ALISON FINLEY NAMED EVP, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
FOR MOTOWN RECORDS
Motown Records recently announced the appointment of veteran music executive Alison Finley as Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, effective immediately. In this newly created role, Finley will take on oversight of the day–to–day operations of the label and shared services with various teams across Motown’s parent company, Universal Music Group (UMG). Finley will remain based in Los Angeles, reporting to Ethiopia Habtemariam, Chairman & CEO of Motown Records.
In making the announcement, Habtemariam said, “Alison has been a strong advocate for artists throughout her career. I’ve worked with her for years and have always admired her forward–thinking and innovative approach to designing deals that set up artists and labels for success. I’m excited to welcome her as a key member of our leadership team and I look forward to working with her to continue to redefine Motown and find new ways to support our artists, partners and ever–growing catalogue on a global level.”
Finley said, “I want to thank Sir Lucian and Ethiopia for this tremendous opportunity. I am deeply honored to join the Motown leadership team in overseeing one of the most iconic record labels in the world. Motown represents much of the world’s greatest music and continues to give an authentic and dynamic platform for our artists, partners and creatives to be heard across the globe. I’ve been very fortunate to work with and to be mentored by some of the greatest executives in the music business and I am especially thankful to Jeff Harleston and Michael Seltzer for their constant support of my career.”
Prior to Motown, Finley served as Sr. VP of Business and Legal Affairs at UMG, where she oversaw strategy and negotiations for the company, including for label ventures, recording agreement, label distribution, merchandise, vendors and brand partners, among other areas.
An artist advocate, Finley spent much of her career representing artists and began her legal career in private practice in 1998. She joined Davis Shapiro Lewit & Grabel LLP in 2000, rising to senior equity partner at the firm. Finley has represented some of the world’s most prominent recording artists, music producers, songwriters and Fortune 500 companies, including Kanye West, Raekwon, Twista, No ID, 88 Keys and Red Bull Media House. She has also served in several in–house counsel roles, including as legal counsel for Loud Records and as General Counsel of Ultra Records/Ultra Music Publishing. Finley serves on the Board of Trustees of the TJ Martell Foundation.
WARNER MUSIC UNVEILS RAFT OF KEY ANNOUNCEMENTS
Warner Music and China’s Tencent Music Entertainment Group (TME) announced last week an expanded multi–year strategic licensing agreement. The companies have been working together since their original agreement over a decade ago. TME will continue to make Warner Music’s repertoire available across all its online music platforms in mainland China, including QQ Music, Kugou Music and Kuwo Music, as well as its live streaming platforms and WeSing, its online karaoke platform. Additionally, Warner Music’s repertoire will also be made available, via TME’s online music platforms, on certain designated connected devices, such as in–car audio systems, in mainland China. The companies also agreed to launch a new JV record label, leveraging Warner Music’s global resources and experience in supporting artists’ careers, as well as TME’s massive influence in mainland China’s music and entertainment market.
Warner Recorded Music has named Alfonso Perez–Soto as President, Emerging Markets. In the role, he reports to Simon Robson, President, International at Warner Recorded Music. Perez–Soto’s emerging markets mandate covers Sub–Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, India and South Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean and Eastern Europe. These markets are home to 3.2 billion people, some 40% of the world’s population, who are increasingly able to access music through a range of digital services that are being monetised for artists and labels.
On the African continent, Temi Adeniji has been appointed to the combined role of Managing Director of Warner Music South Africa and Sr. VP, Strategy, Sub–Saharan Africa. Adeniji will assume the post in September, reporting to Alfonso Perez–Soto. As Sr. VP of Special Projects, she’ll work closely with Simon Robson on a number of international projects. The move comes as Warner Music continues expanding in Africa, building upon Adeniji’s work with Perez–Soto to develop the company’s presence in the region through key deals with regional labels, distributors, and DSPs. Adeniji will succeed Tracy Fraser as Managing Director of Warner Music South Africa. Fraser has led the affiliate since its founding in 2013, and developed a successful and diverse roster of local artists, increasing the company’s market share, revenue and profits. She will work alongside Adeniji over the next few months to support her transition. Adeniji joined Warner Music in 2016 as Director, International Strategy & Operations, and was promoted to VP in 2019 and Sr. VP last year.
Warner Music Group (WMG) also revealed the acquisition of leading indie label Zhara Music, and the launch of the Russian division of its Atlantic Records label. Zhara Music, which was founded less than three years ago, has become a significant player in the fast–growing Russian music industry. As a result of the deal, the label will be rebranded to continue its operations as Atlantic Records Russia, plugging into Warner Music’s global network. Zhara Music’s artists are already popular in markets such as China and the Middle East, and Warner Music’s global presence will help further promote them internationally. Atlantic Records Russia will be helmed by Zhara Music’s Co–Founder, Bahh Tee, as General Producer, and he will maintain a dedicated team of A&R and marketing specialists in a standalone office, separate to Warner Music Russia. This approach recognizes the unique nature of the team put together by Bahh Tee and EMIN (Zhara Music’s Co–Founder), and their success in the Russian market.
Alexander Blinov, General Director of Warner Music Russia, will provide strategic leadership for Atlantic Records Russia. Back–office functions, such as legal and financial support, catalog registration and content distribution, will now be performed by the Warner Music Russia team. This ensures the Atlantic Records Russia catalog will benefit from the global music company’s latest technological solutions and best practices. EMIN will now focus on his own business projects and will remain an Atlantic Records Russia artist.
In the publishing arena, Warner Chappell Music has finalized a worldwide publishing agreement with d.a. got that dope, an award–winning record producer, songwriter and music executive. He’s been the creative mastermind behind a string of hits for Kodak Black, Tyga, Megan Thee Stallion, Chris Brown and others. In 2020, he produced the Eminem single, “Godzilla” ft. Juice Wrld, which has sold over eight million copies worldwide, in addition to eight other beats on Eminem’s Music To Be Murdered By album. d.a. has also been featured on a variety of top producers’ charts, most recently reaching the No.1 spot on Billboard’s R&B/Hip–Hop Producers chart for multiple weeks. d.a. got that dope’s early work included that with Mikkey Halsted, Ghostface Killah and Bump J. In 2009, he co–wrote and co–produced “Everybody in Love” by JLS, which went No.1 in the U.K. and earned him a multi–Platinum certification there. Shortly after, he moved to Los Angeles and went on to get his break producing Chris Brown’s single, “Privacy,” which also marked his first RIAA 2x–Platinum certified hit. Outside of producing and songwriting, d.a. is a regarded A&R executive who discovered and helped develop rising rapper/singer 24kGoldn, who he has worked with as his A&R since signing him in 2018.
