Business

The Deals: Phoebe Bridgers Signs Third Artist; 'Blippi' Label Teams Up With UMG

Charlie Hickey, Muna
Jannick Frampton*

Charlie Hickey x Muna

Charlie Hickey has signed to Phoebe BridgersSaddest Factory record label with plans to release a physical version of his EP Count The Stairs. “Being able to sign Charlie is one of the reasons I started a label,” Bridgers said in a statement.

In celebration of the announcement, the 21-year-old artist released a reimagined version of his single “Seeing Things,” which features fellow Saddest Factory artists MUNA, a pop trio. “MUNA is my favorite band,” Hickey said of the collaboration. “Their songs are like a best friend who you can laugh with, dance with, cry with and do everything with. Listening to them makes me feel like the world is beautiful and like I’m not alone. They put so much love and care into it and truly expanded on what the song means to me.”

Bridgers started Saddest Factory -- a jokey phrase that sounds like the word “satisfactory” when said out loud -- back in October 2020 with her own label Dead Oceans in order to sign her favorite undiscovered artists. Hickey is just the third act to be signed to the Saddest Factory roster, joining MUNA and Claud, a Chicago bedroom pop artist.


Moonbug Entertainment and Universal Music Group have entered an exclusive global partnership wherein UMG will provide worldwide distribution, publishing and licensing for the Moonbug Music label -- covering popular kids/family music catalogs for series like CoComelonLittle Baby Bum & Blippi.

The multi-year partnership involves the partners working to reach new audiences globally and improve the accessibility of kids' music for infants, toddlers and their parents. They’ll also explore learning opportunities via optimization of voice-activated technology and in-home devices, playlisting and more, with UMG working closely with Moonbug to maximize the impact of its catalog through sync and licensing for its IP through Universal Music Publishing (UMPG) worldwide. Additionally, UMG will leverage its publishing and distribution resources and global network of partners and DSPs to bring Moonbug’s library of audio entertainment to families all over the world.

“We are delighted to partner with Moonbug Entertainment, reinforcing UMG’s position as the leading distributor and publisher of kids music globally,” said Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group. “We have seen tremendous growth in the kids and family segment in recent years, thanks to advances in streaming and voice-technology.

The agreement comes at a time when kids' music consumption is increasing dramatically across streaming services, the press release said. This is attributed to the “rapid adoption” of voice-enabled devices that allow children to engage with music at a younger age. Moonbug Entertainment Ltd. has striven to promote healthy and positive messages on their shows, teaching values like compassion, empathy and resilience.

“We could not be more thrilled to partner with a respected and influential industry powerhouse like Universal Music Group to expand the possibilities of our music content,” said René Rechtman, co-founder and CEO of Moonbug Entertainment. “Music plays a critical role not only in our company’s growth strategy but also in childhood development. We look forward to the possibilities for our already popular nursery rhymes and songs, and the new music that we’ll produce together.”


The recordings of Rudy Ray Moore, who wears the hats of comedian, singer actor and filmmaker, have been sold to independent comedy label 800 Pound Gorilla Records in a deal facilitated by SongVest. Moore died in 2008, so the deal was managed by his longtime manager Donald H. Randell, who plans to use the proceeds from the sale to produce and direct a feature film with untold stories based on his and relationship to the comedian.

The main Dolemite Comedy Catalog includes over 40 of “The Godfather of Rap’s” most famous recordings, according to the press release, along with never-before-heard, unreleased masters with outtakes from his comedy shows, instrumental tracks and more. The albums include: Eat Out More Often, The Dirty Dozen House Party, Greatest Hits, This Ain't No White Christmas, Dolemite for President, Return of Dolemite-"Superstar", 50 Years of Cussing, The Beatnik Scene, The Rudy Ray Moore Album: I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing, Live in Concert, The Player—The Hustler, Sweet Peeter Jeeter, The Turning Point, Close Encounter of the Sex Kind and The Sensuous Black Man.

“My utmost priority was to bring new life to Rudy Ray Moore’s classic comedy recordings and help further his legacy for many years to come,” Randell said. “It was the right decision to partner with Sean Peace and entrust SongVest in helping to guide me and find a perfect home at 800 Pound Gorilla Records. Ian, Ryan, and Damion and their staff really understands the genre and can deliver what Rudy Ray Moore fans want, plus they have the best infrastructure, tools, and distribution to expand the reach and grow the audience for Rudy's craftsmanship.”

