Alliance Entertainment Corp. (Specimen)

Alliance Entertainment Corp. (Specimen)
Item# 4286alliance

Joseph Bianco (whose printed signature appears on this piece) incorporated Alliance Entertainment in October 1990 and completed his first acquisition the following month when he acquired Jerry Bassin Inc., operator of $60-million-in-sales Bassin Distributors, a Miami, Florida-based distributor of record labels. Established in 1981, Bassin distributed more than 125 lines of recordings through sales offices in New York, Dallas, and Miami, including such labels as Concord Jazz (which Alliance would later acquire), Cheetah, Disney, Syndrome, Select, and Newtown Music. To finance the acquisition of Bassin and the next several acquisitions to follow, Bianco relied on venture capitalists and borrowed money from Cigna, Bankers Trust, and Chase Manhattan Bank, giving his fledgling company the financial backing to begin its march toward becoming a national distributor.

Bianco's next acquisitive move was completed in late 1992 when Alliance purchased Denver, Colorado-based Encore Distributors Inc. With sales offices in Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, and on the West Coast, Encore Distributors operated as an independent distributor that was also involved in selling merchandise to alternative markets such as lifestyle shops and independent bookstores. Distributing roughly 250 labels and accessories, including Alligator, Fantasy, Higher Octave, Grateful Dead, and Oh Boy, Encore Distributors carried Alliance into new geographic markets and together with Bassin provided Bianco's New York-based Alliance Entertainment with a distribution network whose scope was widening to cover the country. Though Bassin and Encore Distributors were operated as separate entities, industry pundits were beginning to speculate that together the two companies represented the foundation for one national distribution network. Within the next two years, Bianco's strategic moves would create a national distribution network, one that would rank as the largest in the United States.

Sales by the end of 1993 amounted to $200.5 million, a total that would more than double by the end of the next year after an acquisition spree orchestrated by Bianco left his company standing alone as the country's largest wholesaler and distributor of music recordings. On the acquisition front, in February 1994 Alliance Entertainment purchased Abbey Road Distributors, a one-stop music wholesaler. Next, the company acquired a clutch of companies that diversified its business domestically and extended Alliance Entertainment's presence overseas. For $3.8 million, Alliance Entertainment picked up Premier Artists Services, Inc., a talent agency that handled the careers of Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, and other acts; Disquemusic, a Brazilian wholesaler of budget and independent labels in Latin America; and Fiebra Latina, a Latin-American distributor.

Midway through 1994 the company announced its next acquisition, a deal that signaled Alliance Entertainment's move into the music software catalog business where profit margins were higher than in the company's core business area of independent distribution. In late July, Alliance Entertainment submitted a bid to acquire London-based Castle Communications plc, an owner and licenser of pre-recorded audio and video products whose recordings included albums by the Kinks, Motorhead, Black Sabbath, and Uriah Heep. Although a majority of Castle's $51 million in revenues were derived from catalog sales, the company also had some artists under contract, including Ireland's Energy Orchard, Stiff Little Fingers, and the Buzzcocks.

The acquisition of Castle, which was completed in September for $38.5 million, marked the beginning of Alliance Entertainment's strategy to acquire recording labels, a move that added another facet to the company's mainstay distribution business. Another recording label was added before 1994 was through when Alliance Entertainment acquired the Concord Jazz Label, an independent label founded by Carl Jefferson, who established the label after staging the first Concord Jazz Festival in the Northern California town of Concord in 1969. When Alliance Entertainment acquired the label in December 1994, Concord Jazz had more than 500 titles in its catalog, another 130 master recordings yet to be marketed as albums, and a roster of recording artists under contract that included Mel Torme, Rosemary Clooney, Hank Jones, and Pancho Sanchez.

By the end of 1994, Alliance Entertainment was supported by two recording labels--Castle and Concord Jazz--the distribution of music-related merchandise, including T-shirts, baseball caps, videocassettes, and laser discs, and a strong international business, particularly in Brazil. The heart of the company, however, was its distribution business. Alliance Entertainment operated three massive warehouses in California, Florida, and Connecticut through which the company served its two distinct types of customers. One group included the scores of independent record stores scattered across the country that lacked the financial resources to purchase their merchandise in bulk. The other group of Alliance Entertainment's customers looked to the New York-based distributor in times of emergency. When the customers patronizing large record-store chains such as Musicland Stores Corp. and Trans World Music Corp. exhausted the supply of particular recordings, the large chains turned to Alliance Entertainment for the quick delivery of replacements and Alliance Entertainment, in turn, charged a markup of 10 percent of wholesale for its services.

In August 1996, Alliance Entertainment acquired Red Ant Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based record label whose principal owners included former MCA Music Entertainment Group chairman and chief executive officer Al Teller and the merchant banking firm of Wasserstein Perella. A recently-formed music enterprise when Alliance Entertainment acquired it, Red Ant was in the process of contracting a list of alternative, urban contemporary, and country artists in late 1996, but perhaps its greatest asset was its management. Under the terms of the agreement that ceded ownership of Red Ant to Alliance Entertainment, Teller was to become co-chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Alliance Entertainment.

Close Up of Vignette

Certificate: Common Stock, specimen, late 1900s

Printer: American Bank Note Company

Dimensions: 8 (h) x 12 (w)

State: NY-New York

Subject Matter: Sports and Entertainment | Music and Related | Specimen Pieces

Vignette Topic(s): Allegorical Featured | Allegorical Orpheus

Condition: No fold lines, punch hole cancels in the signature areas and body, very crisp.

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