Secretly congratulates Phoebe Bridgers (Dead Oceans) and Bonny Light Horseman(37d03d), who today earned a collective 6 GRAMMY nominations in an array of categories including Best New Artist, Best Alternative Album, Best Rock Song, Best Rock Performance, Best Folk Album and Best American Roots Performance. Ghostly International also received a nomination for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package for The Story of Ghostly International, and Jagjaguwar artists Bon Iver and Unknown Mortal Orchestra appear on songs up for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance - Taylor Swift's "exile" (feat. Bon Iver) - and Best Progressive R&B Album - Free Nationals' Free Nationals.
The achievements cap a landmark year for the international, independent and groundbreaking music ecosystem, whose industry-shaping output and operations uphold the principle that the most important cultural contributions come from artists and the small to medium-sized businesses that support them. The company - which consists of Secretly Group record labels Dead Oceans, Jagjaguwar and Secretly Canadian, Ghostly International, The Numero Group, 37d03d, Secretly Publishing, Secretly Distribution and a global network of 140 employees - has addressed the adversities of 2020 by launching ambitious new projects and partnerships, instituting actionable change, and innovating new ways to champion the creative voices they represent.
From Dead Oceans' release of career-changing albums by Bright Eyes, Phoebe Bridgers and Khruangbin, to Jagjaguwar's visionary rollout of Moses Sumney's masterful double-LP and timely new music from Angel Olsen and Bon Iver, to Secretly Canadian's introduction of the Mercury Prize-nominated Porridge Radio and excavation of an unreleased Jason Molina album, Secretly Group supported a multitude of 2020's most critically-acclaimed releases, while continuing on a trajectory of pathbreaking growth.
While Secretly has always been committed to amplifying the voices of music creators as the true leaders driving their company and the industry at large, these past months have seen Secretly Group take their vertical approach to artist relations to new levels of innovation and collaboration. Phoebe Bridgers launched her own label, Saddest Factory, via Dead Oceans. Over the summer, Dead Oceans, Jagjaguwar and Secretly Canadian all came together to launch Friends Of, an ongoing series of single, EP and LP releases that provide the platform and infrastructure to promote artists outside of their roster, and the rapid way in which music is being created and shared during the pandemic. The inaugural lineup has included Bullion, Junglepussy, Routine (Annie Truscott & Jay Som), Ryan Hemsworth and more that will run through next year.
Secretly also announced a new strategic partnership with Ghostly this year. Under the new deal, both the record label Ghostly International and publisher Ghostly Songsbecame Secretly affiliates, with Ghostly Songs administered through Secretly Publishing. Ghostly International founder Sam Valenti IV became a managing partner of Secretly, as Secretly Group owners Ben Swanson, Chris Swanson, Darius Van Arman, and Phil Waldorf became partners in Ghostly International's music operations. Ghostly finished a strong 2020 by releasing albums from DRAMA, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Mary Lattimore and TOBACCO, as well as producing five Ghostly Knowledge Share educational broadcasts, streamed live on Twitch.
A flurry of catalogs were acquired by The Numero Group in 2020, including the masters and publishing of Chicago soul stalwart Syl Johnson and jazz-fusion pioneer Lenny White. Additional 2020 properties include Dick Sutphen's long-running new age and meditation label Valley of the Sun, Youngstown, Ohio's soul and doo-wop powerhouse Tammy Records, and England's Reflection Records and V4Visions. Finally, a worldwide joint venture with Blondie and Universal Music Group was struck to reissue the band's first six albums, multiple box sets, and other assorted curios from their legendary 1974-1982 run.