Moore’s recordings, standup routines, and filmmaking were spotlighted in the 2019 Netflix film Dolemite Is My Name starring Eddie Murphy, who used to attend Moore’s shows in L.A. The film highlights the struggling comedian in 1970s LA as he hit it big with his raunch alter ego and then risked it all to take his act to the big screen. Moore's comedy -- which was laced with rapid-fire rhyming, explicit sexual language, and characters such as the pimp Dolemite -- have been sampled by legendary rappers such as Dr. Dre, Big Daddy Kane and 2 Live Crew.

“Owning a piece of history like Rudy Ray Moore's Dolemite Comedy Catalog is a dream come true,” said Ian Adkins, founding member and head of European Operations at 800 Pound Gorilla Media. “I will personally make sure the recordings live on. Our entire team is ready to bring this iconic catalog in, and find the best opportunities to get more people to laugh along with the stories of Dolemite.”


Chicago experimental artist Circuit des Yeux has signed with Matador Records, with plans to release her first project under the label, -io, in October. It’ll be the sixth album by the artist, whose given name is Haley Fohr.

An artist known around the Chicago area, Fohr used to employ a collaborative songwriting process. But going forward with Matador, she has taken a solo course of creating music and her upcoming album features self-produced orchestra, horn and percussion parts. "I was haunted by memories in the pandemic," she said about the album. "As someone with PTSD, memories are all twisted up inside of me in a way that doesn't help my higher self. Making this album was once again an exercise of trying to relieve myself of some of that darkness in a way that music has always done for me."

Fohr joins a roster including Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, Car Seat Headrest and Snail Mail in her signing with Matador. The label was founded in 1989 and is known for its collection of indie, alternative and experimental artists.


Newly launched record label foundation.fm Records (FFM Records) will partner with Warner Music UK’s Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA) to distribute all new releases. FFM was founded by Becky Richardson and Sam Eldrige in May and is an all female-led label.

“When we started foundation.fm in 2018, the record label was one of our long-term goals, so to be launching just three years later really is a dream come true,” Richardson said. “The stats are shocking with regards to female representation in the music industry on all levels and in all areas. I really hope we can help continue to make change with foundation.fm Records and I am so excited about the artists we have signed so far - watch this space!”

FFM Records is an offshoot of the independent community radio station, Foundation FM, which was set up by Richardson and Frankie Wells in 2018 to “help balance gender bias and boundaries in broadcast and champion female talent in the underground music scene,” the press release reads. So far, the label has signed Swiss abstract RnB singer/pianist MILYMA, London-based duo Lavender and contemporary R&B and alternative hip-hop artist Denaisha.

“Foundation.fm Records is an important start-up organisation in a musical world where more than half of music fans are women, but female representation in the higher ranks of the industry continues to be far lower,” said Tony Harlow, CEO of Warner Music UK. “This partnership, brought to us by Sam, will not only allow us to introduce the world to distinctive, authentic, and fresh new musical talent, but it will allow us to further our commitment to championing diverse voices. I’m looking forward to working with Becky and the team who are working hard to make the industry a better, more equitable place.”


Creative Titans has launched Creative Titans Legacy, which will aim to acquire, manage and amplify Caribbean and LATAM music catalogs. The project is a subdivision of Creative Titans, an entertainment music company currently backed by a multi-million dollar investment fund.

As part of this expansion, the company has also brought on industry executive Ed Poston to head A&R under Creative Titans Music and serve as a managing partner of Creative Titans Legacy. He will lead the charge in signing new talent for the company, working closely with Creative Titans founder Ron Telford to “identify unique catalogs in their targeted markets, with a focus on the Caribbean and Latin American diaspora,” according to the press release.

“We are excited to be in a position to help grow the legacy of incredible music across the world, to ensure their place in history with strategic development and management,” Poston said.

Creative Titans offers artist management, global music publishing and record label services, scouting talent from the Caribbean, Africa, Latin America and territories outside of North America. Its team of writers and producers are responsible for nearly 40% of the music coming out of the Caribbean and LATAM, the press release asserts, including records from Jorja Smith, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé and more. Its roster currently includes producers IzyBeats, Walshy Fire and Melo-X, along with artists David Lyn, NeriBeats, J Perry, GG, Nia V, Bassto, FuxBeats, Bling Dawg, Popeye Caution and their latest signing, Bounty Killer.


