Concord Music Group Acquires Celebrated American Roots Label Rounder Records
Acquisition Firmly Establishes the Combined Entity as the
World’s Preeminent Independent Music Company
Los Angeles, CA - April 14th, 2010 - The Concord Music Group today announced the acquisition of storied Massachusetts-based independent music label Rounder Records. Rounder, celebrating its 40th year as the world’s leading American roots music label, is a major force in a broad range of musical genres including bluegrass, Americana, singer-songwriter, Cajun & Zydeco and children’s music. Rounder possesses an extraordinary recorded catalog and current artist roster including bluegrass superstar Alison Krauss, singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter, banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, actor/musician Steve Martin, jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux, the iconic Robert Plant, notable children’s artist/activist Raffi and country legend Willie Nelson, to name just a few. The acquisition of Rounder and its essential collection of over 3,000 masters combined with Concord Music Group’s rich catalog of more than 10,000 master recordings strengthens Concord’s status as one of the world’s most significant independent record companies, with a leadership position in multiple genres.
Rounder’s creative and marketing functions will continue to be based in Boston and its owners and founders Ken Irwin, Bill Nowlin and Marian Leighton Levy will remain active with the company in a creative and advisory capacity. The company’s senior management will also remain in place: John Virant will continue as the President of Rounder; Sheri Sands will stay on as General Manager. Operating synergies will be achieved by combining the sales, administrative and support functions of the two companies.
Rounder, founded in 1970 by Cambridge folkies, Irwin, Nowlin, and Leighton Levy, has been at the center of nearly all of the American roots revivals that have reshaped the music world in the last 40 years. The self-titled 1975 record by J.D. Crowe and the New South (featuring future stars Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice and Jerry Douglas) revitalized bluegrass and inspired such modern superstars as Rounder’s own Alison Krauss, who is the most decorated female artist in the history of the Grammy® Awards and has also sold over eight million albums and DVDs. Her collaboration with Led Zeppelin front-man Robert Plant on the album Raising Sand emerged as one of 2007’s major critical and word-of-mouth sales success stories. The album was RIAA certified platinum in early 2008 and won five Grammy® Awards including Album and Record of the Year in 2009. An unequaled leader in the preservation and re-release of precious historic recordings, Rounder has brought the music of Jelly Roll Morton, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers and Mississippi John Hurt back to vibrant life. In addition, their dazzling work on the epic anthologies from the Library of Congress and the Alan Lomax Collection has been universally respected and admired.
Glen Barros, President and CEO of the Concord Music Group, said, “The combination of Concord and Rounder makes so much sense on a creative, strategic and cultural level. With the addition of Rounder, Concord is gaining a magnificent catalog of recordings, the opportunity to work with more of the world’s most amazing artists and a company filled with some great people. Plus, Rounder’s uncompromising commitment to authenticity and intense independent spirit is perfectly in line with everything that Concord is about.”
Norman Lear, Concord Music Group Chairman and co-owner added, “We couldn’t be more honored to join together with Rounder in our collective mission to deliver great, timeless music.”
Marian Leighton Levy, co-Rounder Founder, concurs and adds, “For us, it’s always been about the music. We have long been aware of Concord’s commitment to great catalogue labels within a vibrant and contemporary independent context, and feel the Concord Records Group provides not only a great home for our music and artists, but also a stronger and more secure position going forward.”
John Virant, President of Rounder, said “We’ve always been the little label that could, and our new affiliation with Concord – another fiercely independent organization that shares our core values -- ensures that we can remain true to our central calling: discovering and nurturing quality musical talent.”
About Concord Music Group:
Concord Music Group is one of the largest independent record and music publishing companies in the world and is owner of a rich and historically significant catalog of recordings. Concord Music Group’s legendary family of labels include Concord Records, Concord Jazz, Fantasy, Stax, Milestone, Riverside, Specialty, Telarc, Peak, Heads Up, Prestige and several others. They include titles from some of the most admired and enduring names in music, including Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Isaac Hayes, Little Richard, Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson, Rosemary Clooney, George Shearing and Mel Torme. The group’s current roster of world-class artists includes George Benson, Chick Corea, Kurt Elling, Will Downing, Kenny G, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Sergio Mendes, Esperanza Spalding, Macy Gray, Angie Stone and many more. In 2007, Concord partnered with Starbucks Entertainment to form Hear Music, an innovative record label rooted in quality, authenticity and passion. Hear Music works directly with artists, both emerging and established, to bring quality music to the widest possible audience, in both Starbucks locations and music retailers worldwide. Hear Music releases include records from Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, John Mellencamp, Elvis Costello and Playing For Change.
