The Deals: BMG Enters Global Pact With George Harrison's Dark Horse Records, mxmtoon Signs With AWAL & More

Dark Horse BMG
Josh Giroux

L to R: Michael Kachko, SVP, Catalog Recordings, BMG US; Hartwig Masuch, BMG CEO; Dhani Harrison; Thomas Scherer, EVP, Repertoire & Marketing, BMG Los Angeles; David Zonshine; John Loeffler, EVP Repertoire & Marketing, BMG New York; Marian Wolf, VP, Global Writer Services & China, BMG

BMG has formed a new multi-faceted global partnership with Dark Horse Records, the George Harrison-founded label now led by Harrison’s son Dhani Harrison and manager David Zonshine, it was announced Wednesday (Jan. 22).

The deal will include releases from the catalogs of Dark Horse Records, Harrison's Indian label imprint HariSongs and The Clash frontman Joe Strummer’s solo output, including his work alongside The Mescaleros. Dark Horse will also release entirely new recordings through BMG including the Tom Petty estate charity single “For Real – For Tom” featuring Jakob Dylan, Dhani Harrison, Amos Lee, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson, and Willie Nelson.

Available on digital platforms beginning Friday (Jan. 24), the first slate of releases under the deal will include the George Harrison-produced Chants of India by Ravi Shankar; the live album Ravi Shankar & Ali Akbar Khan In Concert 1972; Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros’ albums Rock Art and The X-Ray Style, Global A Go-Go, and Streetcore; and AttitudesAin't Love Enough: The Best of the Attitudes. Future releases in 2020 will include compilations, live albums, and box sets featuring rare and unreleased recordings from the Dark Horse label, many of which will be available digitally for the first time.

“It is with great pleasure and excitement that I can finally announce a new chapter for Dark Horse Records in the music industry alongside our friends at BMG,” said Dhani Harrison in a statement. “The label started by my father in 1974 has been a family business my whole life (and is indeed even the reason that my parents met.) From the Indian classical Ragas of Ravi Shankar to the Rock and Roll of ‘Attitudes’ I look forward to reintroducing, to a new audience, all of those artists that my father loved so much. We will also be expanding the Dark Horse family with new artists and classic catalogues in the coming years to include a rich and varied roster of incredible musicians whom we love.”

“BMG is the perfect home for us to expand, explore and create new opportunities for iconic artists across all platforms,” said Zonshine, who added that the company will be looking to develop film and book projects under the deal.

BMG’s roster also includes catalogs by The Kinks, Nick Cave and the solo works of Keith Richards and John Fogerty. It also publishes the catalogs of the Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Jim Croce and Willie Dixon.

“Dhani and David have long been close with BMG,” added BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch. “We are delighted to formalize our partnership with the two and begin our new venture as their trusted label home. We look forward to working closer together as we develop new catalog and publishing initiatives.”

Founded by George Harrison in 1974, Dark Horse Records was established to house both Harrison’s solo work and that of other artists. The label's roster additionally includes the two-man vocal group Splinter, R&B group The Stairsteps, singer Keni Burke and late Wings guitarist Henry McCullough. HariSongs was launched by the George Harrison Estate in April 2018 to celebrate the kind of Indian classical music Harrison loved.

 


 

The Orchard has struck a new global services partnership with KondZilla, the entertainment company of Brazilian YouTube star, multimedia creator and music executive Konrad Dantas, it was announced Jan. 13.

The agreement will see The Orchard handling worldwide digital distribution for the company’s record label KondZilla Records while providing video strategy, driving engagement and managing content for the company’s YouTube channel Canal KondZilla, which currently boasts over 50 million subscribers. The Orchard will also support KondZilla’s YouTube channels through creative audience development, advertising, rights management, reporting, marketing, optimization of video viewership and monetization. The deal additionally expands the Orchard’s multi-channel YouTube network.

“KondZilla represents the Baile Funk genre and favela lifestyle,” said Dantas in a statement. “With deep roots in the authentic Brazilian culture that has been increasingly growing, I am excited to see the impact our vibrant content has around the world. The Orchard is a comprehensive company with a global reach that coincides exactly with our moment of expansion. We look forward to fostering and expanding even more global partnerships and music video productions around the world.”

