Records and Publishing, the Middlesex, UK-based reggae recording label, reported it’s first profit in years. Greensleeves’ new president Olivier Chastain, explained that the profits were due to increased sales and business improvements such as office consolidations, outsourced distribution, and reissuing sections of the label’s back catalog. The news is seen as a possible revival in a previously-shrinking reggae industry.
“The main focus has been to improve sales and marketing. This has brought the company back to profitability since June (even though we have a lot of liabilities dating back to [our previous ownership by UK-based Zest Group] to cover),” said Chastain in an exclusive interview with Splash.
The declaration was made a mere 5 months after rival VP Records acquired Greensleeves from the Zest Group in February 2008. Zest sold Greensleeves at a loss of £738,000 since it’s purchase of the label in 2006, even though the Greensleeves catalog had grown during the 2 years of ownership.
Administrative costs led to much of the label’s losses under Zest; as part of the VP acquisition, Greensleeve’s US and Japan offices were merged with VP. Chastain himself was previously the head of marketing at VP and was promoted to his new role during the labels’ merger.
Greensleeves is the world’s largest reggae publisher, selling reggae hits in the US, Japan, France, Germany, Benelux, Canada and Scandinavia. The label’s back catalogue includes 400 albums and 900 singles, and they intend to reissue as many as possible, according to Chastain: “We invested in a major catalogue reissue programme to ensure that all of the back-catalogue is available for sale; we started putting out new products such as Fantan Mojah‘s new album or Sizzla‘s Best Of.”
The Greensleeves hit list is long and growing: in addition to past successes such as Elephant Man‘s first 3 albums, Ward 21, and Vybz Kartel‘s 2004 debut, the label has signed new deals with current reggae and dancehall artistes such as Busy Signal and Etana.
Chastain is cautiously optimistic about the label’s turnaround, declaring that “it will take a year or so to start seeing concrete results but the early signs are extremely positive. On the music publishing front, we signed a lot of writers to Greensleeves Publishing (Llamar Brown, Busy Signal, Etana, Shane Brown, Fantan Mojah, Demarco, to name a few), changed some of our administration deals internationally, invested heavily in marketing the catalogue and changed our internal computer/royalty management software.”
The infusion of Queens, New York-based VP Records’ strong management style seems to be living up to their slogan of “Miles Ahead in Reggae Music.” VP Records also owns the 17 North Parade label that has made frequent appearances on this site.