37d03d was born of the gatherings and artist-in-residencies created by Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner. Joined by Bryce Dessner and recently partnering with the Secretly Group to formalize label operations and provide a platform to release collaborations, 37d03d continues the artist collective mission as an experience based label. This steadily growing group of artists, freely creating and sharing their work, is perhaps best personified by Bonny Light Horseman who were invited as individuals to the 2018 residency in Berlin, and left as a band. Their debut full-length received two Grammy Nominations (Best Folk Album, Best American Roots Performance for "Deep in Love"). 2020 was an exciting, inaugural year for the label with releases from Naeem, Mina Tindle, Shara Nova and Gaby Moreno, and a Pieta Brown project created at the last 37d03d event before the lockdown, HIVER in Eau Claire, WI. Founder Aaron Dessner also collaborated with Michael Stipe for "No Time For Love Like Now," produced Eve Owen's debut album for the label, and co-produced Taylor Swift's heralded Folklore album.
Secretly Publishing has experienced a historic 60% growth in revenue and a 50% increase in repertoire in 2020. Focusing on diverse, world-building artists and left-of-center Black voices, they signed new deals with Brad Cook, Corbin Canvas, Esther Rose, Jay Som, Kenneth Whalum, Heno., Molchat Doma, NNAMDÏ, and many others. Most recently, Secretly Publishing and Fort William Artist Management announced the signing of worldwide administration deals with Beirut, Dehd, Grizzly Bear and The War on Drugs.
Despite a challenging year with many productions coming to a standstill due to the pandemic, Secretly's sync team secured placements in advertising campaigns for brands including Dos Equis, Procter & Gamble, Sephora, Visa, Volvo and more, plus syncs for several film trailers, including Netflix's remake of the Hitchcock classic Rebecca and Ramin Bahrani's film adaptation of The White Tiger. Music by Secretly artists also appeared in dozens of television shows, including HBO's Run, NCIS: Los Angeles and Hulu's High Fidelity remake. Recent music supervision work includes the Netflix original film All The Bright Places, FX series A Teacher, USA series Dare Me, feature film The Last Shift, and the Sundance award-winning documentary feature Feels Good Man.
Secretly Distribution proved that indie labels are stronger when they collaborate, share knowledge, and collectively uplift the trailblazing artists they love. In a virtual series of label summits, they delivered over 50 of their distributed record label partners - including Asthmatic Kitty, Sacred Bones, Captured Tracks, Colemine, Run For Cover and more - workshops on the ways to support inclusion, diversity, and allyship, and also topics like Metadata Optimization and Neighboring Rights. In 2020, the company also brought on new label partners like Awful, Bar/None, Danger Collective, Father/Daughter, Nyege Nyege Tapes, Rhymesayers and PAN. They grew their artist services division, working on a diverse group of management-lead projects from Crumb, Portugal. The Man, War on Drugs, Beirut, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Yaeji, while leading successful release campaigns for Aesop Rock, Bonny Light Horseman, El Michels Affair, Kelly Lee Owens, Molchat Doma, Phoebe Bridgers and Sufjan Stevens.
Throughout 2020, Secretly expanded its commitment towards social equity, justice and inclusion via sponsorships, charitable donations and the support of fundraising initiatives led by artist partners. Secretly worked with SHIFT - an organization building a critical understanding of race, power and privilege in the workplace - to provide allyship workshops to staff, including training managers and distributed label partners. Secretly Group passed through its share of digital sales to artists across every Bandcamp Friday, with almost $250,000 passing through to artists on those days. Secretly artists, in turn, donated nearly $200,000 to charity across various fundraising singles and collections.
Major initiatives include releases by Phoebe Bridgers benefiting Stacey Abrams' Fair Fight organization, the Downtown Women's Center in Los Angeles, and bail funds; Bon Iver supporting Direct Relief and multiple organizations working to celebrate and support our humanity on a local, national, and global level; Bright Eyes, Angel Olsen, Kevin Morby, Phoebe Bridgers, and Secretly Group supporting the Village of Love benefit for Planned Parenthood; and Rhymesayers, Justin Vernon and the Bon Iver family, and Secretly Group partners joining together to donate $30,000 to support multiple organization in the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Heading into 2021, both Jagjaguwar and Secretly Canadian are preparing a number of new initiatives and special releases to mark their respective 25th anniversaries.