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Publishing Briefs: Post Malone Co-Writer Sells Catalog to UMPG, The 1975 Goes Back Downtown

A rundown of the latest moves in publishing, including UMPG's acquisition of Louis Bell's songwriting catalog and The 1975's re-up with Downtown.

Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) has acquired songwriter and producer Louis Bell‘s back catalog through early 2019. Bell also signed a global admin agreement with the company for both catalog and future works.

Bell’s lucrative catalog includes hits for artists such as Post Malone (“Rockstar,” “Better Now” and “Sunflower” feat. Swae Lee), Camila Cabello (“Havana”), the Jonas Brothers (“Sucker”) and Halsey (“Without Me”).

Bell was an instrumental force in crafting Post Malone’s most recent album, Hollywood’s Bleeding, which he executive produced; he also wrote and produced on all 17 tracks. He is a three-time consecutive Record of the Year nominee at the Grammys.

“I am thrilled to welcome Louis Bell to the UMPG family,” said UMPG chairman and CEO Jody Gerson in a statement. “He is not only an immensely talented songwriter and producer for the some of the biggest artists in the world; he is one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I know. It’s even better when you can work with good people! Our global team looks forward to providing outstanding opportunities that support his artistry and songs.”

Other recent credits for Bell not included in the deal are Miley Cyrus’ “Angels Like You,” “Plastic Hearts,” “WTF Do I Know,” “Gimme What I Want,” “Hate Me” and “Midnight Sky”; Halsey’s “Graveyard”; Taylor Swift’s “I Forgot That You Existed,” “Afterglow” and “It’s Nice to Have a Friend”; and 5 Seconds of Summer’s “Old Me.”

Bell’s deal was negotiated by Jason Boyarski of Boyarski Fritz LLP.

Downtown Music Publishing has renewed its global deal with The 1975 to manage the band’s songwriting career through its next three albums and extend the company’s rights to its existing publishing catalog and future releases.

Downtown got into The 1975 business early last year via its acquisition of Good Soldier Songs Ltd., which had the group’s publishing catalog and administration rights for songs from its 2013 self-titled debut; 2016’s I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It; 2018’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships; and 2020’s Notes On A Conditional Form.

Artist and songwriter Aya Nakamura has signed a new global deal with Warner Chappell Music in France, reupping after originally signing with the publisher in 2017. Though the previous deal was full publishing, the new one is a co-publishing agreement that will also give Nakamura the opportunity to sign writers and composers. The deal encompasses the album Aya and future works.

Nakamura scored recent chart hits in France with the singles “Plus Jamais” feat. Stormzy and “Jolie Nana” off her third studio album Aya, released by Rec 118/Warner Music France last November. Her previous album, 2018’s Nakamura, sold over a million copies worldwide on the success of its French No. 1 single “Djadja,” which charted in 36 countries thanks in part to language-specific features from Loredana (German), Afro B (English) and Maluma (Spanish).

Nakamura’s star is riding high in France off a string of hit singles, three of which are double-diamond certified, three of which are diamond certified, one of which is platinum-certified and two of which are gold-certified in the country.

Born in Bamako, Mali, Nakamura won Best Female Artist at the NRJ Music Awards in Dec. 2020 and has also received two SACEM Awards: the Grand Prix for SACEM Repertoire Abroad and the SDRM Grand Prix. Also last year, she was nominated for Best International Act at the BET Awards.

Round Hill Music has acquired the back catalogs of Canadian songwriter Jim Vallance and Billy Duffy, songwriter and guitarist with U.K. rock band The Cult.

Vallance, best known as the songwriting partner of Bryan Adams — with whom he wrote three platinum-selling albums and nine singles that reached the top 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 — began his career as the drummer and main songwriter for Canadian rock band Prism. The four-time Juno award winner’s biggest hits with Adams include “Cuts Like a Knife,” “Heaven” and “Summer of ’69.”

Vallance has additionally written hit songs for Heart (“What About Love”), Aerosmith (“Ragdoll”) and Glass Tiger (“Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)”).

Duffy and The Cult garnered hit U.K. singles with “Spirit Walker” and “She Sells Sanctuary” before gaining popularity in the U.S. with singles such as “Love Removal Machine” and “Fire Woman.” In the U.S., the band additionally scored one gold-selling album with 1989’s Love and two platinum-selling albums with Sonic Temple in 1990 and Electric in 1997.

The Cult subsequently released three more studio albums: 2007’s Born in This, 2012’s Choice of Weapon and 2016’s Hidden City, none of which are included in the agreement with Round Hill. Their forthcoming (as-yet-untitled) album will be released on Round Hill’s rock-dedicated label Black Hill Records.

Downtown Music Publishing has acquired works from the catalog of country songwriter Neil Thrasher.

The deal includes songs from artists such as Jason Aldean (“Tattoos on this Town,” “Fly Over States,” “Night Train” and “Rearview Town”), Rascal Flatts (“Fast Cars and Freedom,” “Why Wait” and “Banjo”), Randy Houser (“How Country Feels”) and Kenny Chesney (“There Goes My Life”).

Thrasher began his music career as one-half of the duo Thrasher Shiver, which released its self-titled studio album for Asylum Records in 1996. He later pivoted to songwriting for other artists and was named Songwriter of the Year at the ASCAP 2004 Country Music Awards. He also won ASCAP Country Music Song of the Year for “How Country Feels” in 2013.

Sony/ATV has signed singer, songwriter, jazz musician, and radio broadcaster Jamie Cullum to a worldwide publishing deal in the U.K., marking Cullum’s return to the company after 18 years with EMI.

Over the course of his career, Cullum has collaborated with Paul McCartney, Pharrell, Kendrick Lamar, Lang Lang and Clint Eastwood, with whom he was nominated for Best Original Song for Gran Torino at the 2009 Golden Globe Awards. He broke through with his 2003 album Twentysomething, for which he was nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album at the Grammys. His subsequent albums include Catching Tales, The Pursuit, Interlude, Momentum, Taller and The Pianoman at Christmas, which was released last year.

Red Street Publishing — the publishing division of Christian music label Red Street Records — has signed several new songwriters at the top of the new year: Kevin Rooney, Justin Unger and Caleb, Jordan and Josh Ward.

Rooney has programmed songs for Rascal Flatts, Matthew West and Zach Williams, among others. Unger, meanwhile, rose to prominence after writing the worship hit “In You Alone” as well as “This Is Freedom.” Finally, the Wards – the brother trio formerly known as Consumed by Fire – are known for writing “He Waits for Me” and “I Need You God.”

All of the new signees are actively working with Red Street Records artists on upcoming projects.