Exceleration Music has struck an agreement with to acquire Bloodshot Records, the company announced Friday (Oct. 22) — just three days after co-founder Rob Miller announced Bloodshot was shutting down after 25 years.
Bloodshot Records was founded in Chicago in 1994 by Miller and Nan Warshaw and became a staple of Chicago’s music scene, releasing projects in genres from country, punk, gospel, bluegrass, R&B, blues, protest music and more. Among the artist that have recorded for the label are Ryan Adams, Neko Case, Justin Townes Earle, Robbie Fulks, Jon Langford, Lydia Loveless and more. Sources say the label usually does about $2.5 million annually, but that has decreased in recent years.
Exceleration Music is an investment venture founded earlier this year by former Concord Music Group CEO Glen Barros, former Concord Records president John Burk, former Merlin CEO Charles Caldas, former INgrooves general manager Amy Dietz and former Epitaph Records general manager Dave Hansen to invest in indie labels.
With the new deal in place, Exceleration will own Bloodshot Records and its catalog, and will assume full operational control of the label as well as all aspects of distributing and managing the catalog. A statement from Exceleration also noted plans to launch a long-term campaign to revitalize the availability of the Bloodshot catalog digitally and physically.
In January, Exceleration invested in legendary Chicago label Alligator Records, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Exceleration also previously acquired the jazz label Candid Records and partnered with the Ray Charles Foundation, launching the recent True Genius box set.
“Bloodshot is a vitally important part of American music history, a genre-defining label founded on passion and vision, dedicated to bringing a unique set of artists from its musical orbit to the world,” says Exceleration partner Hansen. “It represents exactly the kind of company that fits Exceleration’s founding ethos, which is to preserve and enhance the legacies of extraordinary independent companies and artists. We are honored to have the chance to work with the music from Bloodshot’s artists, to make sure the future interests of those artists are protected. We look forward to working to keep the Bloodshot history alive and relevant for many years to come.”
Laurens Kusters, representative of the Justin Townes Earle estate, added, “We are happy to see that the team at Exceleration Music, a team that includes people I’ve known and worked with for over two decades, has taken ownership of the label, safeguarding its catalog and artists en-route to a prosperous future.”
Alligator Records founder Bruce Iglauer adds, “Alligator Records joined forces with Exceleration Music at the beginning of this year. I had known Glen Barros, Dave Hansen and Charles Caldas for many years, and knew them to be people of great integrity and commitment to independent labels and independent music. Since the agreement was finalized, Exceleration has honored every detail of the contract. In addition, they have given Alligator a great deal of support with new approaches to marketing and distribution that are already helping the label and our artists grow. They are very proud of what the label has meant for so many years, and happy to support us continuing down the path we set out on. It’s been a very happy and mutually beneficial partnership, and we are looking forward to working with them to carry Alligator, our artists and the music we love into the future.”
The Exceleration news comes days after Miller posted a letter on the Bloodshot Records website announcing his departure from the label he helped launch 25 years ago, and that the Bloodshot Records offices had been shut down. Over the past few years, Bloodshot Records has gone through well-documented legal battles stemming from irreconcilable differences between co-founders Miller and Warshaw, including allegations of incomplete financial accounting, resulting in monies owed to Bloodshot artists.
A statement from Exceleration says, “Since those articles were printed, great progress has been made to catch up on royalty obligations. Exceleration’s team is working with members of the Bloodshot team to make sure that commitments are honoured. That is an important part of the transition process. We are working to ensure that no artist will be left in the cold and that no obligations are left outstanding.”