CONCORD PROMOTES BOB VALENTINE TO PRESIDENT
& KENT HOSKINS TO CFO – SIGNS JULIAN CASABLANCAS
Concord has elevated Bob Valentine from CFO to President of the company. Assuming the CFO post for the company is current Concord Music Publishing CFO, Kent Hoskins. Both assume their new responsibilities immediately, reporting to Scott Pascucci, CEO for Concord.
Kent Hoskins & Bob Valentine
In his new role, Valentine will continue to work closely with Pascucci to guide the company’s overall business strategy. Alongside the rest of the senior executive team, he will lead Concord’s efforts to grow via additional acquisitions, further the interests of Concord’s recording artists, songwriters, composers, playwrights and creative partners, and help to expand its reach into new markets and areas of business centered around music and music–related IP.
“I’m extraordinarily proud and humbled by the growth and success of Concord, and even more thankful for the many, many people who have worked so hard to make Concord what it is today. Scott, our Board and I have developed an outstanding working partnership and I look forward to continuing our collective mission to make Concord the leading independent, worldwide leader in the music industry,” said Valentine.
“Bob has been a key contributor to Concord’s evolution and growth over the better part of twenty years. He takes great pride in the history and culture of the company and understands as well as any of us the work and dedication that our entire team has invested in the dramatic evolution of Concord. This is a well–deserved promotion in recognition of his invaluable contributions to the future vision of Concord,” commented Pascucci. “He will be replaced by Kent Hoskins, another extraordinary executive who has been serving as CFO of both Concord Music Publishing and Concord Theatricals. His transition to CFO of the entire company will be seamless and the entire Board looks forward to working even more closely with Kent in the coming years.”
Hoskins said, “Having worked in the music industry for almost 20 years, I am honored and delighted to be taking up the Concord CFO role. The team at Concord persistently delivers the creative passion and stewardship of their artists, writers and authors with an astute and highly successful growth strategy. I look forward to Concord continuing that success and thank Scott Pascucci and Bob Valentine for their continued support.”
In signing news, Concord Music Publishing has finalized a worldwide publishing agreement with Grammy–winning singer, songwriter, musician and producer Julian Casablancas. The deal encompasses Casablancas’ past and future solo works, as well as various projects such as The Voidz.
Casablancas is best known as the lead singer of The Strokes whose most recent album, The New Abnormal, won Best Rock Album at the 2021 Grammy Awards. Across his career, Casablancas has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the industry including Daft Punk on “Instant Crush” off their 2013 album, Random Access Memories. Casablancas co–wrote and performed guitar and lead vocals on the track which has amassed over 300 million streams on Spotify alone. He also stars in the critically acclaimed music video which counts more than 400 million views on YouTube.
Casablancas also founded Cult Records, the creative imprint which houses his solo album, Phrazes for the Young, as well as the experimental rock band The Voidz, formed by Casablancas in 2013. The Voidz released the synth–rock single “Alien Crime Lord” in December 2020, which originally premiered on the new Grand Theft Auto Online video game and performed live on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
BMG AND KKR ANNOUNCES NEW COLLABORATION
FOR ACQUIRING RIGHTS
BMG and global investment firm KKR announced last week they will join forces to pursue recorded music, music publishing and other music rights acquisitions. Working together, the companies will deliver a compelling solution for artists, songwriters and other music rights owners seeking to realize and grow the value of their music assets.
Under the terms of the agreement, BMG and KKR will work together to source individual transactions to acquire music catalogs, bringing together BMG’s industry knowledge and global capabilities in maximizing value for its artists with KKR’s network, resources and experience as an investor in market–leading music, digital, media and content businesses. The new relationship does not involve any transfer or sale of equity in BMG or the formation of a JV between KKR and BMG, which is part of the international media, services and education company Bertelsmann.
Bertelsmann Chairman & CEO Thomas Rabe said, “BMG and KKR can jointly pursue opportunities for acquisitions of major catalogs of music rights from now on. Together with KKR, we are ideally positioned to make attractive offers to rights owners.” Rabe recalled the two companies’ successful collaboration in the past: “KKR was already the ideal partner and catalyst once before, following the reestablishment of our music subsidiary in 2008. We subsequently bought back all of the BMG shares held by KKR in 2013 and since then, BMG has developed into one of the most successful music companies of the streaming age, and one of Bertelsmann’s three global content businesses. Now we will ignite the next stage with KKR.”
Richard Sarnoff, Partner at KKR and previously a longstanding executive at Bertelsmann, said, “BMG has become an innovative leader in the music industry by embracing digital trends early on, while always placing artists at the center of everything they do. We are delighted to reunite with BMG’s talented team to pursue future opportunities together, leveraging our complementary platforms.”
BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch said, “Our early partnership with KKR helped us rapidly become the first new international music company of the streaming age winning the trust of artists and songwriters with great service and 21st century levels of fairness and transparency. This new relationship with KKR will offer artists and songwriters a well–funded, financially stable home for their music assets with the confidence that their songs and recordings will be managed both professionally and respectfully.”
Over the last decade, BMG has been among the music industry’s most prolific acquirers of music rights, concluding over 100 deals between 2009 and 2017, many of them during the time of KKR’s shareholding in BMG from 2009 to 2013. In addition to its prior investment in BMG, KKR has invested in well–known music businesses such as Gibson Brands and Alpha Theta (f.k.a. Pioneer DJ). The firm also has broad experience investing in the digital media and content sectors, including investments in ByteDance (TikTok), Jio Platforms (JioSaavn), Epic Games, AppLovin, OverDrive, RBmedia, WebMD, UFC, Leonine, Next Issue Media and Nielsen.
