LONDON, 18 FEBRUARY 1999 — Miles Copeland’s Ark 21 label and Universal Music International have signed a long-term license agreement covering the world outside the US. A distribution agreement between Ark 21 and Universal Music Group in the US is expected shortly.

Universal Music’s Polydor label will immediately assume responsibility internationally for marketing and distributing Ark 21*s artists. Releases planned for the first quarter of the year by Ark 21 include a new, as yet untitled, album from Aswad, new material from former Billy Idol co-writer and guitarist Steve Stevens and British band Presence’s debut album which features former Massive Attack vocalist Shara Nelson. (The Presence record will be released by Universal Music internationally except in the UK where it is being handled by Ark 21 sister label Pagan.)

Copeland said: “This agreement is great news for Ark 21 and our artists. We’re already getting a great buzz building on our upcoming releases and this will ensure that they now get the attention they deserve. We wanted to be with the best record company in the world and now we are.”

Larsen said: “Having worked with Miles’ IRS label in the past, I know his professional and eclectic approach to the creative process. This is a great opportunity for me to work with Miles and Steve again and for Universal to have access to Ark 21*s interesting roster.”

Founded by Miles Copeland in 1996 and based in Los Angeles and London, Ark 21 is headed internationally by managing director Steve Tannett. The label focuses on artists with an established base, concept albums and soundtracks. After its first year in business, US industry magazine Gavin nominated it ‘Triple A’ and ‘Americana Label of the Year’ and one of its artists, Maia Sharp, as ‘Best New Triple A Artist of the Year’ at the same time.

Universal Music International is a division of the Universal Music Group, a unit of The Seagram Company Ltd, a global entertainment and spirits and wine company.