Exceleration Music has formed a strategic partnership with the pioneering founders of Rounder Records for a new venture, Down The Road.
The partnership brings together the expertise of the original leadership team who founded Rounder Records in 1970—Ken Irwin, Marian Leighton Levy and Bill Nowlin, along with the label’s first and long-standing President/CEO John Virant—with Exceleration Music’s partners and leadership team. Irwin, Levy, Nowlin and Virant led Rounder Records together for 40 years, steering their roster to over 40 Grammy wins during that time.
Exceleration Music is a company formed by global music industry leaders Glen Barros (former CEO of Concord Music Group), John Burk (Grammy-winning producer and former president of Concord Records), Amy Dietz (former GM of Ingrooves), Charles Caldas (former CEO of Merlin) and Dave Hansen (Executive Chairman of Merlin and former GM of Epitaph), to invest in the future of independent labels and artists. Established in 2020, Exceleration offers personalized solutions to entrepreneurs seeking capital to achieve growth as well as those trying to achieve liquidity or an honorable exit.
The new venture, called Down The Road, will focus on the historic depth and breadth of Americana music, including releases from banjo master Tony Trischka (with a lead single featuring Billy Strings), 21-time IBMA-winning bluegrass group Blue Highway and Dervish, the leading contemporary performers of Irish traditional music. The label will also reissue 14 catalog titles produced by the Rounder Records co-founders in recent years.
“Ken, Marian, Bill and John epitomize what it means to be an indie,” says Exceleration’s Barros. “They have always followed their heart and instincts in recording what they know and love. This formula led to many hundreds of culturally important and often incredibly successful recordings. And while doing this, they’ve also continually supported the indie and musical communities in which they work. We are so grateful that they’re joining the Exceleration family and very much look forward to helping them build upon their incredible legacy.”
“Glen, John, Amy, Dave and Charles are building a visionary and critical organization for independent labels and their artists,” shares Rounder Records’ Virant. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to join them and the rest of the Exceleration team. We intend to continue our tradition of nurturing and supporting artists based in roots music traditions of the past into the future.”
For Exceleration Music, the announcement follows news of a substantial expansion as they acquied leading independent distribution and music services company Redeye, as well as Yep Roc and Sundazed (Redeye’s in-house labels), and Redeye’s publishing company Riff City Sounds. Redeye will distribute Down The Road, alongside their ongoing relationships with several of the world’s top independent labels including Beggars Group, Domino, New West and Saddle Creek. Company founders Glenn Dicker and Tor Hansen are both former employees of Rounder Records, working under Irwin, Levy, Nowlin and Virant before founding Redeye in 1996.
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