BMG and KKR have recently completed transactions to acquire music rights from leading artists. In January 2021, KKR announced the acquisition of a majority stake in the music catalog of songwriter, musician, producer and lead vocalist of OneRepublic, Ryan Tedder, including music publishing and recorded music rights. In the same month BMG announced it had acquired outright Fleetwood Mac Co–Founder Mick Fleetwood’s interests in the band’s recordings.
In other BMG news, the company has finalized a multi–faceted global partnership with the Montreux Jazz Festival. The deal includes the launch of a brand–new collection series, The Montreux Years, and a definitive three–part documentary series celebrating the history of the music festival. The Montreux Years uncovers legendary performances by the world’s most iconic artists, alongside rare and never–before–released recordings from the festival’s 55–year history, remastered in superlative audio. The releases will be accompanied by exclusive liner notes and previously unseen photography. The recordings are taken from Founder Claude Nobs’ collection of audio–visual material (Montreux Sounds). Montreux Media Ventures, the media subsidiary of the Montreux Jazz Festival, BMG, and Beyond TNC are also set to produce a definitive three–part documentary series, under the working title of They All Came Down to Montreux. Swiss Public Broadcaster, RTS, is also on–board as a co–production partner. The series will include never–released material and rare interviews with artists, alongside many of the most iconic performances capturing the festival’s rich history. The Zurich Film Festival 2021 will host the world premiere of the film version of the documentary. The series is directed by archive specialist Oliver Murray. It is co–produced and co–financed by BMG and Beyond TNC in association with Orofena Films.
GLOBAL NEWS UPDATES…
Atlantic Records has announced the formal debut single, “Let It Ring,” from TikTok pop sensation Reiley, along with his music video self–directed by Reiley and Nicholas Lam (Monsta X, Nick Jonas). The single is written and produced by Lostboy (Zedd, Bebe Rexha), Lauren Aquilina (Rina Sawayama, Olivia O’Brien) and JHart (Jennifer Lopez, Camila Cabello). “Let It Ring” features the first–ever licensed sample of the instantly recognizable official iPhone ringtone fused with a slinky bass line and infectious hook, which you can listen to HERE. Reiley hails from a remote area in the Faroe Islands (about 200 miles north of the U.K. with a population of just over 50,000 people). Reiley already has almost 11 million followers and over 120 million likes on TikTok. Reiley was brought to the attention of Pete Ganbarg, President A&R, Atlantic Records (who signed him last year) by A&R Worldwide Founder, Sat Bisla.
British recording artist and actor ARLO has signed with Sony Music’s Arista Records. Based in East London, ARLO will release new music this year with Arista Records. ARLO was named one of the new influential faces in the U.K. for Music and TV in 2019 by the Evening Standard and has garnered millions of music streams while selling–out a string of headline shows in London. ARLO has been championed by BBC Radio 1’s Phil Taggart and found a fan in Elton John who played “Ivory” on his Rocket Hour Beats 1 show, calling him a future star. ARLO is represented by CAA worldwide for music, TV and film. His most recent collaboration with rapper Mick Jenkins, “Changing,” was well–received by tastemakers like HighSnobiety, 4Music, Line of Best Fit, The Independent, Nylon, BBC Radio 1, Metro, Complex and Clash Magazine.
RCA Records’ Dan Chertoff has informed A&R Worldwide that he has signed Hyperpop artist ElyOtto. The 17–year–old from Calgary’s track “SugarCrash!” has been garnering 4 million streams in the U.S. and 13 million globally, each week.
A&R Worldwide has learned that Maik Pallasch, Head of Music, Spotify (Germany, Switzerland, Austria) will be leaving the company on March 31st. Prior to joining Spotify, Pallasch had spent a number of years as a senior A&R executive at BMG in Berlin. Pallasch states, “I am happy to share that, after three and a half amazing years, I will be leaving Spotify at the end of this month. It has been an incredible journey. Thank you so much to everyone – colleagues, artists and partners who made it so worthwhile! I am very much looking forward to what is next. Stay tuned!”
Highly regarded Def Jam A&R veteran, Noah Preston, whose work on Jhené Aiko’s Chilombo has earned an Album of The Year Grammy nod, has been promoted to EVP, A&R, it was announced recently by Jeff Harleston, Interim CEO, Def Jam Recordings. In 2020, within the space of one year, Preston achieved the rare feat of guiding No.1 albums in the fields of both R&B (Chilombo by Jhené Aiko) and hip–hop (No Pressure by Logic). Based in Santa Monica, he will report directly to Harleston. Preston has spent his entire career in music at Def Jam, most recently serving as Sr. VP, A&R, since 2018. He joined the label as an A&R Department intern in 2009, while attending Loyola Marymount University. He was brought on to the staff during his senior year in 2010 and was able to sign his friend Jhené Aiko to the label. He signed Logic in 2012, and was promoted to VP, A&R, in 2014. Preston is currently in the studio working with YG on his sixth studio album, and with Hit–Boy on his debut album.
Sony Music Entertainment recently announced the launch of OFFMUTE, a new pan–regional label focused on championing new and emerging Southeast Asian talent by drawing on the combined experience of Sony Music’s entire Southeast Asian team. The new label will support Southeast Asian artists in amplifying their music and building a strong pan–regional audience base through enhanced promotional, marketing and artist development, drawn from Sony Music’s global expertise and resources. OFFMUTE also revealed three new signings for the label in acclaimed Philippine singer–songwriter Clara Benin; Indonesian alt–pop sensation Mezzaluna; and Malaysian recording star liesl–mae.
Out of Sony Music’s Nashville office, Taylor Lindsey has been named as the label’s new Head of A&R, following the recent announcement that veteran executive Jim Catino is stepping down from the top A&R post at the end of June. Lindsey came to Sony Music Nashville from BMG in 2013. At BMG, she pitched catalogs for a number of chart–topping songwriters, including Hillary Lindsey, the executive’s sister, who has written hits for the likes of Carrie Underwood (“Jesus, Take the Wheel”) and Little Big Town (“Girl Crush”). Lindsey takes up her new role immediately, reporting to Sony Music Nashville’s Chairman & CEO, Randy Goodman. Catino’s departure sees him making moves to launch his own publishing and artist development venture.
