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The Deals: Bitski Raises $19 Million; deadmau5 Launches Label

A list of the latest moves in publishing, including new deals for Bitski, Extreme Music with deadmau5 and more.

Bitski raised $19 million in Series A funding from investors across entertainment, sports, music and gaming. The NFT platform allows brands to create and sell NFTs through its platform as well as encouraging their clients to sell through their own channels.

Some of Bitski’s investors include Jay Brown, co-founder of Roc Nation, Jay-Z, Serena Williams, senior executives across TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter and Adobe, and more.

“I’m so excited to be able to play a small role investing in a company that is doing some really incredible things in the commercialization and accessibility of digital goods,” said Andrew Gertler of AG Ventures and Bitski investor. “Lead by an incredible founder in Donnie, Bitski has from day one had a firm vision as a platform, and is fast becoming a destination for brands and developers to plug into and easily transact in this new frontier of e-commerce.”


Bitski serves large brands including Adidas’s debut NFT release with #1 NFL draft pick Trevor Lawrence and WWE’s NFT drop with The Undertaker.

“I think of NFTs as a platform. Like web browsers in the late 90s, most NFTs are barely scratching the surface of their true potential,” said Donnie Dinch, CEO of Bitski. “NFTs unlock an imaginative, new design space for interacting with digital content. The implications around ownership and programmability are the most exciting technical developments we’ve seen in years.”

Extreme Musicdeadmau5 and mau5trap launched beathau5, a specialist EDM licensing label. Brokered by UTA, the deal will allow the Grammy-nominated producer to create his own music library.

The new label will include five albums compiled by deadmau5 as well as contributions from mau5trap artists Jay Robinson and Maison Ware. Each release will be followed by NFTs created by a visual artist who is yet to be announced.

“Extreme is an excellent partner to get our selections in the hands of the right people. We’re looking forward to working with them and providing the sonic beds for memorable placements to come,” said deadmau5, whose real name is Joel Zimmerman.

“We’re excited to help deadmau5 and mau5trap grow by entering the music library space, and Extreme Music is the ideal partner for this new collaboration,” added UTA Executive Rich Statter. “They have extensive experience in working with leading talent, and their first-class music is a sought-after product for industry professionals.”

K-pop star KATIE signed with ICM Partners for worldwide representation excluding Asia.

KATIE rose to fame following her participation in South Korean television singing competition show K-pop Star 4. After her performance of “Where You Need To Be,” the singer garnered 4 million views on South Korea’s video-sharing site Naver TV Cast and ultimately won the season. In 2019, she released her debut EP Log with a remixed version of “Remember” featuring Ty Dolla Sign.

“We are pleased to represent this amazing artist as ICM continues to grow in the rapidly evolving K Pop genre,” said Jon Pleeter, Vice President of Concerts for ICM Partners.

BBR Music Group/BMG signed Alexander Ludwig to a global recording deal.

“I’ve been drawn to Country music since I was handed my first guitar at nine years old,” said Ludwig. “Life is about the journey and I am so grateful to take these next steps in music with Loba, BBR Music Group/BMG and the community in Nashville and want to thank them for taking a chance and believing in me. I can’t wait to share this music that represents a taste of what I love about Country music.”

Ludwig is slated to drop his debut self-titled EP on May 21. The record was produced by songwriters Kurt Allison and Tully Kennedy, who are also members of Jason Aldean‘s band. The musician is also an actor, starring in films such as Lone Survivor, The Hunger Games and Bad Boys for Life and shows like Vikings and Heels.

Show Dog Nashville signed Texas singer/songwriter Kimberly Kelly.

The musician joins Clay Walker, Krystal Keith and Toby Keith on the label. She already has an EP and two independent albums under her belt, and is slated to drop her new album under the label later this year.

“She sings country music with emotion and range,” said Toby Keith. “I am big on songwriters and her talent impressed me. She’s a songwriter that has something to say.”

“I’m thrilled to have a nod from Toby and the Show Dog team, and for the opportunity to make more music! Toby has done things his way, and I feel like I’ve tried my best to do the same,” Kelly said. “I’m looking forward to having this great team behind me. I’m grateful David Macias [Thirty Tigers] came across my last ep, and believed in it and me enough to introduce me to Toby and the label.”

LiveXLive plans to acquire the print edition of Modern Drummer Publications Inc., the world’s most read drum magazine. The deal is expected to close by June 30, 2021.

The acquisition will expand LiveXLive’s growing list of distribution platforms (Modern Drummer’s podcast, Modern Drummer Festival and pay-per-view events) as well as enhance Modern Drummer’s brand.

Modern Drummer is an outstanding addition to LiveXLive’s family of franchises. Together with David Frangioni and his team, I am confident that we can substantially grow Modern Drummer’s business, brand, and reach,” Robert Ellin, LiveXLive’s chairman and CEO. “It fits perfectly into our flywheel business model by adding original content, live events, pay-per-views, podcasts, subscribers, and NFT opportunities from their vast archive of material. Our future is rooted in offering specialized content and this alliance fortifies our position in the marketplace.”

