Monday, December 19, 2005

Concord Music buys classic Telarc

Concord Music Group, whose diverse roster includes Ray Charles, Sergio Mendes, John Fogerty and funk group Ozomatli, has acquired jazz, blues and classical label Telarc International.

Based in Cleveland, 28-year-old Telarc boasts a catalog of 1,000 titles, including recordings from the contemporary jazz and world music label Heads Up International, which joined the company in 2000.

Telarc's acts include traditional jazz performers Dave Brubeck, Ray Brown, Andre Previn and Oscar Peterson, singer-guitarist John Pizzarelli and Tierney Sutton and a number of classical artists and ensembles. Heads Up's roster includes contemporary jazz's Spyro Gyra, Najee, Michael Brecker and the Yellowjackets and world musicians Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Hugh Masekela.

Terms of the deal were not announced. Concord owners Norman Lear and Hal Gaba, along with investor Tailwind Capital Partners, supplied new equity capital to finance the acquisition, with additional financing from HSBC and JPMorgan Chase.

The Telarc acquisition caps a breakout 18 months for Beverly Hills-based Concord, heretofore best known for its jazz and traditional pop vocal releases.

In August 2004, Concord released "Genius Loves Company," the last album by Ray Charles. The collection, co-produced and extensively marketed by Starbucks' Hear Music division, enjoyed a Grammys sweep, including album of the year, in February and has sold more than 3.2 million copies in the U.S. to date.

In November 2004, Concord acquired Fantasy Records. The Berkeley, Calif., company's catalog included Creedence Clearwater Revival's best-selling titles and a vast storehouse of classic jazz titles, including the perennial Yuletide hit "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by Vince Guaraldi.

This summer, former Creedence frontman John Fogerty re-signed with Fantasy, ending years of estrangement from the label that released his biggest hits.

Concord president Glen Barros said the acquisition of Telarc had been in discussion for some time, and "was just meant to be."

Barros added, "They add a few more genres, in particular classical. They bring world music and blues. They expand the musical focus, and their music is the highest possible quality. They also expand our production capabilities."

Telarc president Bob Woods, who founded the company with partner Jack Renner in 1977, called the splicing of the labels "an incredibly great fit."

Woods continued, "We have two cultures that are very similar in many ways. We have a similar way of doing business, and we all have a mutual desire to develop secondary markets. . . . This is an opportunity to create a major independent company that keeps that turn-around-on-a-dime mentality and thinks outside the box."

By Chris Morris
Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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