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Arts & Culture

EMPIRE acquires legendary dance label & brand Dirtybird

EMPIRE has announced the acquisition of iconic dance record label, Dirtybird. The acquisition marks the leading independent label, distributor and publisher’s entrance into the dance music scene after building and working alongside some of the world’s top artists across Hip Hop, R&B, Latin, Country and Afrobeats.

Dirtybird was founded in San Francisco in 2005 by Barclay Crenshaw, better known as Claude VonStroke. The label has been at the forefront of the modern U.S. House Music scene for nearly two decades. Dirtybird has won “Label of the Decade” by Mixmag as well as Label of the Year twice at the International Dance Music Awards in Miami.

The acquisition brings together two of San Francisco’s most prominent and independent music companies and is inclusive of the formidable Dirtybird catalog of music, including artists such as Claude VonStroke, Nikki Nair, Walker & Royce, as well as the label’s clothing, publishing and web3 assets. Claude VonStroke will continue to own and run all of the Dirtybird live events and festival brands.

“Growing up in San Francisco and the Bay Area at large, dance music has always been a huge part of our music scene,” said Ghazi, CEO and Founder of EMPIRE. “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,” said Barclay Crenshaw, CEO and Founder 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.”

EMPIRE and Dirtybird Records plan to formally announce the new partnership at preeminent dance conference, Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), on October 20th at Space266. The event will be open to the public. For more details, please visit

Founded in 2010 by Bay Area native Ghazi, EMPIRE is currently leading through its innovative approach to the digital music era across its label, distribution and publishing arms. EMPIRE and Ghazi have been recognized for their work in Billboard’s 2022 Power Players, Rolling Stone’s Future 25 and has received numerous awards over the years including GRAMMY Awards, BET Awards, Clio Awards and a Webby Award. With its focus on early stage artist development, the San Francisco based company has been instrumental in launching the careers of multi-platinum, Grammy Award winning artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, XXXTentacion, Fireboy DML and more.

Dirtybird Records released its first vinyl in January, 2005. The music was so different to the house music that was popular in the United States that Barclay Crenshaw aka Claude VonStroke could initially only find distribution for the label’s innovative records via a small distributor in Frankfurt, Germany. Over the next 18 years, VonStroke and his wife Aundy created the most recognizable and iconic dance brand in North America, including clothing, festivals, art, web3 and more.

The “Dirtybird sound” is influenced by everything from Detroit Techno to Bristol Drum n Bass to Brooklyn hip Hop all expertly cooked into house music. The sound has been copied 100 times over, yet the label continues to innovate at the highest levels. Notable artists A&R’d by VonStroke include Walker & Royce, Fisher, Shiba San, Nala, Nikki Nair, Eats Everything and many more.

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