After Kevin Saunderson sold the KMS catalogue to Beat Music Fund this year, the mystery remains of why Juan Atkins hasn’t sold the Metroplex archive to the highest bidder…

Whilst Ears To The House aren’t fans of pointlessly dwelling on the year that’s gone by – we prefer to leave the lists to other websites – it hasn’t gone unnoticed that 2023 was a year when the dance music trade finally cottoned onto the money to be made from selling the rights to an archive of music.

The person selling up gets a lot of money for the privilege, whilst they no longer have to do any of the administrative work involved with owning a catalogue of music. Perhaps this was what tempted Kevin Saunderson to sell his KMS Records archive to the Beat Music Fund behemoth earlier this year for an undisclosed six-figure sum.

Since the news emerged, questions have inevitably arisen about how long it would be before the other so-called Belleville Three members made deals for their own labels. Juan Atkins continues to own Metroplex to this day, whilst Derrick May still includes Transmat amongst his assets – but neither has announced any kind of sale.

The irony of this won’t be lost on Derrick May, of course – Ears To The House understands that he was previously offered a six-figure sum of money from a European company for the Transmat archive back in 2019. May is said to have angrily declined the offer, and reportedly believes it to be worth far more than what was on the table.

But what explains the mystery of Juan Atkins and Metroplex, the label he founded back in 1985 and used as an outlet to release most of his own music? Well, we’re told that part of the reason a deal hasn’t happened is because of the potential legal repercussions.

A regular source from Detroit explained that “I suspect it’s because the Juan Atkins catalogue doesn’t just involve him. The role of Rik Davis in the Cybotron productions from 1985 and beforehand could well be an obstruction to a deal. If Juan did a deal with a big company to buy the Metroplex archive, the new owner could soon find itself threatened with legal action if Rik felt he wasn’t receiving a fair slice of what was due.”

Davis and Atkins were part of Cybotron from 1981 until 1985 – with the official story being that Atkins left due to artistic differences with his musical partner. However, Atkins resumed using the alias himself without Davis at a later stage – meaning that many early Cybotron releases are currently unlikely to ever be repressed…

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