MVD Entertainment Group and Gotham Distribution Corp. Join Forces to Form Old School Ventures

MVD Entertainment Group and Gotham Distribution Corp. have formed Old School Ventures, a new entity formed between the companies to run, service and administrate the music and film consumer direct business, Oldies.com. 

Old School Ventures will operate out of MVD’s headquarters in Pottstown, Pa., and will be headed up by industry veteran Joe Buesgen, who has been VP of marketing at Oldies.com since 2000.  

“With the combined expertise and resources of MVD and Gotham, we are well-positioned to take Oldies.com to the next level and continue to innovate in the industry,” Buesgen said in a statement. “This partnership represents a great opportunity to leverage our strengths and provide our customers with the best possible experience.”  
 
MVD, founded in 1986, is a full-service music and movie distribution firm, exclusively representing a catalog of audio and visual products for DVD, Blu-ray, CD, vinyl and digital rights, worldwide. Ed Seaman and Eve Edwards are co-CEOs of MVD.

“MVD has been working with Gotham & Collectables closely for the last 20-plus years and we know them very well; this opportunity to be in business with the Greene family is an honor,” Seaman said in a statement. “We are very optimistic about the future of collectible physical media, and together we are going to make a great team.” 

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Founded in 1980 by Nina Greene, Jerry Greene and Melissa Greene-Anderson, Gotham Distributing Corp. is a music and movie distribution company based in West Conshohocken, Pa. Over the past two decades, their Oldies.com division has grown into one of the largest music and movie consumer-direct catalog and e-commerce companies in the United States. Gotham is also the home of Collectables Records, a reissue record label established in 1980, and Alpha Video, an entertainment company that specializes in the manufacturing and marketing of classic movies and TV shows on DVD.  

“After the sale of our iconic warehouse along the Blue Route, we realized that it was time to explore other options and partnerships that could help us continue to grow and serve our customers,” Jerry Greene said in a statement. “The formation of Old School Ventures with MVD Entertainment Group is a perfect example of how we are leveraging our strengths and resources to take Oldies.com to new heights. We are excited about this new chapter in our company’s history and look forward to working closely with our partners to build a bright future for the music and movie consumer-direct business.” 

Operations transfer to the new entity Old School Ventures on March 29.  

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.”

Music Doc ‘Where Are You, Jay Bennett?’ Due on Blu-ray April 19, DVD With Vinyl Albums April 23 From MVD

The feature-length documentary Where Are You, Jay Bennett?, on the renown multi-instrumentalist and recording studio savant, will have its Blu-ray Disc and pay-per-view release on April 19 from MVD Entertainment Group.

Four days later on April 23, it will have a “Record Store Day” release featuring the film on DVD along with Bennett’s last two albums Kicking at the Perfumed Air and Whatever Happened I Apologize available for the first time on vinyl.

As a member of Wilco, Bennett was a large part of the genius behind their three seminal albums. He joined the band prior to the recording of their second album Being There and subsequently co-wrote most of Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot with Jeff Tweedy (and has been called the sonic architect of both albums). Bennett was also instrumental in the recording of the Mermaid Avenue/Woody Guthrie sessions with Billy Bragg, and went on to a critically acclaimed solo career before dying tragically at the age of 45.

Directors Gorman Bechard and Fred Uhter use a mixture of audio interviews with Bennett, never-before-seen performance footage, animation, and extensive interviews with those who knew him best to give an account of the artist’s life. The offers a look at the other side of the narrative that had been created in the media once Bennett had been asked to leave the band.

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“At the time of his firing, Jay’s behavior was cast in a negative light. But there are always two sides to every story,” Bechard said in a statement. “In this film, we show just how instrumental Jay was to Wilco’s brilliance. How Bennett and Tweedy together truly were one of the greatest collaborative teams in rock history, but also how they were both perfectionists who needed to push boundaries. Ultimately, that was simply not sustainable in a band setting.”

The film, funded completely through KickStarter, is an insight into a piece of American musical history exploring Bennett’s life, his influences, his art, his obsessions, his vices, music, recording, and Wilco and their unfortunate split.

“The animation by Ed Gendron brings to life these amazing interviews with Jay,” Uhter said in a statement. “To be able to hear his voice, to have Jay himself tell his side of the story, talk about how records were made, and what role he played, it’s a priceless piece of music history.”

Bechard is the filmmaker behind 2011’s Color Me Obsessed, a Film About the Replacements.

Retail Icon Tower Records Returns as Online Store

Packaged-media retail icon Tower Records is back in (e)-business — 14 years after declaring bankruptcy and shuttering 200 physical stores in 2006. The Sacramento, Calif.-based retailer, which launched in 1960 in the iconic Tower Records building on Broadway by the late Russ Solomon who died in 2018 at the age of 92, will now market vinyl records, merchandise and cassettes online only.

Russ Solomon

The chain is bringing back its Tower Pulse! music magazine (in digital form), with plans to launch pop-up Tower Records shops (once the pandemic is controlled), and host artist events online.

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“[The launch] has been met with tremendous success, feedback,” new CEO Danny Zeijdel said in a statement. “A lot of people are so happy taking pictures of when they receive an order from Tower Records, posting it on Instagram.”

RIAA: Physical Record Sales Topped Digital Downloads in 2017

In a twist, sales of old-school music records in 2017 bested digital downloads for the first time since 2011, according to year-end data released March 22 by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Shipments of physical product decreased 4% to $1.5 billion compared to 2016 – a lower rate of decline than in recent years. Sales digital downloads fell 25% to $1.3 billion.

Vinyl continues to be a bright spot among physical formats, with sales up 10% to $395 million. Shipments of music CDs continued to decline, falling 6% to $1.1 billion. Revenue from shipments of physical product made up 17% of the industry total. Sales of track downloads fell 25%, and digital album sales decreased 24% versus 2016.

The aforementioned stats – however appealing to traditionalists – pales in comparison to the industry’s 800 lb. gorilla: subscription streaming.

More than 80% of total music revenue in 2017 was generated by digital platforms and services.

Streaming music services generated $5.7 billion in revenue. Paid music subscriptions drove the bulk of that — exceeding $4 billion for the first time — and now represent the largest recorded music format by value.

“More than any other creative industry, music companies successfully transformed themselves ahead of the transition to streaming, all while forging stronger relationships with their most important partner: the artist,” RIAA CEO Cary Sherman said in a statement.

Sherman cautioned that growth in music sales has only returned the industry to 60% of its peak 18 years ago. At the same time, he said the burgeoning streaming business inadequately compensates artists.

 “We continue to operate in a distorted marketplace, replete with indefensible gaps in core rights, inhibiting investment in music and depriving recording artists and songwriters of the royalties they deserve,” Sherman said.

The executive said Congress appears ready to pass updated reforms – dubbed “Classics Act” – aimed at better compensating artists at a market-based standard rate. Under current law, legacy artists who recorded music prior to 1972 are not guaranteed royalties when their music is played on digital radio.

“The proposed legislation would ensure that all recordings are treated the same,” Sherman said.