Alliance Doubles Down on Disc Business to Fill Void Left by Ingram Exit

The Blu-ray Disc and DVD marketplace took a big hit when — on the eve of the fourth quarter — major distributor Ingram Entertainment announced it would exit the business.

Alliance Entertainment executives say their company is filling that void, stepping up in the wake of the announcement.

The company has added business from many key accounts, some new to Alliance and some who have shared business between the distributors.  These accounts include Baker & Taylor, Walmart.com, Bluestem, Vintage Stock, Hallmark (franchise stores), Bull Moose, Zia, and Diabolik, amongst others.  Additional work continues to onboard other key accounts via the e-commerce and grocery channels.

“There will also be some gains with accounts that we had previously shared with Ingram, such as Hot Topic, Urban Outfitters and Rarewaves,” says Carlos Franca, VP, ecommerce sales and operations.

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The goal has been to ensure that there is no interruption of service to retail partners during the fourth quarter and to pave the way for strong, ongoing relationships with all involved, executives say.

Alliance’s Distribution Solutions division, who sold home media products directly to Ingram, pivoted immediately to assist the Alliance sales teams in securing accounts quickly.  “Our previous knowledge and direct relationships with many on Ingram’s account base helped prioritize and insure account coverage during Q4,” says Kevin Quigley, senior director of sales for Distribution Solutions.

Alliance’s broad reach across numerous classes of trade gave these accounts an immediate and reliable solution, executives say. These classes of trade include ecommerce, independent retail, grocery/general merchandise, and specialty shops.  Within hours of Ingram’s closing announcement, the Alliance Entertainment sales team began to contact and secure business from these stranded accounts, ensuring they had stock on the shelves for Q4, credit lines secured, data and EDI feeds linked, and more. Alliance sprang into action and was able to normalize business for most of these accounts before Oct. 31, when Ingram largely stopped shipping to their account base.

“Alliance stepped in, to secure key accounts from all parts of the business, including movies, music and video games,” adds Ken Glaser, Alliance SVP of sales. “We have aligned with our studio, publisher, and label partners to ensure nothing is left behind. Additionally, we’ve been able to hire some Ingram account managers to help ensure a smooth transition and continue to maintain a high level of service for these accounts.”

“We continue to work closely with these customers, many with which we have previous relationships with, serving other parts of their business. Many customers will benefit from our larger breadth of inventory, especially those aligning on the ecommerce front.”

 

Annual Music Biz Conference Tilts Toward Streaming as Paid Subscriptions Dominate Music Sales

NASHVILLE — The annual Music Biz Conference concludes May 18 after a three-day run. And like other recent entertainment trade shows, most notably NAB, the conference hosted by the Music Business Association (formerly the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, or NARM) tilted heavily toward streaming.

A research presentation asked, “Where Do We Go From Here?” Another presentation, the provocatively titled “Are You Getting All Your Streaming Money,” was sponsored by The Mechanical Licensing Collective and provided information “on how songwriters, composers, lyricists, and music publishers can collect all of their streaming money,” according to the conference’s program.

While streaming has only dominated home entertainment for less than a decade — disc sales alone were higher than subscription streaming revenue as recently as 2015, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group estimates — the digital revolution toppled the traditional music sales business in the early 2000s. Record companies killed the single, the longtime sampling mechanism for new music, at the height of the CD boom because it cost the same to press a CD single as an entire album. That, then, led consumers to swap digital song files over the Internet through sites such as Napster. The record companies responded by raising the list price of CDs and suing their customers, and that’s when all hell broke loose.

Today, the music industry, much like home entertainment, is dominated by streaming. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), consumer spending on recorded music reached a high of $15.9 billion last year, 84% of which came from streaming. In home entertainment, according to the latest DEG estimates, streaming accounts for a similar percentage, 86%.

And, in another parallel, streaming growth has leveled off, with consumer spending rising just 7% to $13.3 billion, $10.2 billion of which came from paid subscriptions and the rest from ad revenue, digital radio, fitness apps and other sources.

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Unlike home entertainment, however, where physical media sales continue to fall, the music industry for several years has seen a resurgence, particularly in vinyl record sales.

In 2022, according to the RIAA, total physical revenue rose 4% from the prior year to $1.7 billion. Vinyl record sales grew 17% to $1.2 billion and for the first time since 1987 consumers bought more vinyl records (41 million) than CDs (33 million). CD revenue, on the other hand, slipped 18% to $483 million after a gain during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crime Thriller ‘Shackled’ Due Digitally May 9 From Distribution Solutions

The crime thriller Shackled will be release digitally May 9 from Distribution Solutions.

