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The Deals: Aespa Partners With Warner Records; Elley Duhe Nabs ‘Seven-Figure’ Advance

Also this week: MNRK and Ruffnation launch vinyl & merch company, Saucy Santana signs with WME and more.

K-pop girl group aespa and SM Entertainment formed a global partnership with Warner Records. The first release under the deal is “Life’s Too Short,” the lead single from the group’s newly-released EP Girls – The 2nd Mini Album. This is Warner Records’ first collaboration with a K-pop group.

Music funding platform beatBread closed a seven-figure artist financing deal with “Middle of the Night” singer-songwriter Elley Duhe. The funding will provide financial freedom for Not Fit For Society, Duhe’s management company and independent label, allowing Duhe to continue developing her career outside the major label system. BeatBread gives artists and labels full control over their marketing, distribution and management without forcing them to relinquish ownership of their work. Advances provided by beatBread are repaid from a share of an artist’s streaming and airplay revenues over a period of the artist’s choosing;  touring, publishing, synch and merch revenue are untouched. Additionally, beatBread does not put limitations around how the funds are used and gives artists the freedom to choose their own marketing and distribution partners.

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MNRK Music partnered with Chris Schwartz and his Ruffnation Entertainment to launch Surface Noise Records, a new vinyl and merchandising company. MNRK will provide A&R and marketing resources, while Ruffnation, through its partnership with Studio 4 Vinyl Manufacturing, boasts dedicated vinyl manufacturing and fulfillment services that will allow for faster turnaround times of around three months, according to a press release. Surface Noise will release projects from both new and heritage acts in the urban and rock genres, with some titles distributed digitally and others only on vinyl. The label’s first release will be the vinyl version of Queens rap group Onyx’s new album “Onyx Versus Everybody,” which was released digitally in mid-May. Other forthcoming releases include new projects from Ultramagnetic MCs and Harlem rapper Nym Lo.

“Material Girl” and “Walk” singer Saucy Santana signed with WME for representation across music, film, television, digital and more. Santana is signed to RCA Records and additionally represented by StreamCut.

Beatport acquired LabelRadar, a platform that provides labels with access to artist demos and helps get artists signed. The deal will allow Beatport to support artists and labels early on and further connect music services to the Beatport ecosystem. The companies previously collaborated to host remix competitions featuring Carl Craig, Tiësto and Giolì & Assia through Beatport’s “Opportunities” feature, which will continue to be developed following the acquisition.

In partnership with music metaverse gaming platform PIXELYNX, Beatport also released a limited derivative collection of the companies’ Synth Heads NFTs in partnership with U.K. techno festival Junction 2. The new collection offers fans a key to unlock special access and experiences at the Junction 2 festival, which is slated for June 18 and 19. Synth Heads NFT owners will also get exclusive access to benefits including day passes to Junction 2, exclusive vinyl releases, merch from Beatport and Junction 2 and ongoing access to ticket drops. The new Synth Heads collection will be limited to 300 NFTs total with minting priced at 0.15 ETH (roughly $234 USD); holders of five random Synth Heads will also receive a “Golden Ticket” providing full access to Junction 2 across both days in addition to other special perks.

Warner Music Spain and Dolby Laboratories entered a partnership that saw the label install a new Dolby Atmos-equipped recording and mixing studio, as well as two listening rooms, in its Madrid headquarters known as The Music Station.

Partisan Records signed London-based supergroup Ezra Collective, which features drummer Femi Koleoso, bassist TJ Koleoso, keyboardist Joe Armon-Jones, saxophonist James Mollison and trumpeter Ife Ogunjobi. The band’s new single, “Victory Dance,” was released Tuesday (June 7) with an accompanying video.

IndieFlow, a platform that provides indie artists with the tools to organize, manage and grow their careers, raised $4 million in new funding led by State of Mind Ventures, with participation from Oryzn Capital, StreamElements co-founder Or Perry, 5 Eyes Ventures, TechStars and Moshe Gaon. The funds will be used to grow the IndieFlow team and accelerate the company’s growth.

604 Records signed an exclusive Canadian distribution deal with Warner Music Canada. Founded by Jonathan Simkin and Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger in 2001, 604 Records brings its roster of artists to the deal, including Carly Rae Jepsen, Marianas Trench, Coleman Hell and Jojo Mason.

TOLEDO signed with Grand Jury Music and released their first single for the label, “L Train,” on Monday (June 6). Comprised of Dan Álvarez de Toledo and Jordan Dunn-Pilz, the duo was included in Spotify’s Fresh Finds artist development program last year.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, along with their ownership team at Fenway Sports Group, have selected OVG360 to manage, book and operate PPG Paints Arena. The previous management agreement with ASM Global expires on June 30. Through the deal, OVG360 will make private investments into the arena to improve the fan experience and operational infrastructure. It will also retain the venue’s existing local management team and arena workers, including all union relationships.

B2B music licensing subscription service Feed Media Group signed a licensing deal with Songtrust. Under the agreement, songs for which Songtrust administers publishing can now be made available on Adaptr, Feed’s subscription-based platform that offers music to startups.

Sample-clearing digital service Tracklib named UnitedMasters a preferred distributor through a collaboration supporting automated digital revenue payments directly to artists. Under the deal, Tracklib-sampled tracks distributed through UnitedMasters will now automatically report to Tracklib and pay out to the correct parties. Tracklib will also join UnitedMasters’ Producer Exclusives.

DoorDash has signed on as ASM Global’s “On-Demand Delivery Platform” partner under a long-term deal. The partnership will launch at ASM’s North American arenas, stadiums, theaters and convention centers in the coming months and allow fans to skip lines by giving them the option of ordering DoorDash services within the arena for pickup. While on-site, fans can scan a QR code to download or open their DoorDash app to access the venue’s concession menus and “premium experience options,” according to a press release. The partnership kicks off at the Toyota Arena in Ontario, California, on June 11.

Nettwerk Records signed electronic artist/producer Ark Patrol, jazz singer/saxophonist Braxton Cook and alt-R&B artist/producer kerri. Ark Patrol’s first single on the label is “Hold On” with Veronika Redd, while kerri’s is “only1.”

Live Nation made a strategic investment in Everything Legendary, a Black-owned and operated plant-based meat company. Everything Legendary will now be the featured plant-based burger at many of Live Nation’s venues and festivals in the U.S., including all House of Blues restaurants.

Country-pop singer-songwriter Casi Joy signed with Vere Music. Her new single, “Everything’s Fine,” will be released along with a music video on June 17. She’s managed by Ron Stone and Richard Ellis of Gold Mountain Entertainment.

Web3 platform anotherblock, which allows fans to purchase co-ownership of music tracks, raised $2.5 million in a funding round led by Nordic VC Inventure, as well as Dune.xyz’s Fredrik Haga, Centrifuge.io founder Maex Ament and blockchain research and investment company StableNode. Joining them are producers and artists including DannyBoyStyles, as well as labels and publishers who participated in the previous round. Anotherblock will begin offering its first NFTs later this year.

Country singer-songwriter Mackenzie Carpenter signed with G Major Management. The announcement follows the release of “Can’t Nobody,” her first release on The Valory Music Co.

BMLG Records signed country singer-songwriter Shane Profitt in partnership with Chris Janson’s Harpeth 60 Records. Profitt previously signed a publishing deal with Janson’s Old Tom Music Publishing.