Sony Music Publishing South Africa has signed a worldwide agreement with Gallo Music Publishers (GMP), excluding Africa. With this new creative partnership, Sony Music Publishing will provide its industry leading services to Gallo Music Publishers’ catalog of songs and create new opportunities for its compositions on an international scale. GMP is the publishing arm of one of Africa’s largest and oldest independent major labels, Gallo Record Company, which also celebrates its 95th anniversary this year. GMP is home to some of South Africa’s most well–known songwriters, and its catalog is composed of some of the most iconic copyrights in South Africa’s rich heritage of musical works through the decades. As part of Sony Music Publishing’s range of services, Gallo published songwriters will have the opportunity to collaborate with the company’s roster of songwriters, and have their songs promoted overseas. The company will also provide administration services, helping to collect, distribute and expedite royalty payments across the world, in addition to synchronization services, creating placement opportunities for GMP’s songs as well as licensing its music for film, television and commercials.
After less than a year since launching, ADA Latin has finalized global distribution deals with some of Latin music’s leading labels and artists. Among them are EDM veteran Toy Selectah’s Worldwide Records and well–known LA indie label, Cosmica Records, as well as Grammy–winning acts Carlinhos Brown (Candyall Music) and Eduardo Cabra (La Casa del Sombrero). Other major names include Roberto Andrade (NIÜ Records), Fernando Costa, Halley Records, Rawayana (Broccoli Records), King Records, Furacão 2000, MC Livinho, Adso Alejandro, A.C.O. and Raquel Sofia. Headquartered in Miami, ADA Latin, which operates across Latin U.S., Latin America, Spain, and Portugal, launched in July of last year and has aggressively built out a global leadership team focused on serving the Latin space with custom partnerships and unmatched offerings.
In other ADA news, the distribution arm of Warner Music Group (WMG) and its parent company have formed a strategic alliance with leading Malaysian indie label KRU Music for the marketing and distribution of its artists’ music across South East Asia and worldwide. KRU Music is one of the most progressive and influential labels in South East Asia, and its parent company is also home to a leading music publisher and talent management agency. Founded in 1996 by the singer–songwriters from the band KRU, the label is the longest standing and most successful artist–owned indie in Malaysia at 25–years–old. KRU Music has a diverse roster of artists, who perform in both English and Malay, including Fitri Hakim, Forteen, Hazury, Iqwan Alif, Jaclyn Victor, Mojo and Wings. KRU Music also unveiled new additions to its roster including Dian Hashim, Fai Ramli, Fateh and Timur. The label said it intends to focus on dance, hip–hop, pop and R&B moving forward, with other genres being catered for via new sub–labels.
Apple Music’s Up Next artist initiative, which looks to identify and showcase emerging talent through a monthly, multi–faceted global editorial and marketing campaign across the platform, is expanding to include an international local focus spotlighting new artists in select regions around the world. At launch, a monthly rotation of new Up Next artists to watch will receive local spotlights across the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, South Africa, India, France, Germany, Mexico, Russia and Japan. The program will also extend into China later next month. As the newest Up Next artist to be spotlighted in their region, each artist will be featured across Apple Music’s new localized Up Next playlist. The curated Up Next playlist features new and emerging artists from across varying genres, hand–picked by Apple Music editors worldwide. Since debuting in 2017, the Up Next roster includes numerous Grammy–winning and critically acclaimed artists. Among the featured acts in the expanded local Up Next program are Peach PRC (Australia/New Zealand), Pressa (Canada), Noé Preszow (France), Lune (Germany), Prabh Deep (India), Dongurizu (Japan), Nicki Nicole (Latin America), prosto Lera (Russia), Blxckie (South Africa), Baby Queen (U.K.) and Morray (U.S.).
Island Records in the U.K. has tapped Rob Uche as Sr. A&R for the label. Uche joins Island from Relentless Records/Sony Music U.K., where, during his tenure, he signed and developed Headie One, under Shabs Jobanputra the label’s President. In his new role, Uche reports to Annie Christensen and Daniel Lloyd–Jones, the label’s Co–Heads of A&R, in addition to President Louis Bloom.
Virgin Music Label and Artist Services has promoted veteran marketing executive Adam Starr to Sr. VP, Marketing, as announced by President Jacqueline Saturn and GM Matt Sawin. Based in LA, Starr most recently served as Head of Marketing for the Virgin Music/Capitol Music Group label. In his new role, he will maintain leadership over strategy, planning and execution of all marketing campaigns, while working alongside senior executive staff in setting the framework for the growth of Virgin Music. Since joining Virgin, Starr has worked with and guided marketing campaigns for labels and acts including Xxxtentacion, Trippie Redd, NF, Mac DeMarco and the TenThousand Projects team. His resume also includes time as an artist manager and freelance music journalist.
[PIAS] has announced the re–branding of its distribution business to [Integral] Distribution Services, effective immediately. The group’s record company activities, including the [PIAS] in–house labels and the cooperative label roster, will stay under the umbrella of the [PIAS] Label Group. Adrian Pope has been named Managing Director of [Integral], adding to his responsibilities as Chief Digital Officer for the [PIAS] Group. Pope will be supported by Leo van Schaick in overseeing the [Integral] business on a global level. Van Schaick will combine these additional responsibilities with his role as Regional Managing Director of the continental European territories outside of France. In their expanded roles, Pope and Van Schaick will continue to report to Edwin Schröter, Group Managing Director of [PIAS]. [Integral]’s local operations around the world including in the U.K., France, Australia and the U.S., will continue to be led by the local [PIAS] Managing Directors who will be overseeing both divisions and their distinct teams in each territory. [Integral] has also announced its first new appointment with Felicia Flack joining the global team as Head of Label and Artist Services. Flack will work closely with [Integral]’s local teams, servicing label and artists partners from around the world. She joins [Integral] from her previous role at digital platform Amuse, where she was responsible for the acquisition of new clients and overseeing the company’s label and artist marketing services.
