According to Billboard, Rhymesayers Entertainment, the Minneapolis-based hip-hop label that's released albums by Atmosphere, MF Doom, Eyedea & Abilities, Soul Position, and many more, has inked a deal with Warner Music Group's Independent Label Group. Ditching distributor Navarre Corp., Rhymesayers will now have its catalog distributed by Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA), WMG's "indie" distributor.
"If we have someone who wants to be on a major label, we can, in fact, do that," said co-founder Brent "Siddiq" Sayers to Billboard. "But if we have someone, like Atmosphere, who does not want to do that, we can keep doing what we're doing and bring in some select [promotional/marketing] services."
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the independent label has hooked up with a major for distribution. Nearly all the indie mainstays have major label distribution deals. Other labels that have distribution deals with ADA include Matador, Merge, Secretly Canadian, Touch and Go, Thrill Jockey, Sub Pop, Barsuk, and Domino. Other indie distros include Caroline (EMI), RED (Sony), and Fontana (Universal).
Majors count sales of indie titles through their distribution companies as part of the company's overall sales, which is why some indies argue that majors don't quite own as large a pie of overall music consumption as they make it seem. If you can figure out the logistics of erecting a good, profitable way for indies to get widespread distribution without a major music group's support, you should e-mail me the details so I can get rich off it.