Business

The Deals: Loki Artist Group Makes Big Investment in Title 9, Clash Gobbles Up Byte

Carmen Murray and Michael Michel
Kirk Edwards

Carmen Murray and Michael Michel

Full-service management, production, music label, and entertainment company Title 9 Productions has secured a multi-million-dollar investment from Loki Artist Group, the entertainment company established last month by music industry entrepreneurs Bob Murray, Zack Dekkaki and Ric Wake that's designed to “assist music companies with financial, business, and creative support.”

Under the arrangement, Title 9 founder and co-CEO Carmen Murray and co-CEO Michael Michel will retain ownership and continue leading the direction of the company and its clients’ careers. Alongside Loki Artist Group, the company will put a concerted focus on exploiting new business opportunities, acquisitions and investments in indie music companies and artists.

“We are an unstoppable team,” Carmen Murray said in a statement about the new partnership. “Mike and I are truly blessed and excited about the future. This is what happens when like-minded people with integrity, vision and passion come together: all things are possible. We couldn’t have found a better group of professionals to continue to build with. We’re all working toward the same purpose and goals. We now feel even more empowered to continue to develop content and artists, and to create unique opportunities while offering deals and partnership more favorable to the creators.”

“We are both humbled and in gratitude to be recognized for what TITLE 9 has become by what we have strived to accomplish,” added Michel. “Carmen and I are very excited to enter our next chapter with the incredible TITLE 9 roster of artists and visionaries, and to continue to create the highest quality of content and music that change lives with ongoing growth and success in all areas of entertainment.”

The current roster of Title 9 -- whose clients scored a total of seven Grammy nominations this year -- includes singer-songwriter and rapper Derrick Milano (“Savage” remix by Megan Thee Stallion feat. Beyonce), songwriter-producer Andre “Dre” Harris (Burna Boy’s Twice as Tall), rapper Kash Doll, musician and producer Jerry Wonda and singer-songwriter Ambré (“Forgive Me” by Chloe x Halle).

“Upon first being introduced to Carmen and Michael, I was immediately inspired by the commitment and vision that they have for TITLE 9, their clients and the growth of the company,” said Loki Artist Group CEO and co-founder Bob Murray. “As an industry veteran, Carmen Murray has always been the ‘magician behind the curtain,’ signing, developing and breaking many of the most successful music artists of the past few decades. The founders of Loki Artist Group are grateful for the opportunity to join forces with Carmen and Michael as we enter a new era in the music, film and television industry.”

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Creator monetization company and short-form video app Clash has purchased the short-form video app Byte. Under the deal, Byte will continue running as normal, with new monetization tools and features to come. The two will be released as one product sometime in the next few months, Clash co-founder Brendon McNerney told the New York Times.

Byte was co-founded by Dom Hofmann, creator of Vine, where Clash co-founder Brendon McNerney got his start as a creator, ultimately racking up over 700,000 followers. Hofmann will continue with Clash in an advisory role.

“Together, we will be able to put more power into the hands of creators so they’re able to focus on what they love without spending as much time worrying about how they’re going to make a living,” said Hofmann in a statement.

The Byte acquisition coincides with news that Clash has secured funding to accelerate the development of new creator-focused monetization tools. The fund was led by Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six, with additional funding from from M13 Ventures and Plug and Play.

“In the past years, we’ve seen more and more creators thriving when they have a direct link to their most engaged audience,” said Ohanian, founder of Seven Seven Six and former Reddit co-founder. “I was lucky enough to build one of the pillars of social media and I’m so excited to be part of this new wave through Clash. By empowering creators to foster deeper connections with their audience and earn their fair share of money, I think we’ll see better content and stronger communities.”


Downtown Music Holdings has acquired Found.ee, a comprehensive advertising and digital marketing platform that provides artists, managers and labels with tools to build, target and optimize promotional campaigns. The transaction includes the intellectual property and technology that underpins the platform.

