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Publishing Briefs: X Ambassadors Go Steady With Warner Chappell, Secretly Declares War on Drugs

A rundown of the latest moves in publishing, including admin deals for X Ambassadors, Grizzly Bear, The War on Drugs and more.

X Ambassadors have signed a worldwide administration deal with Warner Chappell.

Comprised of lead vocalist Sam Harris, keyboardist Casey Harris and drummer Adam Levin, X Ambassadors’ chart hits have included “Renegades” and “Unsteady,” which peaked at No. 17 and No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, respectively. The group has additionally co-written and produced cuts for Lizzo — including the Grammy-winning “Jerome” as well as “Cuz I Love You” and “Heaven Help Me” — and collaborated with Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Imagine Dragons, Logic and Ty Dolla $ign on the Hot 100 hit “Sucker for Pain” written for the film Suicide Squad. They additionally worked on the soundtracks for Game of Thrones season 8 and this year’s Call of the Wild starring Harrison Ford, which featured the band’s song “Great Unknown.”

X Ambassadors broke out with their platinum-certified debut album VHS in 2015, which peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard 200. That was followed by the 2019 album Orion and the 2020 EP Belong. They are currently working on a new album and in May released the single “Zen,” from which the band is donating all merchandise proceeds to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, a nonprofit benefitting the Black transgender community.


Secretly Publishing has signed global administration deals for the catalogs and future works of a number of Fort William Artist Management artists, including Beirut, Dehd, Grizzly Bear and The War on Drugs, marking a new partnership between the companies.

The deal — which includes the full catalogs for The War on Drugs and Grizzly Bear and partial catalogs for Beirut and Dehd — also encompasses the work of songwriters including Adam Granduciel, Anthony Lamarca, Jason Balla, Emily Kempf, Christopher Bear, Chris Taylor, Daniel Rossen, David Hartley, Edward Droste, Fred Nicolaus, Jon Natchez, Robbie Bennett and Zach Condon.

Secretly Publishing is part of the Secretly Group, which notably released the first three albums and first two EPs by The War on Drugs via its Secretly Canadian label. Last year, Secretly Publishing hired its first dedicated publishing A&R, Melanie McClain, who has trained her focus on diversifying the roster with Black voices and helped contribute to a 60% growth in publishing revenue for the company and a repertoire increase that should reach nearly 50% in 2020 alone.

Warner Chappell has signed a worldwide administration agreement with rock band Greta Van Fleet for future releases.

Comprised of vocalist Josh Kiszka, guitarist Jake Kiszka, bassist Sam Kiszka and drummer Danny Wagner, Greta Van Fleet scored a breakthrough with their 2017 EP From the Fires, which won the Grammy for Best Rock Album. The EP’s first single “Highway Tune” held the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s U.S. Mainstream Rock Songs chart five weeks in a row, while “Safari Song” also peaked at No. 1 on the tally. Their 2018 debut full-length studio album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and spawned two more Mainstream Rock Songs No. 1s: “When the Curtain Falls” and “You’re the One.”

Greta Van Fleet’s latest single, “My Way Soon,” was recently released on streaming platforms.

Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) has signed The Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft to a global administration deal.

Ashcroft presided over The Verve during the peak of the band’s success in the 1990s, when they released the albums A Storm in Heaven, A Northern Soul and Urban Hymns. The latter minted the iconic single “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” which peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Verve’s fourth album, Forth, reached No. 23 on the Billboard 200, after which Ashcroft launched a solo career with the albums Alone with Everybody, Human Conditions, Keys to the World, These People and Natural Rebel.

Ashcroft has received two Ivor Novello Awards for his work: Songwriter of the Year in 1998 and Outstanding Contribution to British Music in 2019.

Kobalt has renewed its worldwide deal with songwriter, producer and DJ Teddy Walton, who co-wrote and co-produced Travis Scott’s recent Hot 100 No. 1 single “Franchise” feat. Young Thug and M.I.A. The agreement covers administration, synchronization and creative support for Walton’s current catalog, upcoming debut solo album and other future works.

