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Rostrum Acquires MGMT, Bear Hands, Francis & the Lights Records with Cantora Catalog Purchase: Exclusive

The indie label is in expansion mode with three new signings, a distro deal with Caroline, a new recording studio and now a catalog deal.

Rostrum Records, the Los Angles-based, Pittsburgh-borne label best known for breaking Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa, has announced its acquisition of the Cantora Records catalog, which includes recordings by MGMT, Bear Hands and Francis and the Lights. The deal, Rostrum’s first since its founding in 2003, was for an undisclosed sum and gives it ownership rights to Cantora’s masters.

“Cantora is a perfect fit for us,” Rostrum founder and CEO Benjy Grinberg, 38, tells Billboard. “I love the music that’s on the label, it’s a reasonable size, and we have the capacity to be able to help.”

Cantora was founded in 2005 in New York by Will Griggs, Jesse Israel and Nick Panama, and released its first record that same year — MGMT’s debut EP Time to Pretend. The catalog also includes recordings by Gordon Voidwell, Violens, Zulu Pearl, Savoir Adore, Rumspringa, Emil & Friends and Young Buffalo.


“Over the last few years, our business has shifted focus to building entertainment ventures, from immersive live media to startup technologies,” Cantora’s Panama says in a statement. “It was time to find the right partner to carry on the label roster and continue to provide our artists with resources.”

“Because Wiz and Mac were our biggest selling artists, there’s always been this perception that we were only a hip-hop label, but we’ve always been very diverse with alternative, electronic, pop,  music, etc.,” says Grinberg. “This deal fits in great with us because we have bands like Donora, TeamMate and Mike Taylor, whose sounds overlap with Cantora and fit well with our catalog.”

Rostrum, which now has 13 employees and a roster that also includes The Bird and the Bee, Mod Sun, and Vali, has recently been in expansion mode. It recently opened a recording studio in Hollywood, its home as of two-and-a-half years ago. In August, Rostrum announced a deal with Capitol’s indie distribution arm Caroline and three new signings in Taylor, electro-pop trio Bråves and rising West Coast MC Juliann Alexander.


“We’re now starting to see the fruits of all our labor,” says Grinberg. “Bråves, who we absolutely love, are releasing a new video and song [today, Oct. 6] called “Me the Thief” and an EP coming out a little later; Juliann Alexander came out with two new singles [yesterday]; and Mike Taylor’s EP comes out later in October. We also have Mod Sun and TeamMate albums coming out soon. There’s a lot of stuff coming out that’s great and we’re really excited about.” 

These days, however, music may — understandably — not be foremost in Grinberg’s mind. “I’m in Pittsburgh awaiting the birth of my first child, who’s due in a week and a half,” he says. “It’s exciting times here.”