News January 15, 2021

Charles Caldas involved in new global venture investing in indie sector

Charles Caldas involved in new global venture investing in indie sector

Aussie expat and long-time global activist for independent music, Charles Caldas, is involved in a new venture to invest in the independent sector.

Caldas was founding CEO of indies’ digital licensing association Merlin and, before that, CEO of Shock Records based in Melbourne.

The London-based executive is one of five partners in Exceleration Music, set up to invest in the global independent music sector.

Also involved are Glen Barros, former CEO of Concord Music Group, who started the company; Dave Hansen, executive chairman of Merlin and previous GM of Epitaph Records; Amy Dietz, previously GM of independent music distribution leader Ingrooves; and John Burk, Grammy-winning producer and former president of Concord Records.

They said in a statement: “Backed by substantial investment capital… Exceleration plans to leverage its partners’ extensive expertise and deep understanding of the independent music culture to make tailored investments in independent music rights and the individuals that create them.

“In doing so, Exceleration will offer personalised solutions to entrepreneurs seeking capital to achieve growth as well as those trying to achieve liquidity or an honourable exit which preserves and enhances the legacies of both the entrepreneurs and their artists alike.”

Its first investment is in 50-year old Chicago-based blues and roots label Alligator Records. Its founder Bruce Iglauer will continue to handle A&R, artist signings, new release production, project marketing, publicity, and promotion, while Exceleration handles financial, operational, and administrative functions for the label.

Later this year Exceleration will relaunch US-based jazz, blues, Latin and world music label Candid Records, and work with The Ray Charles Foundation to release the late soul legend’s catalogue on digital.

Caldas said: “As the digital music market continues to evolve into a more global, diverse market, one where artists and genres are crossing borders in unprecedented ways, having the opportunity to work such an impressive group of respected colleagues to build a new, future-focused company is an exciting opportunity.

“We are aligned in our deep values and ambitions to contribute to preserving a healthy independent sector. I look forward to playing a part in growing this company into a valuable and important part of our worldwide sector in the years to come.”

In Australia, Caldas spent nine of his 16 years in CEO roles and served on the AIR and ARIA boards.

He then moved to London where, under his watch, Merlin grew to represent 20,000 labels and distributors from 66 countries, and struck ground-breaking deals with key digital services as Spotify, YouTube and Pandora. By the time he left the association in 2019, it paid out over $2.5 billion to its members.

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