In his own statement, The Orchard vp, international Erol Cichowski called Dantas “a visionary creative executive and successful entrepreneur who is at the forefront of connecting fans with dynamic entertainment across a variety of platforms. We look forward to working with him and amplifying KondZilla’s positive message and passion for Brazilian culture.”

 


 

Kobalt’s recording company AWAL has signed a global deal with singer, songwriter and producer mxmtoon, it was announced Thursday (Jan. 23). The deal will provide the 19-year-old artist with a full range of services including global marketing, campaign coordination, A&R and global distribution.

“Super excited to be working with AWAL in my next chapter as an artist!” said mxmtoon in a statement. “I believe that the company has a strong grasp on how to accomplish an artist's dreams without sacrificing creative vision along the way.”

In commenting on the deal, AWAL CEO Lonny Olinick said mxmtoon “embodies all of the attributes we look for in an artist” and is “at the precipice of global stardom.” He continued, “It’s not lost on us that she could have had any deal she wanted and we’re incredibly proud she’s chosen to continue her career with AWAL.”

mxmtoon's debut album the masquerade includes lead single “prom dress.” She previously released the EP plum blossom.

 


 

Brazilian record label GR6 has signed an exclusive global distribution deal with the independent music marketing services and distribution company Ingrooves Music Group, a division of Universal Music Group, it was announced on Jan. 15.

Founded in 2005 by its CEO Rodrigo Oliveira, GR6 is a multi-platform company that includes label, music publisher, artist management, audio/video production and touring divisions. The Sao Paulo-based company -- which has racked up over 40 million subscribers across its robust network of YouTube channels -- boasts an artist roster that includes such Brazilian stars as MC Livinho, MC Don Juan, GAAB, MC Pedrinho, MC Joao and G15.

The new deal represents Ingrooves’ expansion into Brazil, where Brazilian music industry veteran Cris Garcia Falcão has been named the company's managing director. She will function as the main liaison with GR6 and work closely with them to continue building their audience within the country and elsewhere.

“Rodrigo has built an incredible roster of artists and a deep bench of executive talent at GR6,” said Bob Roback, CEO of Ingrooves, in a statement.  “We are thrilled that he will be our partner as we look to provide new opportunities for GR6 and all of its artists around the world.”

 


 

Brazilian metal band Sepultura have signed with BMG for the release of their upcoming album Quadra in Latin America, it was announced Jan. 15. The signing is a significant one for BMG, as it expands the company's recordings business in Brazil.

“Sepultura is one of the few Brazilian bands to have enjoyed global success over decades,” said BMG Brazil general manager Jasmina Zammit in a statement. “They have achieved iconic status in the heavy metal scene and beyond. I feel very honored they have chosen BMG as their partner.”

“We signed with BMG because we believe in their modern and fair business model,” added the band, which is comprised of vocalist Derrick Green, guitarist Andreas Kisser, bassist Paulo Jr. and drummer Eloy Casagrande. “In addition, they value the past of Sepultura and believe in the future of the band.”

Formed in 1984, Sepultra have released a total of 14 studio albums, with sales of over 20 million units worldwide and 3 million in the U.S. alone. Quadra is slated for release on Feb. 7 and will be followed by a world tour launching the following month.

 


 

Downtown Music Publishing and music production company Signature Tracks have entered a strategic partnership to create a music production house that will service content creators producing TV, commercials, films, trailers and online content, it was announced Thursday (Jan. 23). The partnership will see the companies building an “upscale exclusive library” and providing opportunities for Signature Tracks clients to access collaborations with pop artists, songwriters and producers on custom scores for all forms of visual content.

“In Signature Tracks, Downtown Music Publishing has found an ideal partner,” said Downtown Music Publishing executive vp Jedd Katrancha in a statement. He goes on to cite the “savvy songwriting and production capabilities” of Signature Tracks co-founders Russell Howard, Adam Malka, and David Lasman. “I’m excited about the possibilities ahead for both Downtown’s iconic catalog and our active roster of composers and songwriters who are open to creative collaboration,” he added.

Signature Tracks has composed for clients including Netflix, NBCUniversal (Bravo, E!), Viacom (MTV, VH1), A+E (A&E, History, Lifetime), Discovery (TLC, Discovery) and Omnicom, among others.

