Record label gets funding boost from global music group, seeks bigger digs

From left: Spacebomb’s Cameron Ralston, Dean Christesen, Travis Robertson, Trey Pollard and Pinson Chanselle. (Jonathan Spiers)

In a deal spawned from a musical collaboration, a local record label is getting a funding infusion that will allow it to turn up the volume.

Shockoe Bottom-based Spacebomb, the indie label co-founded by singer-songwriter Matthew E. White in 2010, has received a seven-figure capital investment from New York-based Glassnote Entertainment Group affiliate Resolved Records that will be put toward artist signings, releases and artist development over a three-year period.

The deal calls for Resolved Records to provide financial, marketing and industry support to the label and its production, publishing and artist management arms, collectively known as Spacebomb Group.

Glassnote, whose artist roster includes Mumford & Sons and Phoenix, announced the investment last month. Financial details were not disclosed.

Spacebomb CEO Ben Baldwin said the deal allows the group to grow its local operations, sign more artists, produce more records and expand the reach and resources of its recording, publishing and production capabilities. It will also fuel growth for its Dreamboat Artist Management, the UK-based artist management company that Baldwin brought into the fold when he started managing White in 2012.

“We’ve grown organically over four or five years and got to the point where it was sustaining, but to grow, truthfully, we needed to sign a lot more artists,” said Baldwin, a UK native who splits his time between Richmond and Bristol, England.

“We were putting out a couple things a year and slowly finding publishing clients, but in this business, it’s a scale thing as well. So instead of adding two artists a year, we’re going to be able to add five or six a year and up our release ability from three or four things a year to 10 or 15.”

Baldwin said the deal also brings with it Glassnote founder and president Daniel Glass and general manager and CFO Chris Scully, who are now part of Spacebomb’s ownership team that includes Baldwin, White and fellow co-owners and musicians Dean Christesen, Jesse Medaries, Matt Rawls, Trey Pollard, Pinson Chanselle, Cameron Ralston and Travis Robertson.

“It gives us two partners in Daniel Glass and Chris Scully, who to some extent own the keys of the castle when it comes to being longstanding, incredibly respected and successful businesspeople in the music industry,” Baldwin said. “They can open doors for us that it would take us 10 years to get to.”

From left: Spacebomb and Glassnote reps Dean Christesen, Chris Scully, Matthew White, Ben Baldwin, Daniel Glass and Jesse Medaries. (Spacebomb)

In their announcement, Glass and Scully called Spacebomb unique in that it’s a record label that also has production capabilities and in-house musicians, called the Spacebomb House Band, consisting of the group’s owners. Glass likened the setup to legendary record labels Stax and Motown.

Scully added Thursday that Spacebomb’s varied business structure impressed Glassnote and made it an appealing investment.

“What we saw was this exquisite taste in how they did their music and operated and looked at the music business, and they had the foresight to be involved in all the multiple aspects of the business – to have a management company, a records company, a publishing company and their production group,” Scully said. “To us, it’s just spectacular what they’ve put together.”

While Baldwin said Glassnote already had Spacebomb in its orbit, eyeing its potential after launching Resolved Records as its investment arm in 2014, he said the partnership arose directly out of music, through the collaboration between White and Glassnote artist Flo Morrisey on a duets album recorded at Spacebomb and released earlier this year.

Baldwin said he approached Glassnote about putting out the record, as Spacebomb no longer represents White, who signed with London-based Domino Records after putting out his first album, “Big Inner,” with Spacebomb. Baldwin said the switch was due to the success of White’s debut, which drew critical acclaim and was selling many more records than the 5,000 that Spacebomb was able to put out.

“The reality was we didn’t have the resources or the weight or the finances to sustain putting the record out,” he said. “Domino came along and wanted to sign Matt and license the record, so we took that money, which was a good chunk of change at that point, selling the record off to Domino to kind of start Spacebomb properly.”

With a staff of eight today, Baldwin said the investment will allow Spacebomb to add five more employees over the next six months. It also will allow it to seek out bigger digs, as the company’s outgrown the 1,300-square-foot space it rents in the Haxall View complex at 11 S. 21st St.

The group is looking for a 6,500-square-foot space that Baldwin said would accommodate office space and a double control room studio that Spacebomb plans to develop with local studio Montrose Recording.

While he declined to disclose dollar figures, Baldwin described the capital investment as a “high seven-figure number” that the label will invest in “a significant number of new artist signings, releases and artist development over the next three years,” in addition to expanding Spacebomb’s artist management roster.

Prior to the investment, he said Spacebomb’s four companies collectively saw a 50 percent increase in annual revenue each year from 2014 to 2016.

Ralston, Pollard and Chanselle at work in Spacebomb’s studio. (Jonathan Spiers)

“It’s worth noting that Spacebomb is a Richmond-based company but now owns Dreamboat Management, a UK-based (private limited) company, and Spacebomb’s revenue and reach is very international,” Baldwin said, noting a recent company showcase revue the group put on in London with various artists, including White, performing with the Spacebomb House Band.

White, who’s wrapping up a 20-date UK tour, was unavailable Thursday to speak on the deal.

Glassnote’s Scully called the deal an investment in Richmond as much as in Spacebomb. He said the hope is for both to become destinations for artists much like cities like Detroit and New Orleans have in the past.

“Richmond has such rich history in music, and we think these guys in Spacebomb have really tapped into something,” he said. “We would love to be a part of watching that sort of rebirth of a great music company in the Richmond area.”

Spacebomb’s capital injection adds more fuel to Richmond’s busy music production scene, which includes the nearby In Your Ear Studios and Sound of Music Recording Studios in Scott’s Addition.

Last year, fellow indie label Egghunt Records, where local artist Lucy Dacus got her start, set up shop in branding agency Release the Hounds’ downtown space. Music studio Overcoast, which has its own UK connection, recently reopened its space in the downtown Gather building after enduring an office flood.

And for casual musicians, a local startup recently launched to establish Orbital Music Park, a collaborative practice space.

Note: This story has been revised to clarify that the seven-figure investment Spacebomb is receiving will be put toward artist signings, releases and artist development over a three-year period.

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G. Joseph Myers

don’t forget the recording studio, Diskus, I think, on Brookland Park Boulevard