Warner Records and Steve Carless Officially Launch Defiant Records JV Label, Set Sights on Developing Acts ‘Who Are Always Challenging the Status Quo’

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Warner Records has partnered with its A&R president, Steve Carless, to launch a joint-venture label called Defiant Records. Additionally, Defiant has released its debut project, a 28-track effort featuring MCVERTT, Bandmanrill, and Sha EK. Photo Credit: Jimmy Fontaine

Warner Records and its A&R president, Steve Carless, have formally unveiled Defiant Records and the newly minted JV label’s first project.

Warner Records reached out to Digital Music News today with word of Defiant Records’ launch, which has arrived about two years following Carless’ start as A&R president. Prior to joining Warner Records, the SC Company founder had held executive roles at Atlantic, Def Jam, and Republic, to name some.

Now, the just-established Defiant Records, not to be confused with the upstate New York label of the same name, the UK’s Defiant Records “digital record label,” or New Hampshire’s Defiant Records & Craft Beer, is poised to innovate by signing acts who are “challenging the status quo,” according to Carless.

“Defiant will be filled with individuals who are always challenging the status quo, always going to be in an innovation phase of their career,” the industry veteran communicated.

Meanwhile, Defiant’s aforementioned initial release, Defiant Presents: Jiggy In Jersey, has already become available to fans. A joint effort from Newark-based MCVERTT, Club Godfather rapper Bandmanrill, and Face of the What rapper Sha EK, the “fiery mix of drill music and Jersey club” encompasses 28 tracks.

Additionally, Warner Records and Defiant have debuted “a scorching new video” for “Face Down,” which MCVERTT recorded with featured acts A$AP Ferg and Sexyy Red.

Defiant’s rollout was made official about 10 months after Warner Records detailed a “worldwide joint venture” with Mel Carter’s Second Estate Records. More recently, March of 2023 brought with it the rollout of Warner Records’ first flagship electronic dance music label, Sam Mobarek-headed Major Recordings.

And after that, Warner Records in July launched Africa-focused JV label Protect the Culture with former Motown general manager Marc Byers. (Leading streaming services in Africa, Mdundo chief among them, are forecasting significant growth for the remainder of 2023 as well as 2024.)

Earlier this week, the overarching Warner Music Group posted seemingly improved financials for Q2 2023, including close to $1.6 billion in revenue for the three-month stretch. When the market closed today, the major label’s stock (NASDAQ: WMG) was worth $33.04 per share – reflecting a six percent improvement from Monday, a 17 percent hike across the past month, and a seven percent dip from 2023’s beginning.