Exceleration Music Unveils a World-Class Executive Team, a Partnership with Alligator Records, a Strategic Alliance with The Ray Charles Foundation, and The Relaunch of Candid Records
NEW YORK, Jan. 14, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Five of the independent music industry’s most influential executives have come together in a new venture aimed at enhancing the future of independent labels and artists. Started by Glen Barros (former CEO of Concord Music Group), Exceleration Music has developed into a partnership of global music industry leaders who invest in the future of independents from a wide range of culturally important genres. In addition to Barros, Exceleration is led by Dave Hansen (Executive Chairman of Merlin, the digital licensing partner for independents, and previous GM of Epitaph Records), Charles Caldas (the first CEO of Merlin), Amy Dietz (previously GM of independent music distribution leader Ingrooves) and John Burk (GRAMMY-winning producer and former President of Concord Records).
Backed by substantial investment capital and based on its core founding values of integrity, fairness, openness, humility and excellence, Exceleration 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 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.
“We believe in and are devoted to investing in independent music,” comments Barros, “and, with this team, we are well-positioned to deliver a complete package of financial, operational and strategic value to our investment partners, all of which comes with great reverence for the music they’ve created and the brands they’ve built.”
As a key step in implementing its strategy, Exceleration has announced its investment in the legendary independent blues and roots label, Alligator Records, as well as a partnership with its founder, Bruce Iglauer, who will continue at the helm of the label as he has been for the last 50 years. Iglauer and his Chicago-based team will continue to handle A&R, artist signings, new release production, project marketing, publicity, and promotion for an aggressive lineup of new recordings by the label’s existing roster as well as those by newly-signed artists, while Exceleration handles financial, operational, and administrative functions for the label. Both partners will also collaborate on marketing initiatives designed to build upon the label’s great legacy.
With Alligator’s addition to the Exceleration family, it joins Candid Records, the venerable jazz label acquired by Exceleration at the beginning of 2020. While Candid was essentially a dormant label when acquired, Exceleration has plans to relaunch the label later in 2021 with a full slate of new releases and special catalog re-issues from Candid’s storied past.
In addition to its plans for Alligator and Candid, 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.
In summing up how Exceleration has come together, Glen Barros states “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.”
About Exceleration Music’s Founding Partners
Exceleration’s partners, each of whom have spent their entire professional careers within the independent music community, understand what it means to be a music entrepreneur; the unique culture, the passion, the pride, the values, the music, the vision and the remarkable history of the sector runs deep in the history of each of the partners.
Glen has spent the majority of his career as the CEO of Concord Music Group, having taken the helm shortly after managing the acquisition of the company from its founder in 1994. Over Glen’s 25 years at Concord, the company grew from a small but revered jazz label into one of the largest and most respected independent music companies in the world, working within numerous musical genres.
Charles was the first CEO of Merlin, the global digital music licensing agency for independent labels. He oversaw the organization from its launch in 2008 through its expansion into a multi-billion dollar global organization, representing companies from over 60 markets and striking deals with the world’s leading digital music platforms including Facebook, Spotify, TenCent, Soundcloud, YouTube, and many more. Charles was also featured on Billboard’s Global Power 100 in 2018 and 2019.
John is an acclaimed record executive and record producer with great industry recognition, including GRAMMY awards for Album and Record of the Year. John spent over 25 years as a creative force within Concord, ultimately serving as the President of the Concord Records label. He has also worked extensively with The Recording Academy and currently serves as a National Trustee.
Amy has a varied background within the music industry, kicking off her career at a record store and an indie label before serving as advertising manager at Alternative Distribution Alliance, rising to VP of Label & Artist Development. As General Manager of Ingrooves, Amy oversaw day-to-day operations of one of the most successful independent music distributors in the world. She has also served on the boards of A2IM and Music Biz. Amy has been featured in Billboard’s Digital and Indie Power Player lists, as well as being named a Top Women Exec for 2020.
As the current Executive Chairman of Merlin and Founding Partner of Independent Record Pressing, Dave has worked on behalf of independent labels for his entire career. He was the GM of Epitaph and Anti- Records for over 20 years and created Insomnia Records, the mail order company for independents, in the early 90s after launching his career as a partner at Dr. Dream Records. For 10 years, Dave has been an active board member for Merlin, as well as serving two terms as an elected board member for A2IM.
About Alligator Records
Chicago-based Alligator Records, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, is the most successful independent blues and roots rock label in the world. Founded and still headed by Bruce Iglauer, the label’s catalog has grown to over 350 releases (over 100 produced or co-produced by Iglauer), including multiple Grammy and Blues Music Award winners. Alligator artists tour worldwide, headlining festivals and club performances. Rolling Stone says, “Prestigious, scrappy independent Alligator Records has reached dizzying heights in celebrating the blues,” while The New York Times says, “With muscular, no-frills production, Alligator catches the blues as it melds with soul, rock, gospel, country and zydeco, partying away the pains of love. Alligator is the leading record label for the blues, and has succeeded where the giants have failed.”
About Candid Records
Candid Records was founded in 1960 by renowned arranger and bandleader, Archie Bleyer, when he enlisted the legendary jazz journalist, Nat Hentoff, to capture the essence of cutting edge jazz and blues in New York City. This initial effort lasted less than one year but, in that time, Candid managed to produce 35 classic recordings by artists such as Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, Otis Spann, and Cecil Taylor. The label then remained relatively dormant until the late 1980s when the well-known British record executive, Alan Bates, acquired the Candid catalog and resurrected the imprint. Over the next 30 years, Alan added nearly 250 albums to the label by both jazz luminaries and new sensations, such as Jamie Cullum and Stacey Kent. Exceleration Music acquired the label in 2020 and plans to proudly build upon its great legacy.
About The Ray Charles FoundationRay Charles is a true musical icon, who forever changed the face of American music. Ray’s groundbreaking blend of Gospel and R&B earned him the title The Genius of Soul, and his foray into Country and Western shattered both musical and racial barriers, which he continued to do throughout his incredible career. His numerous awards include 8 honorary doctoral degrees, 17 GRAMMY Awards, the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award, The President’s Merit Award, Kennedy Center Honors, National Medal of the Arts, and Playboy Awards. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him #10 on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” and #2 on their list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.” Before his passing, Ray established The Ray Charles Foundation, dedicated to providing support in the area of hearing disorders and the empowerment of young people through education by offering support to educational institutions and non-profit education programs. Ray Charles said: “The inability to hear is a handicap; not the inability to see.” The vision of The Ray Charles Foundation is to instill in the youth of America that “there is no challenge too great one cannot overcome.”