In the jazz and blues recording industry, there could hardly be bigger news if Louis Armstrong, Robert Johnson, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday and Miles Davis returned from the dead and put on a free show in Central Park.
Concord Records and Fantasy announced yesterday that Concord has completed its acquisition of Fantasy and has merged the two companies to form a new entity called the Concord Music Group, Inc. Concord Records is 31-year-old label focused on jazz, traditional pop and adult contemporary formats with a catalog of over 1,000 albums from such figures as Ray Brown, Charlie Byrd, Rosemary Clooney, Herb Ellis, Stan Getz, Tito Puente, and Mel Torme. Concord is currently enjoying its greatest success ever with the platinum release of Ray Charles’s final recording, Genius Loves Company, as well as popular records by Barry Manilow, Peter Cincotti, and Ozomatli.
Fantasy owns outrageously outstanding catalogs of jazz, blues, soul, rock ‘n’ roll, and spoken word including legendary recordings by John Coltrane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, Vince Guaraldi, Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Staple Singers, Little Richard, Albert King, Thelonious Monk, Joe Pass, Art Pepper, Sonny Rollins, Lenny Bruce, Jimmy Scott, and numerous others via its own sterling recording history and its acquisition over the years of the Prestige, Milestone, Riverside, Contemporary, Debut, Pablo, Specialty, Stax, Original Jazz Classics, Takoma and Kicking Mule catalogs. Fantasy also owns and operates the world-class Fantasy Recording Studios in Berkeley, California.
As part of the transaction, Tailwind Capital Partners, a private equity investment firm focused on media, provided new equity capital to the Concord Music Group. Chris Morris reports in the Hollywood Reporter that the sale price was over $80 million. The owners of Concord Records, TV producer Norman Lear and Hal Gaba, remain substantial shareholders in the combined entity, which will be distributed by Universal.
Ralph Kaffel, President of Fantasy, said, “Having spent fifty years in the record business, 33 of them at Fantasy building up the catalogs, my primary concern as well as that of the other principals, was that the acquiring entity should have the proper understanding and respect for the treasure that we are turning over to them, and be willing to perpetuate the historical legacy these catalogs represent. With Norman, Hal, Glen Barros and all the other talented people now at the helm at the Concord Music Group, my colleagues and I are convinced the Fantasy catalog is in very good hands.”
Glen Barros, President and CEO at Concord, and now president and chief executive officer of the Concord Music Group, said “I am incredibly honored to be in a position to help carry the Fantasy legacy into the future. I am so enthusiastic about this merger, about working with the talented professionals involved from both sides, and the great opportunities for the combined companies going forward.”
Barros also told Morris that Concord and Fantasy will consolidate over time, but will “in all likelihood be based in both Berkeley and L.A.”