Concord Acquires Legendary Punk Label Victory Records

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Micah Carli and JT Woodruff of Hawthorne Heights perform at Revolution on Sept. 22, 2014 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 

Growing indie powerhouse Concord continues to gobble up independent music labels with its acquisition of Victory Records, the Chicago-based punk and emo label founded by Tony Brummel in 1989. As part of the deal, Concord has also acquired Brummel's Another Victory Publishing catalog too. 

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but Billboard estimates that the Victory company had $4.5 million-$5 million a year in revenue and further estimates that Concord paid somewhere in the range of $27 million-$34 million for the Victory company. 

"Concord is a market leader across rock genres in both new releases and catalog," Concord''s chief business development officer Steve Salm said in a statement. "Tony's dedication to Victory and the development of talent within these rock genres of metal, emo and hardcore as a true independent operator is incredibly admirable and he's made a very significant impact in that world."

In buying Victory, which has broken such bands as Taking Back Sunday, Bayside, Thursday, Hawthorne Heights, and Silverstein, Concord picks up 4,500 masters and 3,500 compositions to add to the 16,000 albums and 390,000 compositions it now owns through past past acquisitions. According to Victory, that catalog has picked up six RIAA certified Gold albums, six RIAA certified Gold singles, one RIAA certified platinum single, two BPI certified silver albums and one Canada Music Canada certified Gold album; and combined sales from all artists on the label has sold over 15,000,000 albums over the last 30 years.

As part of the deal, Concord will get the Victory name and Bulldog logo.

"Concord has a great team, infrastructure and the financial backing and support to do great things with the music and entertainment assets that they represent," Brummel said in a statement. "Victory and Another Victory's great catalog of music and songs will be in caring and fantastic hands going forward. We've had a great run and with Concord it will only continue."

The deal brings the entire Victory catalog under one roof as Concord had already bought the catalog of about five of the Victory bands, including Taking Back Sunday, a couple of years ago. In addition to the catalog, Concord will also be getting the active rosters of the Victory label and publishing company. "Concord very much look forward to being the next creative managers of the Victory masters and publishing catalogs as well as insuring all of the artists that have been part of Victory feel very much at home at Concord," Salm said in a statement, adding in a phone interview, "Our entire Concord creative team will engage in in conversations with the active rosters of [Victory] writers and recording artists."

The Victory catalog will go under Concord's Craft Recordings catalog team and "to the extent that we put out new albums from existing artists, Fearless is the most likely home" to market such albums, Salm says. 

Meanwhile, Victory’s 30-person staff will remain employed by Brummel, who sources say has a "limited" non-compete clause that will allow him to pursue opportunities in the music business going forward, if he so chooses. The staff will work on Brummel's other businesses which includes a third-party merch business, plus some real estate and other investments. Also, they will be involved in assisting with on-boarding Victory's catalog and royalty payments onto Concord's platform over the next few months.

"My team at Victory will be remaining intact as we embark, going forward, on our new and existing business journeys," Brummel said in a statement. The new name of the company has yet to be announced.

In addition to keeping his finger on the pulse of punk, hardcore, and emo music genres, Brummel and his team paid a lot of attention to how they marketed music, creating Victory and its very recognizable bulldog logo into one of the most recognizable brands in music. "I truly believe that being insulated in Chicago, we started doing things our own way and developed marketing schemes that other labels weren't doing," Brummel says.

Since 2006, Salm and the Concord team have made nearly 200 acquisitions, including buying one of the bigger indie music publishers in Imagem; many single artists catalogs; and about 25 record labels building Concord into a company that now generates about $450 million in revenue annually, divided almost evenly between music publishing and recorded music. While initially more interested in acquiring music publishing assets, a few years back Concord started aggressively buying up record labels and has made about 20 such acquisitions, including the TVT catalog, Original Sound Records, the Delicious Vinyl catalog, Hightone Records, Fearless Records, Razor & Tie, Musart, Fania, Independiente Records, Nitro, Time Bomb, Rounder, Vee Jay, Sugar Hill, Vanguard, Savoy, Varese Sarabande, and some of the Parlophone catalog.

"While the broader market (and over-zealous new entrants) have all moved in the same direction, bidding publishing catalogs north of 20 times net publishers' share, Concord has been differentiating itself by building the biggest independent recorded music catalog and infrastructure with over 20 A-level acquisitions since 2007," Salm says.

While Brummel is keeping his third-party merch business, Concord will get the merch rights for the bands that have a contract covering that asset."We are building out our merch business as we acquire more rights over time," Salm said.

"With the backing of the same main institutional investor [​Barings Alternative Investments] with a very long investment horizon, Concord will stay the course and be as aggressive as it has always been," Salm said. While Salm says that Victory is a good example of the acquisitions it likes to make — buying companies that have both recorded music and publishing catalog — he says the company will continue to look across its three main areas, "record labels, songwriters and theatrical assets and sometimes they intertwine."

Like Salm, Brummel declined to talk about sale pricing or Billboard’s estimate, but he did say that he recognized that the recorded music business is enjoying really good times now with valuations running very strong. "With the valuation and the multiple Concord gave me, every one of my business advisors, my lawyer, my accounting firm, every single person told me to do the deal," Brummel says. "I love my bands but I realized that with where multiples are right now [for music catalogs] I have to be realistic. This time with music assets selling at these type of multiples may never happen again."

Brummel said he wasn’t shopping the label around, but Concord’s offer was too good to refuse.

"Doing the deal is going to give me the option to do other things, including possibly buying some smaller labels," Brummel says. "There are three things that I will invest in out of the box and they are all music related.”

Besides, Concord's staff "are very friendly, and smart people with a lot of money, backing them" so Brummel said he felt comfortable making a deal with them. "Everything with Concord is very straight forward and easy to deal with," he says. "They have real music lovers there."


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