Found.ee CEO Jason Hobbs will join Downtown after the transaction closes, which is expected to happen by the end of Q1 2021.

“Artists across the spectrum are increasingly opting for independence and taking a more active role in all aspects of their careers, especially when it comes to marketing and promotion. The technology, tools, and access Found.ee offers creators and their teams is yet another example of how the music industry continues to evolve,” said Downtown CEO Justin Kalifowitz. “Our acquisition of Found.ee, its technology, and unique expertise in both the digital advertising and music industry ecosystems, is an ideal complement to Downtown’s existing portfolio of artist and label services.”

Used by over 25,000 artists and labels across the globe, Found.ee allows users to develop custom interactive ads, related promotional tools and analytics that can improve the effectiveness of digital campaigns while allowing creators to more directly identify and engage with fans. Downtown subsidiary and Found.ee minority investor CD Baby is an existing user of the platform.

"We're so excited to join Downtown. Since day one, Found.ee has helped musicians leverage data, insights and advanced marketing tools to shape their own destiny. I truly can't imagine a better home for Found.ee, and I’m excited to continue delivering more tools that help creators of all kinds chart their own path," said Hobbs.

Downtown’s acquisition of Found.ee follows other recent acquisitions by the company, including global music distribution and analytics firm FUGA, France-based audio fingerprinting technology company Simbals and Sheer Publishing Africa.


UTA has signed social media influencer and content creator Quen Blackwell for global representation in all areas. The agency will support Blackwell in expanding her digital content and help secure new opportunities within film, TV, music, branding and voiceover.

Blackwell has 10 million followers across all of her social platforms, including 5.4 million on TikTok. Her wide-ranging content has covered fashion and beauty tutorials, acoustic guitar performances, parodies, hoverboard videos and more.

Last year, Blackwell appeared in two music videos: one for Diplo’s single “Horizon” (released under his real name Thomas Wesley) and the other for SG Lewis’ “Feed the Fire” feat. Lucky Daye. She has also partnered with brands including Amazon and SKIMS, with the latter campaign launching on Monday, Jan. 25.

Blackwell is repped by attorney Ned Sherman at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP.


Jaxsta, the world’s largest public-facing, dedicated database of official music credits, has signed an agreement to provide its API solution to the Australian-owned commercial music streaming platform Nightlife Music.

The API will allow Nightlife Music, which services more than 5,000 clients across several industries, to enhance its content management platform by integrating Jaxsta’s official credit information. This is Jaxsta’s first sale of its commercial API.

“With Nightlife Music servicing thousands of customers across many different industries, this partnership highlights the importance of deep linked music metadata across multiple industries,” said Jaxsta CEO and co-founder Jacqui Louez Schoorl in a statement. “The goal of these API solutions is to provide big data solutions for customers to enhance their operations, and we’re excited that Jaxsta will be assisting Nightlife Music in delivering a superior experience to its clients.

Schoorl adds, “We have been very pleased with the level of interest in our commercial API and continue to see it as an integral component of Jaxsta’s business model. We are distilling the many unique data requests we have received to date into a comprehensive scalable API solution that delivers these customer requirements. Jaxsta will play a role in helping Nightlife Music deliver data integrity to music suppliers and Performing Rights Organisations.”

“Our developers and content teams are excited for the potential of Jaxsta's API to ensure rights holders are accredited and paid accurately for the use of songs and sound recordings in public performance on the Nightlife Music and crowdDJ platforms,” added Nightlife Music co-owner and non-executive director Leanne de Souza.


Sony Music Nashville has signed Kat & Alex, the recently married country-Latin duo behind the song “How Many Times,” which was released in both English and Spanish versions in October. The track served as their debut release.

“Joining the Sony Music Nashville family is truly a dream come true for us,” said the couple in a statement. “From our very first meeting, this team has shown so much passion and excitement for our music, and we just know that we are going to accomplish amazing things together! We are so excited to get back in the studio and start working on new music!”