Read discussion in the Bluegrass Blog
Source - No Depression
Ken Irwin of Rounder Records: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview
Listen to an mp3 of the 1:15 interview with Ken Irwin of Rounder Records from Well-Rounded Radio.
At a moment where what being a record label means is certainly in flux, Rounder Records is celebrating its 40th anniversary and, in many ways, showing what it means for artists who share a label and what that means to its customer and fans. Rounder Records also just announced that is has been bought by Concord Records.
Rounder Records was started in March 1970 by Ken Irwin, Marian Leighton-Levy, and Bill Nowlin (left to right). In our interview, Irwin tells us how the label came to be, and how they began with blues and bluegrass, and evolved the label to include folk, Cajun, Celtic, and reggae music.
Rounder also manages 18 subsidiary labels, including Heartbeat and Zoe Records.
As someone who knows a bit about bluegrass music, but wanted to learn more, I also ask Irwin to take us through the history of bluegrass.
Irwin kindly takes us through the history of bluegrass from Bill Monroe to Flatt & Scruggs to Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to Alison Krauss to Steve Martin.
From the Theme from Deliverance to Bonnie and Clyde to O Brother, Where Art Thou? to bluegrass festivals around the world, Irwin helps us to understand some landmark moments in the history of the form and why it’s thriving now more than ever.
There are, of course, a lot of great resources about bluegrass music online, including Wikipedia, DMOZ, International Bluegrass Music Association, Society for the Preservation Bluegrass Music of America, International Bluegrass Music Museum, Bluegrass Works, and iBluegrass.
There is also a terrific book about Bill Monroe by Da Capo Press, Can't You Hear Me Callin': The Life of Bill Monroe by Richard Smith.
From starting a record label because, as Irwin put its, “nobody told us we couldn’t” to winning a Grammy Award for Allison Krauss and Robert Plant’s Raising Sand collaboration, there are many lessons within Rounder’s story for musicians in 2010 and beyond.
In our next episode of Well-Rounded Radio, we’ll feature an interview I did with Scott Billington, the Vice President of A&R for Rounder Records with a focus on Cajun and zydeco music, much of which Billington has produced himself.
Rounder Records celebrated its 40th anniversary in March with a new concert CD and DVD, as well as a concert special on PBS. The concert featured Mary Chapin Carpenter, Minnie Driver, Bela Fleck, Allison Krauss and Robert Plant, Allison Krauss & Union Station with Jerry Douglas, Steve Martin, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas, Madeleine Peyroux, and Irma Thomas.
They’ve also just revamped their web site, rounder.com and there's a great book about Rounder, The Never-Ending Revival: Rounder Records and the Folk Alliance by Michael F. Scully.
I spoke with Irwin in Newburyport, Massachusetts to discuss
* why they started the label and how it has kept going
* how Rounder evolved through the years
* what some challenges are for roots music in the year 2010
Songs featured in the interview include:
1) J.D. Crowe and the New South: The Old Home Place
2) Alison Krauss and Robert Plant: Rich Woman
3) George Pegram: Mississippi Sawyer
4) George Pegram: Are You Washed in the Blood?
5) Joe Val: Along about Daybreak
6) Don Stover: Things in Life
7) Hazel Dickens: Hills of Home
8) Bill Monroe: Molly and Tenbrooks
9) Flatt & Scruggs: Go Home
10) MIke Seeger: The Memory of Your Smile
11) Bill Monroe: Blue Grass Breakdown
12) Jim & Jessee: Hard Hearted
13) Bill Monroe: Orange Blossom Special
14) Conne and Babe & The Backwood Boys: Home is Where The
15) The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: Will the Circle be Unbroken
16) Summertown Road: Summertown Road
17) Vern Williams: When Springtime Comes Again
18) Steve Martin: Late for School
19) Alison Krauss & Union Station: Every Time You Say Goodbye
20) J.D. Crowe & The New South: Long Journey Home
21) Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass: At the End of a Long Lonely Day
22) Whitstein Brothers: Arkansas
23) The Soggy Bottom Boys: I am a Man of Constant Sorrow
24) Laurie Lewis & Kathy Kallick: Is the Blue Moon Still Shining
25) Alison Krauss and Robert Plant: Gone Gone Gone
26) Jimmy Rogers with Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters: Left me with a Broken Heart
27) The Balfa Brothers: J'ai Vu Le Loup, Le Renard Et La Belette
28) Bela Fleck: Crossfire
29) Minnie Driver: Cold Dark River (Rounder Records 40th Anniversary Concert)
30) Irma Thomas: River is Waiting (Rounder Records 40th Anniversary Concert)
31) Sierra Hull: Secrets
32) James King: Leavin'
33) Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard: Montana Cowboy
34) James Hand: Don't Want Me Too
35) Marcia Ball: That's Enough of that Stuff