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Music Industry Moves: Universal Nashville, Warner Nashville Up Execs

A new cryptocurrency called Chakra Coin, launching Monday, Nov. 8, has the backing of singers Dez Fafara and D. Randall Blythe (pictured), of the metal bands Coal Chamber and Lamb of God, respectively. The currency — a decentralized, deflationary fully community-owned token — is designed to “put your money where your mouth is” and invest in charitable causes fostering a fairer economic standard of living.

“I’m a believer in Chakra Coin,” said Fafara, who’s also a cofounder of Oracle Management, which represents such acts as Cradle Of Filth and Jinjer. “We started this venture to create a community of giving back and paying it forward. I will donate partial proceeds to multiple charity organizations. I hope that everyone who participates in Chakra Coin will do the same, creating a better world and a more cohesive existence for everyone involved.”

Adds Blythe: “The potential of blockchain technology, including DeFi and cryptocurrencies, to create a more equitable system of wealth distribution is extremely intriguing to me. It is my hope that being involved on the ground floor with a cryptocurrency community that holds a charitable component as one of its core tenants will be one small step towards creating a fairer, more altruistic economic system for everyone.”

The two frontmen are longtime friends, and while exhibiting business acumen from their years in music, both note that they are not financial advisors and that cryptocurrencies are still a highly volatile investment. “Dogecoin, Shiba Inu, Safemoon, and all of the stuff happening with cryptocurrencies is immensely exciting,” says Fafara. “My hope is that Chakra Coin will encourage others to share the wealth with the less fortunate.”

+ Universal Music Group Nashville has promoted Annie Ortmeier to SVP of streaming marketing, where she’ll be in charge of all DSP relationships, as well as overseeing global audio and video streaming marketing strategy for the label group’s entire roster around the world.

Her most recent role at the company was as VP of marketing – digital accounts, after joining UMG Nashville in 2013 as director of digital marketing. Prior to that, Ortmeier had stints with Big Machine and Live Nation.

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Annie Ortmeier of Universal Music Group Nashville

Said Mike Harris, UMG Nashville’s EVP-COO: “Over the years Annie’s industry knowledge, leadership and dedication has played a large part in UMG Nashville’s overall success. Having Annie oversee all streaming and video strategy going forward is the perfect fit to position both UMG Nashville and artists for continued success in the future.”

+ Warner Music Nashville has upped three executives within its A&R department, with Stephanie Davenport being elevated from director to senior director, Jason McColl getting a bump from from manager to director and Mackenzie Blake moving up from assistant to project coordinator.

The three will continue reporting to EVP A&R Cris Lacy, who said, “In what I would consider one of the toughest seasons for the entire industry, every person in our A&R department has demonstrated how industrious, innovative and dedicated they are. They have leaned into the challenges of this changing climate and have been instrumental in growing and developing our roster. Stephanie, Jason and Mackenzie, along with Scott Hendricks and Rohan Kohli, form the perfect A&R team.”

Davenport joined WMN 10 years ago as a coordinator after starting out at WME. McColl came to Warner Nashville three years ago from Universal Nashville; he’s been managing the label’s catalog and is transitioning toward traditional A&R as well in the new job. Blake has been at the company for two years after jobs at Live Nation and, before that, WME. Artists the three work with include Drew Parker, Jessie James Decker, Ian Munsick, Randall King and Tyler Braden.

+ Hotly tipped Florida pop-punk outfit Meet Me @ the Altar has signed a publishing deal with Hipgnosis Songs Group & Big Family Music. The group released its debut major label EP, “Model Citizen,” on Fueled by Ramen in August.

“We’re thrilled to welcome the ladies of MM@TA to the Hipgnosis/Big Family community,” says co-president Casey Robison. Co-president Damon Bunetta adds, “They’re truly one of the most talented new bands redefining rock music today.”

+ Jovan Polanco has joined the Live Nation Concerts division, the company has announced. In his new role, Polanco will be focused on booking artists and talent throughout the southeast region in the U.S., as well as working on national tours across hip-hop/R&B, pop and Latin. Polanco will also continue to run his independent artist management and festival production company, Swerve Presents, which he launched in 2015.

Polanco will be joined by Andrew Jones, who will take on a production role at Live Nation Concerts. Jones previously served as Director of Internal Affairs for Swerve Presents.

