Bloodshot Records Sold to Independent Investor Exceleration Music, New Owners Promise to Honor Outstanding Artist Royalties

IRVING PARK – A few days after its co-founder left the company, Bloodshot Records was acquired by an investment group led by a group of independent label veterans.

Exceleration Music announced on Friday that it now has full operational control of Bloodshot Records and its catalog, and has promised to pay the artists the exceptional royalties owed to them.

Bloodshot co-founder Rob Miller announced on Monday that he was leaving the label amid a public battle with former business partner and co-founder Nan Warshaw.

In a report, Warshaw said they considered various scenarios to continue Bloodshot without her, including the sale of her stake to Miller, but ultimately backed the sale to Exceleration.

Warshaw added that Bloodshot has worked with the Exceleration team for about a decade and that they are the “independent leaders” best able to “carry the artistically rich heritage of Bloodshot”.

“Fortunately, Exceleration can provide our artists with a creative path, breathe new life into their catalog and provide them with meaningful opportunities,” said Warshaw.

Miller did not respond to a request for comment.

Credit: Alex V. Hernandez / Block Club Chicago
Rob Miller, owner of Bloodshot Records, in the label’s window at 3039 W. Irving Park Rd.

Excelation Music was based earlier this year by former Concord Music Group CEO Glen Barros; Dave Hansen, former Managing Director of Epitaph Records and Executive Chairman of Merlin; Charles Caldas, the first CEO of Merlin; Amy Dietz, previously Managing Director of Ingrooves and John Burk, former President of Concord Records.

Representatives declined to say how much they paid to purchase Bloodshot.

Hansen said in a press release that Bloodshot is a “vital part of American musical history”.

“This represents exactly the type of business that aligns with Exceleration’s founding ethic, which is to preserve and enhance the legacy of extraordinary companies and independent artists,” Hansen said in a statement. “We are honored to have the chance to work with the music of the artists of Bloodshot, to ensure that the future interests of these artists are protected. We look forward to working to keep the story of Bloodshot alive and relevant for many years to come. “

The management of Exceleration said in its announcement that it plans to work with the Bloodshot team to honor royalty commitments throughout the transition and “to ensure that no artist will be left in the cold and that no obligation will be left hanging.

“First and foremost, we want to add value to the catalog, make sure it is optimized and visible across the market and that revenues are maximized, both in physical and digital markets”, Exceleration executives said in a statement.

Exceleration plans to make the Chicago label’s previously released music more easily accessible, but any new release from the label is complicated by the fallout from the public legal battle between Miller and Warshaw. The new owners said it was “too early” to say when the new music would be released under the Bloodshot banner.

“There is a lot of work to be done at this point to right the ship and stabilize the operation. Once that is done, we intend to speak to the artists to determine how we can work with them to ensure that their work is represented in the market as effectively and powerfully as possible, ”Exceleration executives said in a statement. .

William Elliott Whitmore, a musician who released “I’m With You” via Bloodshot in 2020, praised the news of the acquisition.

“I am both happy and relieved to learn that the Bloodshot Catalog has fallen into the hands of independent individuals who have a long history of researching artist interests,” said Whitmore.

The unresolved legal issues between Miller and Warshaw previously led to other Bloodshot artists, as Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, sign with other labels to release new music.

After Miller announced he was stepping down, giving little clue about Bloodshot’s future, the group tweeted they wanted clear answers about what would happen to their masters and those of other artists.

Kathie Russell, the group’s manager, told The Block Club on Friday that the group has known someone has been trying to buy Bloodshot for some time.

“Bloodshot has been functionally unusable for some time. We continued to get paid, but the staff were mostly gone and there were only a few key people left. You would have to be stupid not to see the writing on the wall. We left as a direct result of what was going on between Rob and Nan, ”said Russell.

It was not until Friday that Exceleration sent an email to the group announcing their acquisition. Russell told the new owners that the band is now signed to another label and that his main concern is making sure the band continues to get paid properly for their first two albums that Bloodshot owns.

“They didn’t break our contract. Our masters are part of the Bloodshot catalog and our concern is that we get paid for them, period. That’s all we care about, ”said Russell.

Bloodshot Records was started in a Wrigleyville basement in 1993 by Miller, Warshaw and Eric Babcock. The three founders wanted their new label to focus on indie rock, punk rock and alternative country infused with roots, then expanded to include neo-Soul and garage rock groups.

Babcock left the label in 1997 and founded Catamount Records, based in Nashville, Tennessee. Warshaw withdrew from the label in 2019 after musician Lydia Loveless years of alleged harassment by Chicago musician Mark Panick, domestic partner of Warshaw.

Founded on artist-friendly principles and a decidedly DIY mindset, the label began by supporting innovative artists. Many of them have become extremely influential, including Jon Langford, the Waco Brothers, the Old 97s, Neko Case, the Sadies, Alejandro Escovedo and Robbie Fulks.

A diverse mix of indie acts followed, including Whitmore, Justin Townes Earle, The Bottle Rockets, Laura Jane Grace, Wayne Hancock, Kelly Hogan, Andre Williams, Bobby Bare Jr., Ha Ha Tonka, Luke Winslow-King, Lydia Loveless , Sarah Shook, Cory Branan, Graham Parker, Scott H. Biram and Murder by Death.

“The team behind Exceleration Music brings to the table a level of experience and integrity that is much needed right now. I look forward to working with them to protect and create new opportunities on the catalog that Lydia Loveless has with the label, ”said Howard Greynolds, Director at Overcoat Management who represents Loveless, Glen Hansard and Iron & Wine.

RELATED: Bloodshot Records Celebrates 25th Anniversary With New Compilation Album

Bloodshot joins a growing list of companies Exceleration has invested in or partnered with, including Alligator Records, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Exceleration also bought jazz label Candid Records and partnered with the Ray Charles Foundation, with which they launched the recent True Genius box set and digital campaign.

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