“Signature Tracks’ partnership with Downtown Music Publishing is very exciting, as it will provide us with a truly global footprint to capitalize on the growing market for music production internationally and the increasing amount of content being produced outside of the U.S.” said Malka, also Signature Tracks’ music director, in a statement. In addition, we will be able to leverage Downtown’s impressive roster and catalog to offer our clients for top shelf artistry for their projects.”

 


 

The global free TV network Latido Music, dedicated to fans of all Latin music genres, has signed a content deal with Nacional Records, Latido executive vp and general manager Stephen Brooks and Nacional founder Tomas Cookman announced Jan. 16. The agreement will give Latido Music access to the label’s entire music video library, which includes videos by artists such as Aterciopelados, Ana Tijoux, Bomba Estereo and Nortec Collective.

“Nacional Records is a visionary and influencer in the industry with an independent spirit similar to our own,” said Brooks in a statement. “As we build Latido Music to be the home for lovers of Latin Music, we want to represent its past, present and future, in every genre and niche. Nacional Records checks all the boxes.”

Music videos from Nacional Records will rotate heavily on the 24/7 Latido Music Channel, available on connected TV platforms everywhere.

Nacional Records founder Cookman, who is now CEO of the global Latin artist platform Industria Works -- owner of both Nacional and the Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC) – added, “It is wonderful to see a new network dedicated to serving the growing global audience for our music. Video has always been a critical conduit to reaching Latin music audiences we’re very excited to be on board with Latido at the start.”

Launched in June 2019, Latido Music serves 100 million Spanish-speaking millennial and Generation Z viewers worldwide.

 


 

20-year-old songwriter and producer Max Leone has signed to The Darkroom, the label behind Billie Eilish, it was announced Friday (Jan. 17). His debut single “First Grade” -- produced by Luke Niccoli -- is the first track to be released off his forthcoming EP.

Leone, who attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music, has been playing the guitar, piano and violin from a young age. According to a press release, the EP will tell the story of “navigating a new city alone while chasing a potentially far-fetched dream.” It will explore themes of self-doubt, longing for familiarity and coping with “modern isolation” brought on by social media. His music is defined by acoustic-driven songwriting combined with “electronic-tinged, urban-pop production.”

 


 

Singer and songwriter Brianna Cash has signed to Fish Grease/Interscope Records, it was announced Friday (Jan. 17). Her music is described as a “one-of-a-kind fusion of R&B, soul, and hip-hop.”

Born Brianna Castro and discovered by producer Andrew “Pop” Wansel, Cash’s new song “Numb” features a guest appearance by Toronto rapper Tory Lanez. She previously guested on Lanez’s track “Question Is.”

“People go back to their [favorite artist’s] first album for everything,” said Cash in a press release. “I want my first album to be like, ‘Oh shit, she came out the gate with some fire. A REAL classic.’ Gotta set the bar for myself to do better.”

 


 

Singer-songwriter Ross Ellis has singed with Sony Music Nashville, the label announced Friday (Jan. 17).

“I’m so excited to join the Sony Music family! When I moved to this town five years ago, I was broke, had written maybe five songs and didn’t know a soul on music row,” said Ellis in a statement. “Now with an army of personal and professional support behind me and most importantly, God, I’m ready for what comes next on this crazy journey. And yes, that includes new music very, very soon!”

Ellis has released several songs independently including 2017’s “Home for the Weekend” and 2018’s “Ghosts.” He also co-wrote Tim McGraw’s 2018 single “Neon Church” with Ben Goldsmith and Ben Stennis. His most recent track, “Buy and Buy,” hit No. 1 on SiriusXM The Highway’s Top 30 Countdown in December and has been featured on a number of influential country music playlists on streaming services including Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon Music.

Ellis is represented by BMI and has signed to Big Deal Music for publishing. He is booked through WME.

 


 

Influential punk band Jawbreaker has signed with Hard 8/Working Group, the company announced Jan. 15. The band -- which mounted its first live show in 21 years at 2017’s Riot Fest -- will be managed by Hard 8/Working Group founder, partner and artist manager Rich Egan. According to a press release, the group has begun writing new music together.

Formed in 1986, Jawbreaker is made up of bassist Chris Bauermeister, guitarist and vocalist Blake Schwarzenbach and drummer Adam Pfahler. Cited as an influence by bands including Foo Fighters, AFI, Jimmy Eat World and Dashboard Confessional, the group has released a total of four studio albums.

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