“We are all very excited to have Jovan join the Live Nation team. He comes to us with a great passion and enthusiasm for live music,” said Brittany Flores, President of Miami for Live Nation Concerts. “I have no doubt he will continue to grow our local Hip-Hop/R&B and Latin business in Miami and the entire Southeast U.S. region.”

+ Primary Wave Music has acquired a stake in the music publishing catalog of singer-songwriter Mike Scott of long-running Scottish group the Waterboys. Terms of the comprehensive deal include a share in all publishing rights and income streams, as well as master rights and income streams owned by Scott. Included in the deal are a number of Scott’s biggest hits for the band including “Fisherman’s Blues” and “This Is the Sea,” as well as their best-known song, “Whole of the Moon.” Primary Wave Music will also maintain an ongoing partnership with Scott to manage all assets owned by the musician.

“I’m thrilled to partner with a great company like Primary Wave,” Scott said. “They are an ally and a resource the Waterboys has long sought after. I like their energy; their style and I’m honored to be part of the fabulous Primary Wave artists’ community alongside some of my all-time favourite musicians. I look forward to seeing what creative mischief and adventure we can get up to together.”

+ A2IM (The American Association of Independent Music) has elected three new members to its Board of Directors: Mariah Czap, co-GM of Yep Roc; Victor Zaraya, COO of Concord; and Heather Johnson, CEO of Ninety9lives, who moves to the full A2IM board from the advisory board.

The previous year’s outgoing board members include Laura Ballance of Merge Records; Tony Kiewel of Sub Pop Records (and current chair of the A2IM Board); and Rosie Lopez of Tommy Boy.

The organization’s 2021/22 Board of Directors also includes:
Marie Clausen – Ninja Tune
Steven Hill – Warp Records
Lisa Levy – Robbins Entertainment
Madeline Nelson – Heads Music
Martin Mills – Beggars Group
Louis Posen – Hopeless Records
Darius Van Arman – Secretly Group
Zena White – Partisan Records

Thursday, Nov. 4

On the heels of Peloton‘s recent initiative to provide in-flight exercise and meditation offerings to Delta Airlines passengers, the home fitness giant has announced a new alignment with Spotify. The Workout Hub playlists will be curated by Peloton instructors and include a variety of disciplines, among them: running and strength classes. (Read more on Peloton’s blog.)

Additional features, like a “find your instructor” quiz, are also being rolled out along with 11 classes featuring popular Spotify playlists like Today’s Top Hits, Door Knockers, Lofi Beats, Indigo and Baila Reggaeton.

+ Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and artist and songwriter-producer blackbear have signed with ASCAP. Said Levine: “ASCAP is without a doubt the best at what they do. They’re champions of the greatest songs in the world and I am happy to be in business with them.”

“Adam’s craft as a songwriter has made Maroon 5 one of the top groups of all time on the airplay charts,” added ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews. “[blackbear] has managed the rare feat of conquering the pop, rock, R&B and hip-hop charts with his songs in just a few short years. We are thrilled to have both of these incredible artists join the ASCAP family and to help support and nurture their future success as they continue to create some of the world’s best-loved music.”

Tuesday, Nov. 2

+ Fast-growing indie Create Music Group has acquired Nirvana Digital, a Mumbai-based company that is one of the largest YouTube Enterprise partners in India. The company has a subscriber base north of 200 million and it provides monetization, distribution, rights management services to artists, labels, film and television and other content owners. Together the two companies now exceed 25 billion streams per month.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the acquisition is the first of a planned $50 million investment Create is making in India and the broader region in Asia over the next several years. More than half of India’s 1.3 billion population is under the age of 25 and more than 94% of online consumers in India listen to music.

As part of the acquisition, Nirvana Digital co-founders Manu Kaushish and Pinakin Thakkar have been named president and COO of Create Music Group India, respectively.

“India is without a doubt one of the most exciting growth territories in the global music and media market,” said Create Founder and CEO, Jonathan Strauss. “We’ve been looking for the right way to build our business in India for some time now, and after being introduced to the Nirvana Digital’s co-founders and seeing the parallels between our two companies, we felt the right move was to acquire them and supercharge our entry into India with one of its most forward-thinking new media companies.”

“Create works with the most recognizable artists and record labels in the world,” said Kaushish, who is based in San Francisco. “Create’s relationships, technology and capital will help us fuel growth for Indian artists and record labels who will gain access to a global distribution and monetization on major platforms including iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music as well as Indian platforms like JioSaavn and Gaana.”

