Crozet-based music merchandising company Musictoday has been snapped up by San Francisco e-commerce firm Delivery Agent, and while locals are mum on the deal, the CEO of Musictoday’s new parent company says the buy will mean growth and jobs in Charlottesville and Albemarle.
Musictoday was founded in 2000 by Charlottesville’s Coran Capshaw, the Dave Matthews Band manager who had launched Red Light Management nine years before. Capshaw’s Red Light client list also includes big names like Tim McGraw and Phish, and his relationship with a deep roster of artists helped secure the early success of Musictoday as a merchandising and ticketing offshoot.
It also attracted the attention of Live Nation. The concert and promotions giant bought Musictoday in 2006, allowing it to stay in its Crozet offices. Capshaw told Billboard at the time he intended to still be hands-on with the company, and it appears that hasn’t changed.
“Coran has been extremely helpful to me personally in understanding the space to help us navigate how to get this deal done,” said Delivery Agent CEO Mike Fitzsimmons.
Fitzsimmons, a Virginia native and Hampden-Sydney alum who once worked for a subsidiary of CNET, a startup founded by former Charlottesville resident Halsey Minor, said Delivery Agent got its start with an online storefront where NBC viewers could log in and buy products they saw on shows like “Will & Grace” and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” Now it powers the online stores for some of the world’s biggest TV entertainment groups, including CBS, Fox, HBO, Showtime, and dozens of others.
The company is growing and developing new ways for people to buy, Fitzsimmons said, including mobile- and remote control-enabled purchasing. At the same time, it’s been eyeing other areas of expansion.
“One of the obvious ones was the music space,” he said—picture direct-buying tunes with your TV remote while watching the Grammys or with your phone while using a video app. Delivery Agent has already been partnering with Musictoday to develop that technology, Fitzsimmons said, and the Crozet company comes with some powerful assets: an experienced team, warehouse and shipping space, and, of course, its deep client list.
Fitzsimmons said his company intends to expand Musictoday here in Albemarle and Charlottesville. Delivery Agent is absorbing Musictoday’s “employee base” of 144 employees, a company rep said, and it’s leasing penthouse space in the Capshaw-owned building at the northwest corner of Fourth St. NE and East Main St. in downtown Charlottesville, with an eye toward hiring 30 to 40 more people.
What’s not clear is what will happen to the ticketing arm of Musictoday. Fitzsimmons confirmed that Delivery Agent is only spinning off the merchandising and e-commerce side of the company, which would leave at least some of the operations in Crozet in Live Nation’s hands.
Neither Live Nation nor Musictoday would comment on the deal, and calls and e-mails to Red Light Management for comment went unanswered.
But Fitzsimmons was clear that he intends to grow the tech side of the local music industry. “One of the things that’s really important for us is to now be able to attract more talent to the group,” he said.