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Concord Continues Acquisition Binge with Fearless Records, Wind-Up Deals (Exclusive)

The deals adds about 150 albums from Fearless and about 25-30 albums from Wind-Up to the company's portfolio.

Concord Bicycle Music continues its acquisition spree by buying in separate deals Fearless Records and the rest of Wind-up Records, giving the company more than $140 million in annual revenue. Terms of the deals with the two rock labels were not disclosed.

The deals adds about 150 albums from Fearless and about 25-30 albums from Wind-up to the company’s portfolio that already consisted of about 10,000 albums and a music publishing catalog with 60,000 songs. In addition, the Fearless acquisition also includes Fearless Records’ Fearmore Music Publishing, which includes the evergreen copyright “Hey There Delilah,” along with the company’s highly successful in-house merchandise operation.  

Last month, Concord acquired the Vanguard and Sugar Hill record catalogs. 

The principals of both labels in the current deal, Wind-up president/CEO Ed Vetri and Fearless Records founder and president Bob Becker will remain a part of Concord with their labels and staffs for the most part intact, while leveraging radio promotion, synchronization, sales, and back-office from Concord.

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For Concord, the deals fortify its excursion in the rock genre, according to Concord Music Group CEO Glen Barros. “The addition of Wind-up and Fearless illustrates our commitment to expand within the rock genre, a process which we began over the last couple of years,” Barros said. “Both of these labels have demonstrated long-term success and are true leaders in their field.”

While Concord started out life as a jazz label, it diversified into mainstream rock through its Hear Music and eventually released albums by such artists as Paul McCartney, Carole King and James Taylor. Concord also partnered with Tom Whalley’s Loma Vista; while Bicycle Music acquired Nitro Records. 

In addition to rock and jazz, Concord Bicycle has a strong blues and soul music through its long ago acquisition of Fantasy, Stax, VeeJay Records, and some Delicious Vinyl catalog; and more recently Vanguard. Concord also has representation in classical through its acquisition of Telarc; and Americana, country and bluegrass through its acquisition of Rounder Records and the previously mentioned Sugar Hill Records.

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Its presence in those genres was boosted by Bicycle Music acquisition, which includes part of the TVT catalog, VeeJay Records, and some albums from the Original Sound Entertainment catalog and some from the Delicious Vinyl catalog.

According to sources, Concord Bicycle paid about $10 million for Fearless, which has about $15 million in annual revenue including a nice merchandising business and a small publishing catalog. The label’s catalog including albums by Plain White T’s, At The Drive-In, Bigwig, The Aquabats, and Sugarcult, while its current artist roster includes Pierce The Veil, Breathe Carolina, The Maine, Mayday Parade, The Word Alive, Motionless In White, Alesana, and Every Avenue. Fearless is expected to issue about 15 albums in the current year.

The deal to sell Fearless allows the label to maintain its indie spirit, while providing tools to build its brand, Becker said. 

“I believe this deal is right for our artists, our staff and brand and will only make things better for our company to do better things across the board,” he adds.

Moreover Becker pointed out in a statement that, “Fearless has had many opportunities to be acquired by larger companies over the years and it had never seemed like the right fit, until now.”

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Meanwhile, Wind-up had annual revenue of under $1 million last year, but the label has a healthy release schedule this year that includes about a dozen releases. The label sold off catalog albums by Creed, Evanescence, Seether and Alter Bridge to Bicycle Music in October 2013, which was about 18 months ahead of the Bicycle Concord Merger in April 2015.

The Wind-Up roster includes Aranda, Civil Twilight, Filter, Five for Fighting, Genevieve, James Durbin, Jillette Johnson, Scott Stapp, Strange Talk, the Darkness, the Griswolds, the Virginmarys, Young Guns, Crobot and the Revivalists.

Vetri says that evolution of the marketplace into streaming has placed a tremendous administrative burden on labels trying to be transparent while accounting for multiple levels of streaming data.

“This deal with Concord gives us the ability to focus on signing, nurturing and marketing artist and their music while the Concord infrastructure takes away allot of the responsibilities that were proving to be too burdensome to handle,” Vetri says.

Moreover Vetri added in a statement, “I have been working closely with the executive management at Concord over the last few years. It’s clear they are dedicated to building a major independent music company, one that benefits independent labels and their artists.” Betri says the deal positions Wind-up to break new alternative and rock artists over the next several years.

The acquisitions were led by Concord Bicycle Music chief corporate development office Steve Salm who says that if you take a step back, the two acquired labels “are true 100% indie-owned, run by two guys who have done so well financially on their own. 

“You realize that will a little more support you can take two companies like that that are profitable to begin with and supercharge them by giving them the recourses  they need to help them realize their full potential,” Salm says.