Spotify has launched, Loud & Clear, a new website dedicated to making the data of the music streaming economy more transparent. The site unveils that there is no single streaming rate as well as that Spotify pays the rights holders directly instead of the artist. The new site also reveals that Spotify has paid over $23 billion in royalties to right–holders including the $5 billion from last year. In 2020, 207,000 songs racked up more than a million streams. The same year, 870 artists generated over $1 million a year, while 1,820 topped $500,000 and 7,800 topped $100,000. Other features included on the platform are revenue generation over time, a breakdown of how money flows from the listener to the artist, and in–depth looks at how streaming changed an artist’s career.
Last Wednesday, short video app, Triller, signed a licensing agreement with the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA). The deal will ensure that songwriters and publishers represented by NMPA, which is most American publishers, are compensated when their songs are used in videos on the app. However, the license is opt–in and publishing members will not automatically be paid for their work. This deal follows last month’s news of Universal pulling its entire catalogue from Triller after the platform allegedly failed to pay out their artists.
Longtime executive, Gao Xiaosong, left his position as director of Alibaba Music recently, according to Chinese information site Tianyancha. Reportedly, Gao left the same day the Chinese government asked Alibaba Group to sell some of its media assets as there was concern about the company’s massive reach and influence. Gao is a key entertainment figure in China who has been a successful singer–songwriter, talk show host, and director to name a few. He had joined Alibaba Music as Chairman when it first launched in 2015. In June 2016, Alibaba consolidated a number of its entertainment and digital media assets into a single unified entity. Gao left his music role in September 2016 to focus on international expansion as chairman of the Alibaba Entertainment Strategic Committee. In 2018 he represented Alibaba at the Academy Awards as the company had co–produced the best picture film Green Book. In October 2019, Gao had officially stepped down as chairman and legal representative for Alibaba Music despite Tianyancha reporting that Gao was still in his role as Director. The recent report did not specify if Gao had left the company or changed positions.
Following over two years of speculation around a merger/acquisition, it was revealed last week that Wasserman (formerly Wasserman Media Group), is set to acquire Paradigm Talent Agency’s N. American live music representation, whose roster counts the likes of Ed Sheeran, Billie Eilish, Shawn Mendes, Coldplay, Janet Jackson and Kacey Musgraves, among others. The deal, currently described as an “agreement in principle,” is anticipated to be finalized in Q2 of this year. Paradigm’s announcement of the move didn’t include financial details, though it did reveal that Tom Gores, Founder of Platinum Equity and brother of Sam Gores, Paradigm’s CEO & Chairman, would bring financial support to the new music venture as an equity partner. Upon being fully finalized, the acquisition will see the firm operating under a new name and organizational structure. Wasserman’s primary focus is on the representation of professional athletes across the NFL, MLB and NHL, in addition to Olympic athletes as well as finalizing a number of acquisitions across sports, creative and marketing agencies, and social audience data platform, Unlock. For its part, Paradigm’s music department has grown quickly through a number of acquisitions including its foundational deal with Monterey Peninsula Artists in 2005, as well as Little Big Man, A.M. Only, 50% in each of London’s CODA and X–ray Touring, The Windish Agency and Dale Morris & Associates. There was no indication of plans for Paradigm’s ex-N. American holdings under the deal.
World renowned classical musicians, The Piano Guys (Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp Nelson, Paul Anderson, Al van der Beek), are the latest artists to join the Primary Wave Music Publishing family. The deal, that was announced today, will see the publisher acquiring worldwide income and future distribution rights in the group’s existing recordings, and worldwide publishing administration rights for future musical compositions. The group have appeared on countless television programs, been covered by press worldwide, and sold–out shows globally. In 2011, The Piano Guys posted their first video to YouTube and have since garnered over two billion views across the platform. Each of their seven albums have went to No.1 on Billboard’s Classical Albums or New Age charts upon release. Primary Wave will work with The Piano Guys to market their name and likeness, as well as providing access to the company’s marketing team and publishing infrastructure, which includes digital strategy, licensing, synch opportunities as well as film, television and theatrical production.
Sheer Music Publishing has announced it has signed an agreement to represent popular Nigerian artist, Iyanya, globally. Iyanya, known for his slick R&B and bright Afro–pop, has released a number of popular singles including “Applaudise,” “Baby Daddy,” “Again” and “Awade” featuring artists like D’banji, Banky W., Wizkid, Seyi Shay and Dammy Krane. Iyanya rose to prominence after winning the talent competition Project Fame West Africa in 2008 during the show’s first season. He then went on to co–found the record label Made Men Music Group with Ubi Franklin. He released his debut studio album My Story in 2011 including the singles, “No Time” and “Love Truly.” His second LP in 2013, Desire, yielded a number of popular singles such as “Kukere,” for which he partnered with producer DTunes, and “Ur Waist,” which included additional vocals from Emma Nyra. After he released Applaudise in 2015, Iyanya left Made Men to focus on releasing singles including hits “Biko” and “Up 2 Sumting.”
Dice has added New York music venue and entertainment complex, Avant Gardner, to its client portfolio to provide digital ticketing services. The multi–year agreement encompasses The Brooklyn Mirage, The Great Hall and The Kings Hall. The 80,000–square–foot space, a former steel manufacturing mill, is Brooklyn’s second largest entertainment venue. Avant Gardner has welcomed acts such as Drake, Aphex Twin, deadmau5, Diplo, Rüfüs du Sol, Carl Cox, Tale Of Us, Sofi Tukker and others.
NetEase Cloud Music, a leading interactive music streaming service provider in China, and Merlin, the independent’s digital music licensing partner, announced last week that they have extended their strategic partnership in China to include a wider range of cooperation. The multi–year licensing deal will include access to additional marketing and promotional opportunities for Merlin members. Merlin and NetEase Cloud Music’s original agreement was established in 2018. The extended partnership grants NetEase Cloud Music’s users access to even more music from Merlin’s members globally. Additionally, the expanded partnership provides more of Merlin’s members with the ability to increase their fanbase via their exposure to NetEase Cloud Music’s significant and growing audience in China. This includes Merlin members who have made their music available within the NetEase music ecosystem over the past three years, such as Armada Music, CD Baby, FUGA and Mushroom Labels.
