Jeff Castelaz out in shakeup at Dangerbird Records; Jenni Sperandeo named label chief by Peter Walker


Jeff Castelaz, the co-founder of Dangerbird Records and a major presence on L.A. music scene since the label began in 2004, is leaving the imprint.

A major shakeup at the Silver Lake-based label will see co-founder Peter Walker [pictured performing with his band Eulogies] assume control of Dangerbird. Jenni Sperandeo – who as head of promotion guided campaigns for Silversun Pickups and Fitz & the Tantrums – has been elevated to president of the label and publishing company.

Multiple sources outside the company, who wish to remain anonymous, say that Castelaz is in line to assume a prominent role at a major label, and that one of Dangerbird’s marquee acts, Fitz & the Tantrums, could depart to a major as early as next week. FATT has a new album completed and ready for release in early 2013.

Neither Castelaz nor Walker was available for comment, a representative said. Several management representatives of artists on the label also declined to comment.

In recent weeks, rumors have swirled that Dangerbird might be sold, but sources say the potential buyer backed off. The label found early success in Silversun Pickups’ ascent, and more recently with Fitz (whose debut has sold 140,000 copies), but Dangerbird’s roller-coaster performance, fluctuating staff size and shifting strategies (i.e., aligning with mid-career indie artists instead of cultivating new talent) have puzzled observers. In an L.A. Times story two years ago, Castelaz championed the indie model, but as many have found, indies are as susceptible to market forces as larger companies.

Dangerbird general manager Matt Solodky is departing as well. The press release reports that the Castelaz and Solodky will focus on Castelaz’s management roster, which will re-launch under Cast Management, with clients including Dropkick Murphys and producers Tony Hoffer, Justin Meldal-Johnsen and Jacquire King. Cast Management had been folded into Dangerbird a few years ago.

Said Sperandeo, in the press release: “After nearly 20 years in radio promotion, management and artist development, I am thrilled for the opportunity to step into this more comprehensive role at a rare, artist-driven enterprise.”

“This is a great move for everybody involved,” Walker said. “Dangerbird has always been about finding and nurturing great artists, and with Jenni’s talents leading the charge, the company’s future is brighter than ever.”

One source close the company lauded Sperandeo’s promotion. “In terms of what they have out and what they have coming, they shouldn’t miss a beat,” the source said.

Dangerbird’s most recent releases have been new albums from Sea Wolf and Minus the Bear. The roster also includes Grammy-winning Jesse Harris, along with Beady Eye, Ben Lee, Boots Electric, Butch Walker and the Black Widows, Eulogies, Fitz & the Tantrums, Guineafowl, JJAMZ, Maritime, the One AM Radio, Richie Sambora, Royal Teeth and Silversun Pickups.

Photo by Kristy Sparow