The Orchard Acquires Blind Pig Records Catalog

Muddy Waters performs on June 12, 1979 in Chicago.
Paul Natkin/WireImage

Muddy Waters performs on June 12, 1979 in Chicago.

The Orchard has acquired the master recording catalog of indie blues label Blind Pig Records, which includes albums by Muddy Waters, Magic Slim, Popa Chubby, Charlie Musselwhite, Bill Perry, James Cotton, and Otis Clay.

In addition, the deal includes five new albums to be released in 2015 from Albert Cummings; the Cash Box Kings; Victor Wainwright; Zac Harmon; and Andy T & Nick Nixon, which the Orchard will release in conjunction with Blind Pig Records principals and the team remaining going forward.

While terms of the deal were not disclosed, Orchard executives said they funded the acquisition through cash-flow.

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The Orchard, one of the largest independent distributors in the world, "will continue to have distribution sales and marketing for third party clients as its primary business," says Orchard chief operating officer Colleen Theis. "But from time to time, when the opportunity presents itself, we will purchase assets. We understand the value of owning intellectual property."

Doing deals with labels like Blind Pig helps the Orchard to "unlock strategic and financial growth opportunities for the companies and our clients," Theis said in a statement.

Besides potential increased profit margins, ownership of master recordings also provides the Orchard with the chance to test new strategies and business initiatives, she adds.

The Blind Pig catalog acquisition is part of a strategy that will see the company pursue catalog acquisitions. As such, the company has started a new catalog division headed by Scott Ambrose Reilly, who previously worked at X5 Music, Amazon, and eMusic, among other stints in the industry.

While this is not the first time the Orchard has bought catalogs -- it also owns some TVT catalogs; Frenchkiss Records, Discos Joey Records, Xanadu Records, and JDub Records -- the new division will work specifically to acquire and rejuvinate and repackage catalogs.

In addition to the 38-year history of Blind Pig Records, "Having access to this historic Blues catalog and being able to continue to work with and learn from veterans such as [Blind Pig co-founder Jerry Del Giudice and Blind Pig co-founder and president Edward Chmelewski] is a win/win for everyone," Reilly said in a statement. "This model of buying catalogs with continued involvement from label founders will be a bright spot in our business over the next several years."

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Reilly says the Orchard is flexible on its acquisition business model. "Some owners want to sell and be done while other owners may like to stay involved,"  Reilly says. "We have a plan to work with Blind Pig for the albums coming out in 2015." After that, the two parties will discuss whether the future holds further collaborations or whether the two parties will go their separate ways.

The Orchard "continues to develop successful business models for digital distribution that will give our artists the exposure they need in this new music market," Del Giudice said in a statement. "The worldwide reach that The Orchard has achieved will benefit our artists and their music immensely, both today and in the years to come."


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