In the film, a young woman wakes to find herself chained to the bed of an abandoned pickup truck alone in the vastness of the California desert with no memory of the events that brought her to such a state. She’s been left with only a half-empty bottle of gin, a CB radio, and a gun with two bullets. Her captor’s identity, motive, and plans for her are a mystery — one she’ll need every ounce of her fading strength and every fibre of her fraying sanity to solve. 

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Directed by Joss Refauvelet (The Long Hollywood Night, Lovers in a Dangerous Time), the film stars Monique Rosario (Remembering Sarah), Jennifer Ball (Something Good Coming, Lovers in a Dangerous Time), Dan Franklin (Mantra, The Haunted Man) and Tyler Cole (Lovers in a Dangerous Time, Falling Sons).

Horror Title ‘Infinity Pool’ Due on DVD and Blu-ray April 11 from Distribution Solutions

The horror mystery Infinity Pool will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc April 11 from Decal/Neon Films and Distribution Solutions.

In the film, while staying at an isolated island resort, James (Alexander Skarsgard) and Em (Cleopatra Coleman) are enjoying a perfect vacation of pristine beaches, exceptional staff and soaking up the sun. But guided by the seductive and mysterious Gabi (Mia Goth), they venture outside the resort grounds and find themselves in a culture filled with violence, hedonism, and untold horror. A tragic accident leaves them facing a zero-tolerance policy for crime: either you’ll be executed, or, if you’re rich enough to afford it, you can watch yourself die instead.

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Alliance Entertainment Changes Wall Street Ticker Symbols

Home entertainment distributor Alliance Entertainment Holding Corp., parent of Mill Creek Entertainment and Distribution Solutions, March 20 announced that the company’s Wall Street common stock and warrants ticker symbols have changed to “AENT” and “AENTW,” respectively.

Concurrent with the ticker change, the company’s trading name will change from “Adara Acquisition Corp.” to “Alliance Entertainment Holding Corp.”

Last month, Alliance completed its merger with Adara Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition corporation that helps companies go public.

“Moving to a new stock ticker and trading name now aligns with our corporate identity and enhances our visibility with investors and provides consistent recognition across all our stakeholders,” Bruce Ogilvie, chairman of Alliance Entertainment, said in a statement.

Jim Gaffigan and Mike Birbiglia Stand-Up Double Features on DVD March 28 From Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment will release two comedy double features from Comedy Dynamics — Jim Gaffigan Stand-Up Spotlight and Mike Birbiglia Stand-Up Spotlight — on DVD March 28. 

Gaffigan is a six-time Grammy nominated comedian, actor, writer, producer, two-time New York Times best-selling author, three-time Emmy winning top touring performer, and multi-platinum-selling recording artist. He is also known for the children’s films Luca and Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation and makes regular guest appearances on the TV shows “Rick and Morty” and “Bob’s Burgers.” Included in the double feature are the comedy specials “Noble Ape” and “Quality Time.” “Noble Ape” is his sixth hour-long comedy special, in which Gaffigan steers away from the conventional as he faced a medical crisis that hit his family. “Quality Time” is  his seventh comedy special, in which he doesn’t understand why we aren’t more honest about the reasons we don’t want to attend events and at the same time embraces lying to kids.

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Birbiglia is an award-winning stand-up comedian, actor, storyteller, director, producer and writer. He has appeared in the TV shows “Orange Is the New Black,” ‘Broad City,” “Billions” and “Inside Amy Schumer,” and recently appeared in Taylor Swift’s 2022 “Anti-Hero” music video. The longtime comedian has been nominated for numerous comedy and film awards, winning at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Sundance Film Festival and Nantucket Film Festival. The stand-up specials on the DVD include “What I Should Have Said Was Nothing” and “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend.” “What I Should Have Said Was Nothing” features a selection of the unique insights and observations culled from Birbiglia’s diary. In “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend,” Birbiglia shares a lifetime of romantic blunders and misunderstandings.

Faith-Based Family Drama ‘An Unlikely Angel’ Due on Digital and DVD March 21 From Mill Creek

The faith-based family drama An Unlikely Angel is headed to digital and DVD March 21 from Pinnacle Peak Pictures and Mill Creek Entertainment.

The film follows Janie Caswell, successful, married and very pregnant, who is about to have it all — career, family, success — when she is blindsided by a vehicle and wakes up six years in the future where “having it all” is not what she expected. Will the chance meeting with an angel be an answer to her prayers?

An Unlikely Angel stars Jillian Murray (Code Black, Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero), Sam J. Jones (Ted, Flash Gordon) and Aaron Mees (All Is Calm, Christmas in the Pines) and is directed by Durrell Nelson. 

The film spent two months as the No. 1 film on PureFlix after its initial launch. 

