British manager Sarah Stennett — whose Turn First company represents Zayn Malik, Iggy Azalea, Ellie Goulding and Rita Ora — is close to inking a joint venture with Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Billboard.
The deal would position Stennett to include her artists in a variety of Access’ businesses, which include film (AI, and Blavatnik also has an interest in Icon Pictures), music (Access acquired Warner Music Group in 2011), streaming services (Access is an investor in Deezer and, via Warner, Spotify) and multiple holdings in hotels and the fashion industry. The pact would allow Stennett’s artists multiple options for exposure and income without the baggage and limitations of a traditional label deal, or multiple separate deals covering each industry.
Reports of the deal came as a surprise to some, considering that Stennett formed Turn First with backing from Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge and none of Stennett’s main artists are signed with Warner. But, as variety is the spice of life, diversity is a key to business.