Roadrunner Records

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Roadrunner Records
Parent companyWarner Music Group
Founded1980; 44 years ago (1980)
FounderCees Wessels
Country of originNetherlands
LocationNew York City, United States
Official website

Roadrunner Records is an American record label focused on heavy metal and hard rock bands. Founded in the Netherlands in 1980, it is now a division of Warner Music Group and is based in New York City.


The label was launched in 1980 in the Netherlands. Roadrunner's initial business was importing North American metal-band recordings into Europe. In 1986, Roadrunner opened its US headquarters in New York City and later opened offices in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, Denmark, Russia and Canada. Early successes included albums from King Diamond (the first Roadrunner artist to enter the Billboard Top 200 albums chart) and Annihilator. The label also handled early Metallica releases in the Scandinavian region. The end of the 1980s saw the release of two albums that are now considered classics of their respective genres: Obituary's Slowly We Rot and Sepultura's Beneath the Remains.[citation needed]

The 1990s saw the arrival of acts such as Cynic, Deicide, Life of Agony, Machine Head, Suffocation, Type O Negative, and underground grunge rockers Willard. As the 1990s wore on, several of Roadrunner's bands managed to make an impact on the mainstream, most notably Sepultura and Type O Negative. Sepultura's 1993 album, Chaos A.D., became the first Roadrunner band to crack the Top 40 on the Billboard album chart. Type O Negative became the first Roadrunner band to receive a certification from the RIAA; this was a Gold award (and later Platinum award) for the 1993 album Bloody Kisses, which was certified in 1995. The band also became the first Roadrunner band to receive radio play. In 2000, Slipknot became the first Roadrunner band to go Platinum. Nickelback were also very successful on the label, although they were signed to another label in their native Canada. Derek Shulman ran the label in the late '90s.[citation needed]. In 2005, the label launched a new project called Roadrunner United to commemorate the label's 25th anniversary.

Roadrunner Records ran into financial trouble in 2001 after its distribution deal with RED Distribution through Edel Music was aborted after Edel ended up in US$400 million in debt. Unfortunately, as Roadrunner had just taken out a US$15 million loan from Edel, Cees Wessels was forced to put 49% of the label's stock up for $30 million, attracting the interest of major labels such as RCA Records, Atlantic Records and Columbia Records.[1] In July 2001, The Island Def Jam Music Group purchased a 50% stake in Roadrunner worth US$33 million, larger than the asking price.[2] While there were fears of legal action from Edel, who owned 17% of Roadrunner's stock, negotiations allowed the label to switch "immediately" to Island Def Jam and its distributor, Universal Music & Video Distribution.[3]

On December 18, 2006, Warner Music Group signed an agreement to purchase a majority in shares (73.5%) of Roadrunner Records' parent company, Roadrunner Music Group B.V.[4] This deal became finalized on January 29, 2007, after receiving regulatory approval in Germany.[5]

On June 11, 2008, Roadrunner Records was voted as the "Best Metal Label" by Metal Hammer at their Golden Gods Awards,[6] an award that it has won the past four years in a row. The award was accepted by Sharon den Adel and Ruud Jolie of Within Temptation, one of Roadrunner's biggest acts.

Roadrunner Records was significantly affected by Warner Music Group's legal dispute against YouTube, including having their account's YouTube partnership canceled. Most of the videos on their channel, however, are still viewable. There is even a disclaimer talking about Warner's dispute right on the channel.[citation needed]

On November 11, 2010, Warner Music Group announced they had acquired the remaining of Roadrunner's stock, acquiring the company fully. However, WMG maintained that Roadrunner would still continue to operate as a distinct brand. Cees Wessels, the label's founder, remained as CEO.[7] Employees at Roadrunner nicknamed WMG's acquisition of the company "The Red Wedding", in reference to the Game of Thrones episode "The Rains of Castamere".[8]

On April 26, 2012, it was announced that Warner Music Group would make substantial cutbacks throughout Roadrunner Records worldwide operations.[9] According to staff working at the company, The UK offices and the Canadian offices of Roadrunner Records are to be closed completely, with severe levels of cutbacks occurring across the rest of the label worldwide. It has also been announced that the Roadrunner office in The Netherlands is to close, and that the label's founder Cees Wessels is stepping down from his role of CEO.[10] The following years saw several major Roadrunner acts leave the label, including DevilDriver and Alter Bridge (who both moved to Napalm Records, with Devildriver's catalogue being sold to The Echo Label), Opeth, Machine Head, Slipknot (After releasing The End, So Far in 2022) and Soulfly (all of whom followed former A&R of SVP Monte Conner to Nuclear Blast) and Dream Theater (who signed with InsideOut Music in 2017) In July 2017, British rock band Milk Teeth signed with Roadrunner Records.[11]

In June 2018, Roadrunner became a sub-label of Warner's Elektra Music Group division.[12] In June 2022, Elektra Music Group, and subsequently Roadrunner, was merged into the new umbrella label group 300 Elektra Entertainment.[13][14]

International labels[edit]

Roadrunner Records UK[edit]

Roadrunner Records UK operates out of the Warner Music London office. Their roster includes the addition of Alter Bridge, Down, Satyricon and Slash.[15]

Notable artists[edit]

Currently signed[edit]

Past Roadrunner Records artists[edit]


Since the 1990s, Roadrunner Records has been criticised by several of its past alumni over its record contracts, business practices and management and promotion of its releases. Artists who have criticised Roadrunner include Megadeth,[17] Slipknot,[18][19] Obituary,[20] Opeth,[21] Chimaira,[22] Vision of Disorder[23] and Sepultura.[24][25]

