Claude VonStroke’s Dirtybird Label Acquired By EMPIRE

Indie label, distributor and publisher EMPIRE has acquired tastemaking electronic label Dirtybird, the imprint founded by producer Claude VonStroke in 2005.

Per the terms of the deal, EMPIRE now owns the entirety of the Dirtybird brand, outside of Dirtybird’s live events including its annual Dirtybird campout. The deal includes Dirtybird’s back catalog and all future releases, with EMPIRE also now handling distribution and publishing for the San Francisco based imprint. A representative for EMPIRE declined to disclose financial details of the deal.

VonStroke, born Barclay Crenshaw, will continue to A&R the San Francisco-based Dirtybird label and also direct creative for Dirtybird apparel.


The sale marks the first foray into the electronic music space for EMPIRE, a San Francisco-based multi-hyphenate music company founded by Ghazi in 2010. The company has offices in New York, Nashville, the UK and the Middle East and has worked extensively in the hip-hop, Latin, country, R&B and Afrobeats, helping build the careers of artists including Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, XXXTentacion and Fireboy DML.

“Growing up in San Francisco and the Bay Area at large, dance music has always been a huge part of our music scene,” says EMPIRE CEO and Founder Ghazi. “EMPIRE at its core is a company that is for the culture. Dirtybird embodies the independent ethos and understands the cultural nuance of everything San Francisco and dance music.”

“I’m so excited to join another incredible independent Bay Area music company,” says Crenshaw, also the CEO of Dirtybird. “I will continue to A&R the Dirtybird label and direct the creative for the music and clothing, while EMPIRE has the capacity and resources to grow the brand globally. This is a dream come true.”

Since it’s 2005 launch, Dirtybird has become one of the United States’ leading independent electronic labels, helping develop and popularize the underground house and tech-house genres via releases by VonStroke and the cadre of Dirtybird artists including Justin and Christian Martin, J Phlip, Justin Jay, Walker & Royce and Nikki Nair. Crenshaw has run Dirtybird alongside his wife, Dirtybird COO Aundy Crenshaw, since launching the imprint.

EMPIRE and Dirtybird are formally announcing the partnership today (October 20) at ADE, the annual electronic industry conference happening this week in Amsterdam.

“Our deals are full-on partnerships,” Ghazi told Billboard in March of this year, “so the way the rights are written, recoupment is likely; master reversion, if there is a reversion, is likely; and artists tend to have a lot more creative input, not control.”

Katie Bain