Warner Music Group’s ADA Asia has inked a partnership with Baramey Production, a music company specializing in nurturing original Cambodian talent, to increase opportunities for Baramey’s artists. This agreement -- which covers global music distribution, digital marketing and sync licensing -- marks the first time a label from Cambodia has signed a deal with a major international record company, according to the press release.

“It’s a great honor for Baramey to join forces with ADA Asia to distribute our music around the globe,” said Laura Mam, artist, founder and CEO of Baramey. “This deal is not only monumental for Cambodia’s music industry, it’ll also be transformational for Cambodian artists. When we started our company, distributing music outside of Cambodia was unheard of, and we’re excited that this partnership will enable us to amplify our team's achievements. I’m personally humbled and delighted that Baramey will be the first label in Cambodia’s history to partner with a major music company to bring the music of our country to the world.”

The Cambodian genocide of the 1970s nearly wiped out the country’s music sector, and Baramey was one of the first entertainment companies that “dedicated efforts to boost Khmer talent and revive its music scene,” the press release reads. Formed as part of the country’s “original music movement”, the organization created a platform for artists to release their songs in a domestic market that had been dominated by music piracy. Today, Baramey’s roster includes hip-hop duo Kmeng Khmer, rising R&B singer Sophia Kao and hip-hop star Vann Da.

“I believe that ADA Asia and Baramey will create a synergy that’ll write a new chapter in Cambodia’s music history,” said Chee Meng Tan, managing director at ADA Asia. “This partnership underscores ADA Asia's unparalleled efforts to be the best-in-class partner to forward-looking labels across the region."


7digital, an end-to-end digital music solutions company, has announced its partnership with Muzooka, an artist asset database. Content delivered via 7digital’s music-as-a-service platform will now be pre-mapped with Muzooka’s pre-approved database of artist images, links and other media assets in a deal that allows brands to “deliver a highly visual experience to their users via a simplified integration,” according to the press release.

“By integrating our label-approved artist assets, music services offer deeper engagement with the artists connected to their branded experience,” said Shawn Wilson, Muzooka CEO and founder. “We are thrilled to join forces with 7digital and offer this turnkey solution to maximize engagement on music streaming platforms across all industries.”
Muzooka provides a central hub to more than two million musical acts and comedians where record labels and managers control their own artist assets across multiple platforms, websites, apps and smart displays. When an update is made on Muzooka, the new content is instantly distributed across all connected platforms so that information from any source is always up to date. Muzooka has previously inked contracts with BMI and the Recording Academy, via Grammy.com.

“This collaboration between 7digital and Muzooka provides a powerful solution for our clients across streaming, B2B music, and fitness, as well as in automotive, gaming, and more,” said Paul Langworthy, CEO of 7digital. “Combined with 7digital’s core music platform capabilities, strong visual content and enhanced metadata has the capability to positively affect key consumption and audience engagement indicators. We are excited to offer this enhanced feature to help our clients bring new and differentiated experiences to market.”


Audiobridge, a mobile music recording and collaboration platform, has announced the general availability of its music creation tool. The program allows creators to upload and share their songs directly from the app to TikTok and SoundCloud in just a few easy steps, marking the first major integrations for the audiobridge platform.

The new tool boasts a slew of new features including multi-track recording, instant collaboration, track mixing, and an audio effects suite. Audiobridge CEO Matt Miller founded the company to make it easier for artists to create music on their mobile devices, and this new program is aimed to do just that. Miller, a musician and producer, thought it was too difficult to lay down ideas, play with arrangements and make music on a smartphone so he decided to make a solution that would work for people of all technical skill levels.

“We’ve seen music artists of our day break into the market by creating award-winning songs out of their bedroom,” Miller said. “Many of those have had to rely on traditional computers and sophisticated software to produce music which requires some level of expertise. Audiobridge has helped to equalize music creation by bringing intuitive software to mobile phones and making the mobile recording experience seamless, simple and accessible for everyone.”


Big Loud Records signed Dallas Smith to a global recording deal, with his first music under the new label expected this fall. His Local Hay Records imprint, formed with record producer Scott Cooke, has also entered into a joint venture with Big Loud Records with a goal to sign Canadian artists to worldwide deals.