Former Little Mix member, Jesy Nelson, has signed with international talent management company YMU for global representation. Before parting ways with Little Mix in 2020, Nelson was an original member of the group who came together during the eighth series of TV talent show X Factor in 2011. They have since gone on to sell over 50 million records worldwide, placing them in the top five of best–selling girl groups of all time. Nelson joins the YMU Group roster that also includes Take That, Steve Aoki, Ant and Dec, and Fearne Cotton, among others.
Feed Media Group (FMG), a music technology company helping businesses incorporate music to create more engaging experiences, has signed a deal with electronic music leader Insomniac that will bring tracks from its distributed artists and labels to the Adaptr library for easy licensing by startups and emerging apps. Adaptr subscribers can build a library of tracks from the service’s collection and make them available on–demand in their apps, greatly accelerating time to market by eliminating the need for direct licensing negotiations, all while ensuring rights holders are paid for the use of their work. Tracks from Insomniac’s artists and labels will now join Adaptr’s growing catalog, which also includes music from Warner Music Group, BMG Records, Entertainment One (eOne), Equal Vision Records, Vio Mobile and A–Train Distribution.
The Ivors Academy revealed last week that commercial releases eligible for Best Album, Best Song Musically and Lyrically and Best Contemporary Song at The Ivors with Apple Music will no longer be required to have appeared on the Official UK Top 100 chart for consideration. The news comes as entries opened last week for six categories at The Ivors 2021 to spotlight works written by British and Irish songwriters and composers, including Best Album, Best Contemporary Song, Best Song Musically and Lyrically, Best Original Film Score, Best Original Video Game Score and Best Television Soundtrack. To be eligible, works must have a British or Irish writing contribution of at least 33.3% and have been commercially released in the U.K. for the first time between January 1st, 2020 and March 31st, 2021. The Academy has guidelines to improve access to its awards and remove barriers to entry, which include providing scholarships to music creators needing financial assistance to join the Academy and enter an award, transparency via published rules and criteria, and support through the application process. The Ivors Academy has announced that the 66th presentation of Ivor Novello Awards at The Ivors with Apple Music will take place on September 21st, with plans to hold the annual awards ceremony at Grosvenor House, London.
Jens–Markus Wegener, the former General Manager of Meisel Music and Managing Director of IMAGEM Music, has assumed his new role as Sr. Consultant at GUESSTIMATE Publishing, the publishing arm of the Berlin–based group of companies, GUESSTIMATE. Wegener strengthens the dedicated Guesstimate team, which recently opened Guesstimate Loftyard Studios alongside the production team YouNotUs. Managing Directors, Gian Köhler and Martin Heuser, tapped the experienced and well–connected Wegener, along with his own publishing company AMV Publishing, to further develop the GUESSTIMATE Publishing subsidiary. GUESSTIMATE has made a name for itself over the years as a successful management, label and publishing company, as well as a promotion and marketing agency for DJ–pop and EDM acts such as Alle Farben, YouNotUs, Charlott Boss and Kush Kush, for which they have won numerous Gold awards and an Echo Award. Together with Wegener, the young team will focus on expanding their music publishing company over the next three years. With a total of three active A&R managers, the focus will be on new international signings, the organization of regular songwriters’ camps and writing sessions with top acts. Wegener will also look after the worldwide exploitation of Guesstimate’s own repertoire and the search for new publishing catalogs. Currently, GUESSTIMATE is also actively searching for a U.S. sub–publishing partner.
SoundCloud has named Drew Wilson Chief Operating and Chief Financial Officer, commencing April 1st. The entertainment and finance executive will take on oversight of all finance and operations while reporting to Michael Weissman, SoundCloud’s CEO. Wilson comes to SoundCloud from First Look Media where he served as COO/CFO, looking after the media firm’s operations, sales/distribution, HR, product/engineering, finance, strategic planning and business development. Other past CFO posts include those at AwesomenessTV in Los Angeles and RLJ Entertainment/AcornTV as well as divisional CFO and worldwide operations controller for Discovery Communications. Wilson is also on the boards of two non–profits supporting the education and amplification of diverse voices in media including The Gotham/Independent Film Project (IFP) and Women of Color Unite (WOCU).
London–based Distiller Music Group has announced a wide–ranging new label agreement with Believe. The new global deal will see Distiller Music Group transferring all of their digital distribution to Believe, who will also be providing international marketing support across the company’s roster of artists. All of Distiller Music Group’s forthcoming new releases, including those from artists such as Reverend and the Makers, Ramona Flowers and The Ninth Wave, will fall under this new agreement followed by the company’s full back catalog.
Sentric Music Group has signed London–based singer/songwriter Tom Speight to an exclusive songwriting agreement. Signed to Nettwerk Music Group for records, Speight has generated over 160 million streams across all DSPs, with more than a million monthly listeners on Spotify alone. Since 2014, Speight has gained international recognition across the U.K., Germany and Brazil, headlining shows and supporting the likes of Ed Sheeran, Snow Patrol, Ben Howard and Travis. He has had strong radio support from BBC Radio 2, with seven playlisted records in a row, including his latest radio single “Everything’s Waiting For You,” which was added to the B list as well as regional radio. Speight has had a number of synch placements including on Netflix’s To All The Boys: Always And Forever and Virgin River. He’s also made TV appearances on ITV News, Channel 5 News, BBC Breakfast, BBC News, Sky News and The Sara Cox TV Show. Speight’s second album, Everything’s Waiting For You, will be released this year, with new headline shows set to be announced for 2022.
w through March 29th with no restrictions on entrants and all genres and styles welcome.
Ditto Music has launched an NFT exchange on its pioneering Bluebox platform. Artists, including rappers Big Zuu and Taylor Bennett, the brother of Chance the Rapper, are already set to auction shares of upcoming releases to the public. Launched in 2020, Bluebox simplifies record ownership and streamlines split royalty payments, resulting in higher collection rates and reduction in the loss of earnings currently experienced by artists. Built on the R3/Corda blockchain, the newly announced NFT exchange hosted on Bluebox will enable members of the public to bid for shares in artists’ copyright and participate in the rewards of their investment when the artist succeeds. British rapper and TV personality Big Zuu has minted shares in a song from his upcoming album, while Taylor Bennett, auctioned shares for a forthcoming release. The successful owners will receive monthly royalty payments to their Bluebox wallet. The news follows February’s announcement of Opulous, a de–fi platform that will connect artists with cash loans, guaranteed against past streaming revenues. Bluebox users will be able to stake revenues from their Bluebox wallet within Opulous, earning interest on any deposits they make.
e new 24–bit offering is compatible with most products on the Sonos S2 platform, supporting up to 48 kHz/24–bit audio resolution. This new integration builds on Qobuz’s continued expansion of hardware partnerships, including the addition of hi–res compatible hardware on the Android platform several years ago. Qobuz 24–bit Hi–Res streaming is available on Sonos in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the U.K. and U.S.
