Five highly regarded independent music executives have come together to form a new venture called Exceleration Music, MBW can reveal.
Started by former Concord Music Group CEO Glen Barros, Exceleration Music’s aim is to enhance “the future of independent labels and artists”.
The new company has developed into a partnership of global music industry leaders, including Dave Hansen (former GM of Epitaph Records and Executive Chairman of Merlin), Charles Caldas (the first CEO of Merlin), Amy Dietz (previous GM of Ingrooves) and John Burk (Grammy-winning producer and former President of Concord Records).
Exceleration reveals that it is “backed by substantial investment capital” and states that it “plans to leverage its partners’ extensive expertise and deep understanding of the independent music culture to make tailored investments in independent music rights and the individuals that create them”.
In doing so, Exceleration explains that it will offer personalized solutions “to entrepreneurs seeking capital to achieve growth as well as those trying to achieve liquidity or an honorable exit, which preserves and enhances the legacies of both the entrepreneurs and their artists alike”.
Exceleration is currently “in a number of conversations about investments in companies across a wide range of genres” and expects to make further announcements as the year progresses.
As a first step toward the implementation of this strategy, Exceleration has announced its investment in legendary Chicago-based independent blues label, Alligator Records, as well as a partnership with its founder, Bruce Iglauer, who will continue to helm the label – as he has done for the last 50 years.
Iglauer and his team will continue to handle A&R, artist signings, new release production, project marketing, publicity, and promotion for a lineup of new recordings by the label’s existing roster as well as those by newly-signed artists.
Exceleration will handle financial, operational, and administrative functions for the label and both partners will collaborate on marketing initiatives designed to build on the label’s great legacy.
In addition, Exceleration has revealed that, at the start of 2020 it acquired venerable jazz label Candid Records, which was founded in 1960 by renowned arranger and bandleader, Archie Bleyer.
Candid was a dormant label, but Exceleration plans to relaunch the brand later in 2021 with a full slate of new releases and special catalog re-issues from the label’s storied past.
Veteran jazz executive, Mark Wexler (former GM of GRP and Concord Records) has been brought in to lead the label.
Exceleration has also entered into an alliance with The Ray Charles Foundation by which they will jointly issue special releases from the Ray Charles vaults, most of which have not been widely available on digital music services for the past decade.
“Like any good investor, we intend to make sound, principled financial decisions. But we will never lose sight of why music and music companies have value in the first place.”
Glen Barros said: “It’s great to see the music industry being embraced by the investment world. Not so long ago, most investors thought this industry was finished.
“But this influx of capital has in many ways turned music into a commodity to be traded like any other financial asset.
“For me and my partners, this is completely contrary to why we’ve spent our entire careers in the music industry. We believe in the power of music to make the world a better place. We believe in the people who give music an opportunity to reach everywhere in the world.
“Like any good investor, we intend to make sound, principled financial decisions. But we will never lose sight of why music and music companies have value in the first place and believe that staying true to these beliefs will lead to better investments and greater rewards for everyone involved.”
Added Barros: “When I started the company, I decided to go with a ‘first who, then what’ strategy. With our industry becoming more and more commoditized, I wanted to put people first — people who care about independent music and share similar values.
“Quite frankly, I am completely amazed and truly blessed by how this strategy has developed. To have partners like John, Amy, Charles, and Dave is truly a dream come true.
“But it goes beyond this, to the great investors we’re working with, the team we’re assembling, our professional advisors, and now the opportunity to work with Bruce Iglauer at Alligator and Valerie Ervin at the Ray Charles Foundation.
“With a dedicated group like this, I know we’re going to do great things for the indie community and have a lot of fun along the way.”
“We want to build a company and a culture that allows artists of all genres to thrive and allows us to collaborate with some of the visionaries and entrepreneurs who’ve established great labels.”
John Burk added: “I’m thrilled to be working with such an incredible team of talented and like-minded people. I know I speak for Glen, Amy, Charles and Dave when I say that we are all drawn to the vibrant creativity and innovation that is at the core of the independent music world, where the music always come first.
“We want to build a company and a culture that allows artists of all genres to thrive and allows us to collaborate with some of the visionaries and entrepreneurs who’ve established great labels, with an eye towards helping them take their legacies to new heights as we move into the next incarnation of our ever-changing business.”
“We will be listening to the needs of these entrepreneurs and lending our expertise while preserving and developing their legacies.”
Amy Dietz said: “One of the most exciting things for me is the team we’ve assembled and the mission we’ve set out to accomplish.
“Exceleration is a group of people with a proven track record of serving, supporting and fostering relationships in the independent community.
“We will be listening to the needs of these entrepreneurs and lending our expertise while preserving and developing their legacies. I’m excited to get started and look forward to having a lot of fun along the way!”
“We are aligned in our deep values and ambitions to contribute to preserving a healthy independent sector.”
Charles Caldas said: “As the digital music market continues to evolve into a more global, diverse market, one where artists and genres are crossing borders in unprecedented ways, having the opportunity to work such an impressive group of respected colleagues to build a new, future-focused company is an exciting opportunity.
“We are aligned in our deep values and ambitions to contribute to preserving a healthy independent sector. I look forward to playing a part in growing this company into a valuable and important part of our worldwide sector in the years to come.”
“Exceleration’s music partners have spent their entire careers working on behalf of independents, and I look forward to working with them and creating unique partnerships with creators to extend their legacies and to grow their business.”
Dave Hansen: “I have a tremendous amount of respect for the owners of independent record labels and their artists. These entrepreneurs have taken huge risks to help bring genres and music scenes to light.
“Exceleration’s music partners have spent their entire careers working on behalf of independents, and I look forward to working with them and creating unique partnerships with creators to extend their legacies and to grow their business.
“I hope to help independents remain independent and to provide opportunities for others in the industry.”Music Business Worldwide