Lava for Good Podcasts, the company behind the hit true-crime series Wrongful Conviction, has signed a partnership with content network and podcast listening service Stitcher. Under the agreement, the Wrongful Conviction series and Lava for Good Podcasts’ forthcoming slate of criminal justice podcasts will be available through Stitcher on all major podcast platforms.

Hosted by Jason Flom, Wrongful Conviction has given rise to a pair of spinoffs, Wrongful Conviction: False Confessions (hosted by attorneys Laura Nirider and Steve Drizin) and Wrongful Conviction: Junk Science (hosted by attorney and Innocence Project Ambassador Josh Dubin).

Lava for Good Podcasts has several new series on tap this year, including a “deep dive into the unique challenges faced by incarcerated minors” and “an investigative series focused on tracking down the actual perpetrators who escape justice when innocent people are convicted.”


Concert promotion company Brooklyn Made has signed a deal with events promoter and services provide MaxSky to be the exclusive promoter of all rock concerts at the United Palace theater in New York City. MaxSky has worked with the venue for three years.

Opened in 1930 in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, the 3,300-seat United Palace is the fourth-largest theater in the borough. It has hosted concerts by acts including Neil Young, Adele, Bad Bunny and John Legend, among many others.

“MaxSky is proud to have helped position the United Palace as a major venue in New York City’s entertainment landscape,” said MaxSky President Robert Way in a statement. “Working with Brooklyn Made allows us to open these magnificent doors to more great artists and music lovers than ever before. We can’t wait to start hosting live shows again."


Three Six Zero has signed songwriter-producer Fraser T. Smith for global management. His direct representative out of London will be Three Six Zero partner Phil Sales.

Smith has co-written, mixed and produced singles including Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” and albums including Stormzy’s Gang Signs & Prayer. He has been nominated for two Grammys and won one, for Album of the Year for his work on Adele’s 21.


Sample-library platform Tracklib has acquired music from jazz innovator Bob James, who has been recognized as one of the most sampled artists of all time. James’ music is available on the platform now.

James, who has recorded 58 albums over five decades, has been sampled over 1,500 times by artists including Jay-Z, N.W.A., TLC, A$AP Rocky and the Beastie Boys. Songs in the deal include “Nautilus,” “Westchester Lady” and “Storm King.”

Tracklib’s current catalog includes over 100,000 cleared songs.


Jazz and R&B label Peak Records has signed a partnership agreement with Bob Frank Distribution, which has a global sub-distribution arrangement with Sony/Orchard. Forthcoming releases from Peak Records include a duet album from saxophonist Michael Lington, R&B group The Spinners, saxophonist Paul Taylor and alternative rock band Vaerisa.

Peak Records was established in 1994 by Andi Howard and Russ Freeman, founder of contemporary jazz group The Rippingtons. Over the years, its artist roster has included All-4-One, David Benoit, Peabo Bryson and Wayne Brady.


Marathon Talent Agency has signed Presley & Taylor, the country duo behind the track “Everybody Sees it.”

“I am extremely excited to welcome Presley & Taylor to the Marathon Talent family,” said Marathon CEO Peter Strickland. “Their amazing harmonies and ability to pick and write relevant songs have established a solid foundation for their careers. I look forward to furthering those successes in the years to come.”

Presley & Taylor are the flagship artists signed to James Stroud’s new label White Mustang Records, which is distributed by CMG via The Orchard. Stroud is also producing the duo.


Indie rock band The Cush, founded by husband-and-wife duo Burette and Gabrielle Douglas, has signed to Ben Harper’s new label Mad Bunny Records. In the spring, the label will release the group’s forthcoming album Riders in the Stardust Gold, which includes their latest single “Haters.”

In addition to the Douglases, The Cush consists of guitarist-keyboardist Ben Hance and drummer Austin Green. Other forthcoming singles by The Cush to be released by Mad Bunny ahead of the album's release include “Beneath the Lines”, “Chariots of Smog”, “Ajna Returns”, “Fly” and “Daydream Beach.”