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Roadrunner Vets Dave Rath and Cees Wessels Launch New Rock Label Blue Grape Music

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Former Roadrunner Records executives Dave Rath and Cees Wessels are spearheading a fresh rock label, Blue Grape Music (BGM), Billboard can exclusively reveal.

Rath, former head of A&R at Roadrunner Records, and Wessels, founder and ex-CEO of Roadrunner, have a long — and loud — history with the harder-edged stuff. The pair played their parts in shaping the careers of Nickelback, Slipknot, Type O Negative, Killswitch Engage, Fear Factory, Sepultura, Turnstile and others.

The first signing to BGM is Code Orange, the two-time Grammy Award-nominated hardcore punk band from Pittsburgh, PA, and whose first release through the label is What Is Really Underneath?, a 14-track companion to 2020’s Underneath, a collection that is part-remix, part-soundtrack.

“I have been lucky enough to be on the ground floor with Dave Rath and Co. watching them build the foundation of Blue Grape Music,” comments Code Orange frontman Jami Morgan in a statement, unveiling the new project. “There is no group of people that I have more faith in to create a fresh, forward leaning home for rock music and beyond.

Expect BGM and its roster to operate in the harder lane.

“The focus of the label will lean toward all forms of rock music, along with music that may reflect the attitude that made rock music what it is,” Rath tells Billboard.

Blue Grape Music “strives to be a place where artists have the latitude, support, and resources to grow and create something meaningful,” he continues. “We look for music that takes the culture it came from and moves it forward to new places.”


Sony Music’s The Orchard handles distribution for BGM, which has the “muscle and reach of a major” with the “attention and dedication of an indie,” reads a statement. Each signing can expect to work with a team “carefully crafted to best serve their creative vision and goals,” the message continues.

To reach those goals, the venture taps Roadrunner alumnae Suzi Akyuz as senior vp of marketing, and Paolo d’Alessandro as executive vp of international.

Rath spent 21 years in the A&R and creative departments of Roadrunner, where he A&R’d albums by Slipknot, Korn, Gojira, Coheed and Cambria, Slash, The Amity Affliction, Trivium, Stone Sour, Dream Theater, Megadeth and more.

Wessels left Roadrunner in 2012, some 17 months after the completion of the rock and metal specialist’s sale to the Warner Music Group.

Blue Grape is headquartered in New York City with its European operation in Amsterdam. Additional signings will be revealed in the coming months.

“The collective history of BGM’s staff understands when to be patient, and when to move quickly,” Rath adds. “Our focus on providing artists with the support they need to express the best version of themselves is, first and foremost, our priority.”

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