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Korean Crime Drama ‘Broker’ Due on Blu-ray Feb. 21 From Distribution Solutions and Decal

The Korean comedic crime drama Broker is headed to Blu-ray Disc Feb. 21 from Decal Releasing, Neon and Distribution Solutions.

In the film, two brokers who sell orphaned infants circumvent the bureaucracy of legal adoption. After an infant’s mother surprises the duo by returning to ensure her child finds a good home, the three embark on a journey to find the right couple.

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Broker stars Song Kang-ho (Parasite, Snowpiercer, The King’s Letters), Dong-won Gang (Peninsula, Master, Golden Slumber), Doona Bae (Cloud Atlas, “The Silent Sea”  TV series, “Stranger” TV series) and Lee Ji-eun (Hotel Del Luna, Dream, “Shades of My Heart” TV series).

Distributor Alliance Entertainment Completes Adara Merger

Home entertainment distributor Alliance Entertainment Holding Corp. has completed its merger with Adara Acquisition Corp.

The business combination was approved at a meeting of Adara’s shareholders on Jan. 18, 2023.

Alliance Entertainment (which is the parent of Mill Creek Entertainment and Distribution Solutions) distributes music, movies, consumer electronics, compact discs, collectibles, vinyl LP records, DVDs, Blu-rays and video games.

Beginning Feb. 13, 2023, Alliance Entertainment’s shares and warrants will be quoted on the OTC under the ticker symbols “ADRA” and “ADRA WS,” respectively. Concurrent with Alliance Entertainment’s OTC quotation, Adara Acquisition Corp. has been delisted from the NYSE American. Alliance Entertainment also intends to seek to list on the Nasdaq Capital Market, according to a press release.

Chairman Bruce Ogilvie and CEO Jeff Walker will continue to lead the combined company, along with its current management team.

This transaction values Alliance Entertainment at approximately $480 million. As a public company, Alliance expects to be able to make further investment in growth, including automating facilities, upgrading proprietary software. Management believes the transaction also positions the company “to drive inorganic growth through a roll-up strategy of acquiring and integrating competitors and complementary businesses,” according to the release.

“We believe that today’s milestone combined with our strong revenue growth, expanding customer base and product offering, and several successful acquisitions, will help accelerate our future expansion initiatives,” Jeff Walker, CEO of Alliance Entertainment, said in a statement. “Alliance Entertainment today is well positioned to continue to capitalize on shifts towards e-commerce and omni-channel strategies, especially with retailers and manufacturers vastly increased reliance on their DTC (direct to consumer) fulfillment and distribution partners. We are at an inflection point that now positions us to execute a multi-prong growth strategy that we expect will deliver a double-digit revenue growth rate with strong cash generation to the bottom line.”

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“This business combination will further enable our significant focus on a strategic roll-up strategy of acquiring and integrating competitors and complementary businesses which we believe will drive an accelerated competitive position and value creation,” Bruce Ogilvie, chairman of Alliance Entertainment, said in a statement. “Combined with further investment including automating facilities and upgrading proprietary software, we are confident we can grow revenue and expand margins. In this next phase of our development, we expect to see growth from enhancing our DTC relationships to grow existing revenue lines and improving capabilities which will generate a more attractive overall service offering. We will also continue to expand into new consumer product segments, growing our product offering and providing more to our existing customer base while attracting new customers in the process.”

“We congratulate Alliance Entertainment on today’s accomplishment and look forward to their continued evolution as a leading DTC and eCommerce provider for the entertainment industry,” Tom Finke, CEO and chairman of Adara Acquisition Corp., said in a statement. “We are confident Alliance Entertainment will provide shareholders with a diversified investment alternative as one of the largest physical media and entertainment product distributors in the world. We believe their expanding use of automation technology to further impact efficiency, cost and capacity for future growth will deliver long-term value. We look forward to collaborating with Alliance Entertainment as they strategically position the company to achieve its growth objectives.”

Family Faith Drama ‘Running the Bases’ Headed to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 21

The family faith drama Running the Bases will be released on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc and DVD Feb. 21 from Mill Creek Entertainment and Distribution Solutions.

In the film, when a small-town baseball coach gets the offer of a lifetime from a larger 6A high school, he uproots his family and leaves the only home he’s ever known. But as a man of faith, he soon faces extreme opposition to his coaching methods from the school superintendent.

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The film stars Brett Varvel (The War Within, Miracle on Christmas, American Underdog), Gigi Orsillo (Hope for the Holidays, Still PitchingPursuit of Freedom), Todd Terry (“Breaking Bad,” “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Better Call Saul”) and Cameron Arnett (I Still Believe, Overcomer, and “Star Trek: The Next Generation”).