Pinakin Thakkar commented:  “Similarly this deal opens the doors for Create’s U.S. clients to access India’s market of nearly 700 million young people and bring Create’s globally recognized brands including Flighthouse, which is the most followed creator channel on TikTok, to India.”

Monday, Nov. 1

Four-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Sam Smith has signed an exclusive worldwide publishing agreement with Tim & Danny Music and Warner Chappell Music through a new joint venture, covering all future works. Smith is known for a long list of chart-topping, influential hits such as “Stay With Me,” “I’m Not The Only One,” “Lay Me Down,” “Too Good at Goodbyes” and more.

The deal is the first signing to come from Tim & Danny Music and Warner Chappell Music’s new long-term publishing partnership.

Said Smith: “I’m so excited to carry on my musical journey with Tim and Danny who have supported me since the beginning of my career, and also really happy to team up with Guy, Carianne and the Warner Chappell family. Looking forward to this next chapter of my career.”

Blacksmith noted, “Sam is an exceptional artist and one of the most impactful songwriters in music today. This next chapter with them is a significant one and continues the successful partnership we’ve had with Sam for the past eight years.”

Moot added, “Sam is truly one of the world’s greatest talents, as both a captivating performer and inspiring songwriter, and it’s wonderful to be working with them again. I’m also quite thrilled about our new business relationship with Tim and Danny, two of my oldest friends in the music industry and incredible entrepreneurs.”

+ Republic Records has named Devon Libran senior VP of visual content & production, Jim Roppo, the label’s executive VP and GM announced.

In this newly created role, Libran will oversee the creation, production, and distribution of immersive visual content for roster artists, spanning visualizers, music videos, lyric videos, and performance videos. Additionally, he will work closely with senior VP of creative content & development Chris Blackwell supporting the production of film, TV, and digital projects.

Most recently, he was VP of video & content production at Artist Partner Group (APG), where he spearheaded visual content for chart-topping multiplatinum talent such as Jason Derulo, Lil Skies, Don Toliver, and more. As an independent producer, his credits also include shorts and videos for the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, Mariah Carey and more. He is based in the Republic Records Los Angeles office.

“Devon draws on a truly unique skillset as a proven producer, savvy executive, and all-around creative,” Roppo said. “He’s able to catalyze each artist’s vision on-screen seamlessly and will be integral to producing groundbreaking content for Republic.”

+ Post Malone manager Dre London has launched a new record label, London Music Group, in partnership with music technology platform Vydia. The tech company will provide London and his team the infrastructure and tools to power the label, complete with a full suite of services that include audio & video supply chain, global distribution, analytics, rights management, detailed revenue reporting and more.

Of the partnership, Vydia CEO & co-founder, Roy LaManna says, “Dre has an innate ability to discover talent and create superstars on a global level. We’re excited to work with him and provide him the tools he needs across the board to run this new label.”

London says, “I’m thrilled to partner with Vydia for the creation of London Music Group. Vydia’s work to empower independent music labels opens doors for incredible new artists to emerge, a mission we both share.”

+ Creative Artists Agency (CAA) announced nine promotions:  Zack Borson, Kaitlyn Bruce, Alex Douma, Kara Enos, Omar Garcia, Brian Greenwood, Ariel Happe, Brad Pophal, and Jamie Shaughnessy are now agent/executives.  

The company has recently signed such new clients as Zac Brown Band, The Weeknd, JoJo Siwa, Arcade Fire, Miguel, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chvrches, Charli XCX, Stormzy, and Playboi Carti, among many others. 

The agency has also recently welcomed music agents Matt Galle, Carly James, Mike Marquis, Mike Mori, Rachel Pestik, and Adam Voith, who added artists to the agency’s roster such as Shawn Mendes, Mumford & Sons, Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend, Janet Jackson, My Chemical Romance, Bleachers, and Girl in Red, among others. 

“Given what our industry has been through over the past 20 months, we’re incredibly proud of the Touring department’s accomplishments, and are blessed to have an amazing team that stayed focused and diligent throughout. We have also been fortunate to have fantastic agents and executives join us over these past months,” said CAA’s Head of Music Rob Light. “The entire team has worked tirelessly on behalf of our clients – their creativity and teamwork continues to serve the passions, needs, interests, and dreams of the incredibly talented artists we work with. Each of the nine people joining our Agent and Executive ranks today has earned their place among our talented colleagues and we look forward to their many successes ahead.”