Glassjaw members Daryl Palumbo and Justin Beck continue to speak unfavourably of Roadrunner, years after the problems the band experienced with them. They openly advise people not to buy their first full-length so as not to give the label money, and have repeatedly told fans at shows to illegally download the record.[26] Palumbo has said: "Roadrunner is a joke. Roadrunner's not even a real label. It has the power to be one of the superpowers in the heavy music industry. While labels like Victory Records, which is such a small hardcore label, is totally surpassing Roadrunner... It's like the scourge of the music industry.[27] Beck has said: "Seriously, don't ever support anything from Roadrunner – they suck!"[28] Palumbo has said that Roadrunner didn't put the band on enough tours: "We never toured half as much as we wanted to, I just wish we got to tour more in support of [Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence]"; and, "They are a miserable fuckin' corporation that does not bend for their bands, does not give their bands anything and they're just terrible businessmen....They had 2 cash cows, Slipknot and Nickelback, and every other project they had rode backseat to those bands, and then the second that the new Slipknot record came out and didn't go quadruple Platinum in the first few hours it was released they fuckin' turned their backs on Slipknot. That label just wants instant gratification where it sells its units and that's a joke. You can't run a major corporation with that as your business strategy".[29]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "ROADRUNNER LANDS ATISLAND DEF JAM". HITS Daily Double. Retrieved 2022-06-04.
  2. ^ "Roadrunner lands at Island Def Jam / Music News // Drowned in Sound". Archived from the original on 2021-06-20. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  3. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (2001-08-04). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. {{cite book}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  4. ^ Warner Music Group (2006-12-18). "Warner Music Group to Acquire Majority Stake in Roadrunner Music Group". Warner Music Group. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
  5. ^ Warner Music Group (2007-01-29). "Warner Music Group Completes Acquisition of Roadrunner Music Group". Warner Music Group. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
  6. ^ "Roadrunner Records Page Not Found". Roadrunner Records Official Website. Archived from the original on 2017-05-26. Retrieved 2017-06-20. {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  7. ^ "WMG Fully Acquires Roadrunner". Archived from the original on 2010-11-14. Retrieved 2011-05-10.
  8. ^ MetalSucks (2022-04-26). "Glow On: A Complete History of Roadrunner Records, Pt. 2 - 2012-2022". MetalSucks. Retrieved 2023-02-19.
  9. ^ "Roadrunner Records UK & European Offices To Close". 2017-07-14. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  10. ^ "Layoffs at Roadrunner Records; Founder/CEO Cees Wessels Stepping Down". 2012-04-26. Archived from the original on 2013-01-23. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  11. ^ "Milk Teeth Sign to Roadrunner Records". Music Connection. Retrieved 2017-11-10.
  12. ^ "Roadrunner Records – Official Site". Elektra Music Group. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  13. ^ "WMG 300 Elektra Entertainment – 3EE – Arrives, Led by Chairman & CEO Kevin Liles". WMG Official Website. Retrieved 2022-06-23.
  14. ^ "Warner Music Group". Variety. Retrieved 2022-06-23.
  15. ^ "Roadrunner Records UK // ARTISTSDIRECT TALK TO CAVALERA CONSPIRACY". Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  16. ^ Allegrezza, Kim (October 22, 2017). "Interview: Theory Of A Deadman's Dean Back on their new sound for 'Wake Up Call'". AXS. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  17. ^ "Megadeth Frontman Slams Roadrunner Records". Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  18. ^ "Slipknot guitarist says band has never made money from record sales". Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  19. ^ Kennelty, Greg (2022-09-28). "COREY TAYLOR Explains SLIPKNOT's Split With Roadrunner Records, Plans For The Future". Metal Injection. Retrieved 2022-09-30.
  20. ^ Blabbermouth (2017-10-15). "OBITUARY Drummer Says Former Record Label Won't 'Negotiate' Deal To Reissue Classic Albums". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. Archived from the original on 2018-10-21. Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  21. ^ Kennelty, Greg (2017-11-26). "Mikael Åkerfeldt Says OPETH Started Its Own Label Because Of A Bad Time With Roadrunner Records". Metal Injection. Archived from the original on 2022-01-22. Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  22. ^ BraveWords. "CHIMAIRA Reveal Details Regarding Their 2006 Departure From Roadrunner Records". Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  23. ^ "Interview with Vision of Disorder". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  24. ^ Blabbermouth (2003-07-09). "SEPULTURA's GREEN Explains ROADRUNNER Departure". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. Archived from the original on 2020-08-15. Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  25. ^ Blabbermouth (2006-05-07). "SEPULTURA Frontman DERRICK GREEN Is Happy To Leave ROADRUNNER Behind". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  26. ^ " The Justin Beck Interview (June 2008) (Page 1) – Glassjaw – GJN Forum". Archived from the original on 2010-07-02. Retrieved 2010-08-01.
  27. ^ "Show & Tell - S&T chats with Daryl of Glassjaw". Archived from the original on November 17, 2002. Retrieved October 25, 2008.
  28. ^ "Glassjaw – Interview with The Suicide Girls". Archived from the original on 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2010-08-01.
  29. ^ "Glassjaw Interviews ~ Crud Magazine ~ Ozzfest 2002 Castle Donnington, England". Archived from the original on 2002-08-11. Retrieved 2010-08-01.

External links[edit]