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Rounder Records (1970)

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Rounder Records, originally of Cambridge, Massachusetts, but now based in Burlington, Massachusetts, is a record label founded in 1970 by Ken Irwin, Bill Nowlin and Marian Leighton-Levy, while all three were still university students. It once served as a major distributor and central sales location for other independent labels specializing in roots music, at one point representing as many as 450 other labels. In the 1990s, though, the company cut back on the distribution effort in order to focus on its own productions. In the early 2000s, shortly after the merger of the PolyGram and MCA label families, Rounder signed a manufacturing and distribution deal with Universal Music, which also purchased an interest in the label.

Starting with blues, blues-rock, string band, and bluegrass, Rounder expanded to over 3,000 titles of folk, soul, soca, Cajun, and Celtic. The name was chosen partly because of its association with the band Holy Modal Rounders. The word rounder also means a hobo or tramp. One of their earliest successes was the blues-rock band George Thorogood and the Destroyers.

One of the label's projects is the Alan Lomax Collection, a series of releases of the work of the pioneering ethnomusiclogist and folklorist.

Among Rounder's artists, bluegrass superstar Alison Krauss was offered a number of major label deals following her commercial breakthrough in the late 1990s, but Krauss opted to remain with Rounder.
Rounder was one of the very first labels to become involved with compact discs, in 1985. In 2004, the company launched a book division known as Rounder Books.

Rounder formed a children's music division called Rounder Kids in the 90s, distributing soundtracks of the popular PBS Kids series Arthur. It's current label roster is the Canadian children's entertainer Raffi Cavoukian.

In 2010, Rounder was purchased by the Concord Music Group. It will continue to be distributed by Universal, as all of Concord has a distribution deal with UMG.


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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Rounder Records", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.