Audio streaming service Deezer invested in live music streaming startup Dreamstage, speeding up growth and expanding operations.

Dreamstage has delivered over 50 live shows and offers artists the opportunity to go beyond ticket sales and brand sponsorships by selling merch, VIP experiences and raising donations. The investment will expand the company’s range of content and grow market share.

“We believe that DREAMSTAGE is the best live music platform on the market today. It’s well placed to become the ultimate online music destination for both fans and artists. Music fans can finally enjoy an authentic concert experience that is more than just a video call,” said Deezer’s CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht. “DREAMSTAGE and Deezer share a vision of supporting talent across a wide variety of genres. Live shows provide musicians with crucial revenue opportunities during these challenging times. This aligns closely with our mission to connect artists with their fans through our Originals projects, recorded sessions and editorial content.”

“DREAMSTAGE is rapidly developing as a leading premium player in the thriving streaming concert business, creating unique moments for artists and fans to connect across the globe,” added Thomas Hesse, CEO of DREAMSTAGE. “We are excited to join forces with Deezer who share our vision to innovate and capture this massive new opportunity. Together, we will nurture and propagate the emerging Live Music Video format, and help artists grow and delight virtual audiences everywhere. We are thrilled and honored to transform live music for the long term with Deezer as a visionary entrepreneurial partner.”

Beggars Group announced a partnership in a new music supervision, licensing and composition company Colourbox Music.

Based in London and LA, the company specializes in music for film, TV, advertising and gaming. Colourbox will work with Beggars to provide new opportunities in composing to their artists, writers and composers.

“We wanted to create a much broader offering for our clients around our work in film, TV and advertising and are excited to partner with the Beggars Group – one of the world’s most respected and valued independent music companies,” said Colourbox founders Ben Turner and Simon Astall. “We’ve really enjoyed the process of collaborating with them in the past, and we are very aligned on a new company which will act independently of Beggars but have access to their catalogue, composers and artists to create new opportunities in this creative landscape.”

“As our artists and songwriters have become increasingly involved in projects across film, television, advertising and video games, music supervision has been something we have been exploring for a while now,” added Beggars CEO Paul Redding. “When Ben and Simon approached us to develop a new company that was much more than a traditional supervision company, it was an easy decision. They have a proven track record and it became immediately clear that their talent would integrate brilliantly with our record and publishing companies to deliver new opportunities for our artists and writers alongside developing an exciting new part to our global business.”

Music.com announced four new series to extend the company’s first person, artist-driven content. The episodes will include artist-penned articles, live storytelling and an archive of curated, tagged and indexed video song stories.

The company tapped artists from Republic Records for each series. Those artists are ShaylenLundJESSIASocial HousePeach PRC, Ayzha Nyree and more.

“In Republic, not only did we find the right new artists – each are undeniable stars – but they are also each easy to root for and fans will love the stories they share,” said Chris Brannen, head of artist and label relationships at MUSIC.COM. “We found a kindred spirit in the team at Republic. In the end, we are all incredibly focused on finding ways to put the spotlight on new artists. The unique spotlight that MUSIC.COM can shine is ignited by stories.”

8 Pound Gorilla Records signed SaulPaul, Elliott Park and Imagination Movers. The label is the children’s music division of comedy label 800 Pound Gorilla Records. Each artist is slated to release new projects under the new label this year.

WME signed Kidd G. Dubbed “country music’s next emo rap star” by The New York Times, the rising artist has amassed over 1.5M monthly Spotify listeners and gained attention after his viral “Letter to Juice,” where he paid homage to the late rapper Juice Wrld. He is slated to release his debut album this summer.

Capitol Music Group, Motown Records and Verizon‘s 5G Labs have partnered on an emerging tech-slash-emerging artist program with will utilize 5G and multi-access edge computing to help up-and-coming artists reach fans in new ways.

Under the deal, three Capitol and Motown music artists will use advanced content production technologies at Verizon’s 5G Lab in Los Angeles — including a 5G-powered virtual production stage, volumetric capture studio, game engine technology and a host of Extended Reality (XR) production tools — to bring their creative visions to life. The program will additionally host technology collaborations with Capitol and Motown emerging artists throughout the year.

The first event in the series, which launches May 14, will be an immersive concert experience with Motown artist TheHxliday performing his new EP The Most Beautiful Disaster. The performance — which will also leverage Supersphere’s ArcRunner, a platform that eliminates the need for post-production by inserting creative graphics and lighting in real time — will be available in 180-degree live streams on TheHxliday’s YouTube and Facebook pages, in addition to Oculus Venues and Verizon’s 5G Labs website.