Walton’s catalog includes Kendrick Lamar’s “LOVE” and “King’s Dead,” as well as tracks by Post Malone, Bryson Tiller, Drake and Nipsey Hussle, among others. His debut album, which is slated for release later this year, was preceded by the single “NO LOVE IN AMERICA” this summer.

Warner Chappell Nashville and the newly-formed Madfun Music have signed a global co-publishing agreement with songwriter Thomas Archer.

Madfun Music is an arm of Alicia Pruitt’s talent management company Madfun Entertainment (in association with Red Light Management). The new deal, which expands the previously-established partnership between Madfun and Warner Chappell Nashville, covers all future releases for Archer, who recently crafted three Billboard Country Airplay chart No. 1s: Jason Aldean’s “Got What I Got” and Luke Combs’ “Lovin’ on You” and “Hurricane.” He also co-wrote Walker Hayes’ Country Airplay Top 10 hit “Your Broke Up With Me” and has scored additional cuts for Mitchell Tenpenny, Dustin Lynch and others.

Sony/ATV Nashville has signed country singer, songwriter and artist Nate Smith to a global publishing deal.

Smith is known for his debut EP Reckless and its popular single “Wildfire,” which has racked up 9 million streams on Spotify and 2 million views on TikTok. He has been collaborating with top Nashville songwriters on new music and recently released the new single “Under My Skin.”

Originally from Paradise, California, Smith wrote the song “One of These Days” as a tribute to his hometown, which was devastated by a 2018 wildfire. He recently signed a management deal with Chief Zaruk and Simon Tikhman at The Core Entertainment in Nashville.

Grammy-nominated Nashville singer-songwriter Jon Nite has signed with SESAC for representation.

Nite has penned hit songs for country stars including Gabby Barrett, Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan and Kenny Chesney. In April, Barrett’s “I Hope,” which Nite penned with Zachary Kale, became the first debut single by a woman to top Billboard’s Country Streaming Songs chart. This week, the song also topped Billboard’s Adult Pop Songs tally with a remix by Charlie Puth.

Other hits written by Nite include Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert’s “We Were Us,” Jake Owen’s “Beachin’” and Luke Bryan’s “Strip It Down,” “What She Wants Tonight” and “Knockin’ Boots.” He is signed to Sony/ATV.

Songwriter, producer and musician Cass Lowe has renewed his global publishing agreement with Sony/ATV U.K. that covers both his catalog and future releases.

Lowe is known for helping craft singles including Snakehips’ “All My Friends” feat. Tinashe and Chance the Rapper (for which he won the Ivor Novello award for Best Contemporary Song), Charli XCX’s “Boys” and Rudimental’s “Sun Comes Up” feat. James Arthur. Most recently, he was behind the single “Miss U” by Jax Jones, which was released Oct. 9.

Sony/ATV Nashville has signed country band Restless Road to a global publishing deal.

In addition to the band’s output as artists, the three members of Restless Road — Zach Beeken, Colton Pack and Garrett Nichols – have established themselves as songwriters with cuts for Rascal Flatts, Granger Smith and others.

The history of Restless Road began when Pack and Beeken met on The X Factor’s third season, where they joined teams together as solo artists; while on the show, they also met future collaborator Kane Brown (Nichols joined the group in 2015). Their self-titled debut EP, which includes the single “Take Me Home” feat. Brown, was released in February.

Sony/ATV and Sony Music Masterworks will jointly release Steve Levine’s soundtrack to the video game Hyperbrawl Tournament under the One Sony initiative, which is working to foster collaboration between Sony’s network of businesses.

The album, which is available now, features music written by Levine for the forthcoming game, which was released for the PlayStation 4 and other gaming consoles this Tuesday (Oct. 20).

“I’m delighted to be involved with Sony/ATV and Sony Masterworks on this project,” said Levine in a statement. “I truly believe that the One Sony initiative presents new opportunities for both the publishing and the sound recordings on a global level. As the record producer for this soundtrack, the game company Milky Tea encouraged my sonic and creative energies to flow from the initial musical sketches to the epic final mixes.”