NEON16 Co–Founder and industry veteran, Lex Borrero, music mogul Tommy Mottola and top representation firm, Range Media Partners, have unveiled the formation of NTERTAIN, a new entertainment and media firm focusing on the creation, development, and production of premier content across all mediums. The 360° company and online broadcaster will bring Latin stories to the forefront by representing the global influence of Latin talent, brands and culture. Since launching in 2019, Borrero’s NEON16 has become a key player in the Latin music industry, generating multiple chart–topping crossover hits as well as executive producing Selena Gomez’s latest album, Revelacion, and Paramount’s Spongebob: Sponge on the Run movie soundtrack and it’s summer hit, “Agua.” One of the industry’s most influential executives, Mottola is credited with discovering and/or guiding the careers of acts such as Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith and Will Smith, as well as creating what TIME magazine called the “Latin Explosion” in the late 90’s and early 2000’s by signing Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. Founded in 2020, Range Media Partners has grown quickly, with clientele spanning film, television, music, literary and activism. NTERTAIN will be based in Miami, Florida and helmed by Borerro and Mottola, in partnership with Range Media Partners, led by CEO, Peter Micelli.
Awarded in memory of the Trinity Laban alum, political activist and musician, The Fela Anikulapo–Kuti scholarship will allow aspiring jazz trumpeter Alex Polack to continue his studies at Trinity Laban for the academic year 2021/22. The scholarship is funded by Partisan Records and supported by The Fela Anikulapo–Kuti Estate. Recently nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Fela Kuti studied composition and trumpet performance at Trinity Laban (then Trinity College of Music). He went on to become one of the world’s best–loved musicians, producer, political radical, arranger, outlaw, and inventor of the Afrobeat sound which continues to be a major influence on today’s charts. Through his music and his activism, Fela also became a leading figure within Nigerian and pan–African politics. Like Fela, Birmingham–born Alex Polack studies trumpet performance. The scholarship, awarded on merit to a talented musician from African or of African heritage following nominations from the conservatoire’s Heads of Jazz and Composition, will enable Polack to continue studying on the conservatoire’s BMus Jazz degree program. In addition to the financial award, Alex will benefit from bespoke artistic and industry focused mentoring from Partisan Records and Fela’s grandson Made Kuti, who is a fellow Trinity Laban alum.
SoundExchange recently unveiled a major upgrade in its technologies to create greater efficiencies in the data exchange between record labels and music publishers. This upgrade is part of a multi–year effort to continue leveraging the use of data to streamline systems and increase transparency across the music industry. Called the Common Works Registration (CWR) Pre–Fill, the new feature improves the compatibility of data that flows through SoundExchange’s Music Data Exchange (MDX) application, a centralized system that facilitates the exchange of sound recording and publishing data before recordings are released in the market. The feature integrates CWR data into the MDX workflow, simplifying the data submission process for publishers. Publishers will now be able to make claims in MDX using pre–populated data from their CWR files. For previously submitted CWR files, publishers will be able to respond to requests for data in less than a minute, and publishers submitting new CWR files will be able to respond within 24 hours of submission. This new development will be followed by additional CWR optimization efforts across the SoundExchange companies as the organization continues to enhance data processes within its portfolio of technology solutions.
Emmy–winning music industry executive Jonathan Firstenberg has launched REP. The new company has been designed to serve as a sales representation solution for indie music publishers and independent music catalog/asset owners, allowing them access to increased revenues via film, TV, advertising, digital, broadcast and non–broadcast placements and sales. REP is composed of a collective of experienced, independent sales and licensing representatives. The firm seeks to open doors and to introduce music catalogs and music product, owned by its clients to licensees, by pitching and licensing client music while also sharing all searches and briefs with its clients while concurrently promoting its clients’ brands.
Currently celebrating its 30th anniversary as one of the leading independent production music libraries in the world, Megatrax has unveiled an improved website, new logo, renewed brand mission, and a newly developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered music search platform called Simpli. Spearheaded by James Clarke, Megatrax’s Director of Marketing (who joined the company from Universal Music Group in 2017), the reinvigorated Megatrax brand represents significant forward momentum in its 30–year evolution as exemplified by the company’s new tagline, “Greatness Through Simplicity.” The company states that the new AI powered music search program represents the future of music searching. Driven by cutting–edge artificial intelligence, Simpli has the ability to analyze any audio reference and then quickly deliver the closest matches to the searcher from the Megatrax library of more than 200,000 tracks. The process allows for the seeker to simply drop a YouTube link in the search bar at the top of every page of the new Megatrax website, or they can upload an audio file by clicking on the cloud symbol.
Megatrax also announced last week the launch of its first, brand new label in five years under the banner of Sync Hero, created for in–show TV use. The new label features underscores and beds geared toward scene–setting and storytelling. Sync Hero offers a wide variety of genres and styles with Cool, Calm and Collected, one of the first albums released on the Sync Hero label, presenting a collection of laid back, smooth and sultry R&B tracks. The album Exploring Wilderness is described as “dark and suspenseful wild tribal percussion beds,” while Electronic Lifestyles tracks are “energetic, youthful EDM with an international flair.”
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Professor Jonathan Shalit OBE, Amy Dunning, Alex Weston, Sarah Stennett, Ron Fair, Greg Thompson, Matthew Lazarus–Hall, Zoe Gillespie, Kim Frankiewicz, Ben Cooper, James Foley, Annie Christensen, Brett Alperotwitz, Mukul Deora and Daniel Lieberberg.