Big Loud has managed Smith, a Juno Award and Canadian Country Music Award winner, since 2014. “We couldn’t be more excited to continue and expand our working relationship with Dallas Smith,” said Seth England, Big Loud partner/CEO in a statement. “Dallas was the first country artist Joey [Moi, Big Loud partner/record producer] and I ever worked on together. We’ve had the pleasure of watching him quickly become Canada’s biggest country star, and we look forward to helping him grow his footprint globally.”

Smith has scored more No. 1s on Billboard's Canada Country chart than any other artist. Included in these 11 chart toppers are “Some Things Never Change” featuring Big Loud labelmate Hardy. He previously recorded for 604 Records and had brief stints on Republic Nashville in 2013 and Big Loud Records’ precursor Big Loud Mountain Records in 2014.

“Working with the team at Big Loud Records and having access to integrate plans and creativity every step of the way provides me with the opportunity and immense support to continue my work and growth with a committed and focused team behind me that shares a common goal of amplifying, strategizing and succeeding in all areas,” Smith said.


Mad Bunny Records has signed singer-songwriter/actor Jake Etheridge, a Nashville artist who’s penned tracks for shows like Shameless, Supergirl, Charmed, UnREAL and Nashville. “I couldn’t be more pumped to be teaming up with Ben and Mad Bunny Records,” Etheridge said. “From the minute we first talked there’s been a real creative and philosophical connection. Been a huge fan of what he’s done and I’m honored, humbled and so excited for what’s next.”

Originally hailing from South Carolina, Etheridge brings to the label over 15 million cumulative streams and 97 thousand monthly listeners on Spotify. According to the press release, work has already begun on his next release, which is due sometime in 2022. He recently opened for label founder Ben Harper’s sold out show in Colorado at Red Rocks.

Harper, a multi-Grammy-winning musician, founded Mad Bunny in 2020 to provide a home for eclectic musicians wanting to “stay true to their creative vision.” Distributed by INGROOVES, the label is home to Birdthrower and The Cush. “We are thrilled to sign this immensely talented and exciting emerging young artist, and for the opportunity to play a part in furthering his reach and growing his audience,” Harper said. “Welcome to the Mad Bunny family Jake!”


Former Disney Channel star Kevin Quinn has signed a multi-year record deal with Capitol CMG, releasing his first single with the label “Wildfire” Aug. 13. Signing Quinn is a “coveted win” for the label, according to the press release. His signing to CMG marks Quinn’s joining a roster that includes names like Beck, Jon Bellion, Lewis Capaldi, Riley Clemons, Halsey, Niall Horan, Kari Jobe, Paul McCartney, Hillsong Music, Katy Perry, Sam Smith and more.

The announcement arrives on the heels of the Chicago-born artist’s starring role in Netflix’s new musical film, A Week Away. Quinn appeared on 11 out of 13 songs in the project’s soundtrack, which was distributed by Capitol CMG and has racked up more than 51 million global streams to date. His voice was also featured on the theme song of Disney’s “Bunk’d,” which he starred in for two seasons.

“We are so excited to be partnering with such a multi-talented artist like Kevin,” said Capitol CMG co-presidents Brad O’Donnell and Hudson Plachy in a joint statement. “From acting to songwriting, his success is driven by a raw natural talent and incredible work ethic. We are honored to team up with him to help carry his music to his fans and beyond.”


R&B trio Gabriels have signed to Elektra Records. The breakout act is comprised of former American Idol contestant Jacob Lusk and co-producers Ryan Hope and Ari Balouzian and has garnered the support of artists like Gilles Peterson, Celeste and Elton John.

The signing follows the 2020 release of Gabriels’ debut EP Love & Hate In A Different Time. Though the group is based in L.A., their music first made it big abroad before growing in popularity in the U.S. Their joining Elektra means they’ll have labelmates in Twenty One Pilots, Panic! At The Disco, Brandi Carlile and Christina Perri.


Verve Records has signed musician and composer Julius Rodriguez, a 22-year-old New York-based jazz musician whose performed with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Keyon Harrold, Dev Hynes, Gabriel Garzón Montano, Ben Williams, A$AP Rocky, Meshell Ndegeocello, Macy Gray, Braxton Cook, Laurin Talese, Victoria Canal and Roy Hargrove.

Rodriguez has recently been the subject of praise, earning featured spots in The New York Times, JAZZIZ magazine, Vanity Fair and Paste. He announced his new label home on Instagram, along with his first headlining show at famed NYC jazz nightclub Blue Note.