JACKASS OF THE WEEK
Have you ever sent a text message you regretted, clicked on the wrong link, posted an inappropriate message or image on social media, accidentally replied “send all” on an E–mail, or made a total ass of yourself? Yes, we’ve all had a jackass moment at one time or another in our life. Some people love to eat tic tac mints, others enjoy a bit of tickle tackle and some enjoy watching TikTok fails. Click HERE to see what tickles our fancy!
A&R WORLDWIDE’S "ARTIST OF THE WEEK"– D’ARCY SPILLER
Naarm/Melbourne–based artist D’Arcy Spiller lures her audience in with her magical mind with the release of her new single, “Wolf Blood.” The song is a melting pot of unnerving instrumentation mixed with the visceral storytelling that Spiller is becoming known for. Her newfound confidence comes to the forefront with haunting howls that cause goosebumps down the spine as she resolves running in her own pack. “Wolf Blood” is the effortlessly powerful next step in her art and echoes a fierce independence, defining her art as one not to be meddled with. Listen to “Wolf Blood” by D’Arcy Spiller HERE and contact Labels@mushroomgroup.com for all inquiries.
A&R WORLDWIDE’S "VIDEO OF THE WEEK" – COACH PARTY
Isle of Wight four–piece Coach Party released their debut EP, Party Food, in association with Chess Club – a label known for breaking new talent, where recent signings include Alfie Templeman and Phoebe Green, and past successes include Jungle and Wolf Alice. Their music has been supported all over U.K. radio in the last two years and they’ve earned continuous support from tastemakers such as The FADER, NME, The Line Of Best Fit, DIY, CLASH, Music Week and more. Their sophomore EP, After Party, is due for release April 13th, featuring their new single “Everybody Hates Me.” The song and video, directed by Daniel Broadley, is about those times when you convince yourself that everyone, including your best friends, don’t actually like you, and your self–confidence is so low that you don’t even blame them, according to vocalist Jess Eastwood. Discover the visual for “Everybody Hates Me” HERE and contact Jordan Morley at email@example.com, as Coach Party is available for publishing and synch opportunities.
PASSPORT APPROVED™ PLAYLIST – 3/28/2021
“PASSPORT APPROVED” PLAYLIST FOR Sunday, March 28th, 2021: The weekly import show. Heard on more than 50 radio stations on six continents weekly including: Flux FM Berlin, Germany; JioSaavn (worldwide); Radio Doble Nueve, Lima, Peru; WZRH–FM New Orleans, LA; KWSS “93.9FM” Phoenix, AZ; KRML “102.1FM” Carmel, CA; KFRR “New Rock 104.1FM” Fresno, CA; Radio 1, Mumbai, India; WCNR Charlottesville, VA; KIWR “The River” Council Bluffs, IA; 2XM Ireland (national radio); 96.2 ZFM The Netherlands; WAPS–FM “The Summit.FM” Akron–Canton, OH; WKTL–FM Youngstown, OH; 105.5FM XFM Nairobi, Kenya; PUK–FM Johannesburg, South Africa; Rock 96.5FM Zambia; 897 FM Bratislava, Slovakia; WITH “90.1FM” Ithaca, NY; UCFM 87.8FM Australian Capital Territory, Australia; WRUR 88.5FM Rochester, NY; WCRU–FM Hamilton, NY; KZND Anchorage, AK; KQCJ Quad Cities, IL; Allgauhit–FM Bavaria Germany; Indie Xfm Los Angeles and on The Independent FM (iHeartRadio) in the United States, as well as many others internationally.
Listen to this two hour show by clicking HERE:
KULICK – “Just Be Friends” (Enci Records, N. America)
SUNHILL – “Sunday” (Black Valley Records, Sweden)
BALTHAZAR – “On A Roll” (Munich Records, Belgium)
INHALER – “When It Breaks” (Polydor, UK)
SLIDE – “Floating” (Slip N Slide Mix) (Unsigned, Sweden)
CADMIUM – “Juvenile Mind” (Unsigned, N. America)
THE HARA – “Black Soul Ceremony” (Unsigned, UK)
CONNELL CRUISE – “Take Me To The River” (DG Records, South Africa)
DOHNY JEP – “Smile” (Memphis Music, UK)
THE RUBENS – “Masterpiece” (Ivy League Records/Ditto/Humming, Australia)
DED RABBIT – “Gotta Get Outta This Place” (Unsigned, Scotland)
OSCAR LANG – “Something Has Changed” (Dirty Hit, UK)
MY LIFE AS ALI THOMAS – “Rinn’” (Warner Music, Thailand)
ALLDAY – “After All This Time” (Teamtrick, Australia)
JEREMY LOOPS – “Til I Found You” (Universal, South Africa)
MIDDLE KIDS – “Questions” (EMI, Australia)
7 DAYS IN ALASKA – “Hurts Like Bullets” (Sony Music, Norway)
LINN KOCH–EMMERY – “Hologram Love” (Welfare Sounds, Sweden)
THE VICES – “Looking For Faces” (Mattan Records, Holland)
THE CLOCKWORKS – “Enough Is Never Enough’” (Creation 23, UK)
GOLD MEMBER – “Nova’” (Sureshaker, Australia)
PARIS YOUTH FOUNDATION – “The Back Seat’” (Unsigned, UK)
VIVII – “One Day” (Dumont Dumont, Sweden)
STEREOTIDE – “All Together” (Unsigned, Germany)
THE TERRYS – “Our Paradise” (Unsigned, Australia)
SOPHIA KENNEDY – “Cat On My Tongue” (City Slang/Pampa Records, Germany)
RAZZ – “1969 – Conrad” (Unsigned, Germany)
POST–PARTY – “Being Honest” (Unsigned, Ireland)
IAMJJ – “Your Parents House’” (Mermaid Records, Denmark)
CATHOLIC GUILT – “Life In Three Part Harmony” (Wiretap Records, Australia)
SAM JOHNSON – “Shoulder To Cry On” (Universal Music, UK)
THE PALE WHITE – “Glue” (Unsigned, UK)
(Check out the Passport Approved Radio “Featured Artists” on the daily profile exclusively on AllAccess.com including Lyerr, Yard Act, Matilda Mann, The Rah’s and Paris Youth Foundation)