Skip to main content

The Deals: Atlantic Tightens Its Artist Partner-ship, Jay-Z Invests In Climbing Machines

A roundup of notable music industry deals from the past two weeks, including Atlantic Records' partnership extension with Artist Partner Group.

Artist Partner Group and Atlantic Records have announced a new phase of the partnership the companies originally struck in 2012. Under the updated pact, Artist Partner artists signed under the original agreement will be brought fully into the Atlantic fold and managed directly by the label.

Additionally, Artist Partner Group has formed a new distribution agreement with Warner Music Group’s indie artist and label services arm ADA as an additional channel partner for future signings.


Artist Partner Group’s sister music company, Artist Publishing Group, will continue to publish Artist Partner artists signed to Atlantic, which include Charlie Puth and Pink Sweat$, as well as songwriters and producers not signed to Atlantic including Madison Love, Taz Taylor and 24kGoldn.

Under the joint venture with Atlantic, Artist Partner Group has helped launch artists including Puth, Kehlani, YoungBoy Never Broke Again and Ava Max.

Jay-Z has invested in CLMBR, the fitness startup producing vertical climbing machines for in-home use. The mogul-rapper has joined tennis ace Novak Djokovic on an investment team ahead of the 2021 launch of two new climbers for the company, dubbed CLMBR Connected and CLMBR Pure. “Their participation continues to build on CLMBR’s reputation as an innovator in the fitness and lifestyle industries,” the company said on Thursday (Nov. 19).

CLMBR machines (see image, above) feature large-format touch displays and “an integrated audio system that can fill an entire room with sound, enhancing excitement for the user.” A companion app helps users keep track of vertical feet climbed and other workout targets during and after the instructor-led classes.

Other investors in CLMBR include YouTube co-founder and former CEO Chad Hurley and exercise physiologist Marco Borges.

“We are excited to work with Jay-Z and Novak to bring the best modality in fitness to consumers,” said Avrum Elmakis, founder and CEO of CLMBR. “Unlike bikes, treadmills, and rowers, CLMBR has less impact on the joints while providing the most efficient calorie burn per minute of any machine in the marketplace. CLMBR disrupts the way that people work out and offers something new in a segment that has not seen a lot of meaningful innovation, and I’m excited to share the machine with consumers around the world as we become the leader in the connected fitness market.”

Arista Records has signed singer and rapper Princess Nokia.

“Princess Nokia is a groundbreaking artist with a truly unique and defined vision, and has already made considerable strides in her career on a global scale,” said Arista president and CEO David Massey. “She is an artist that can bridge the gap between some of Arista’s most iconic signings of the past and pave the way for the label’s new era. We look forward to working with her and her team to reach even greater heights together.”

In February, Nokia released two albums simultaneously: Everything Sucks and Everything Is Beautiful. The former album spawned the track “I Like Him,” which went viral on TikTok over the summer with more than 1.6 billion views across 2.3 million videos, including one created by New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Creator membership platform Patreon and podcasting giant Acast have struck a partnership that will make patron-only podcast content available across several major podcast platforms.

Through a single dashboard powered by Acast, podcasters on Patreon can now publish content via a private patron-only RSS feed to podcasts apps including Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Pocket Casts, Overcast, Acast and more. Podcasters will also be given access to Acast data and insights about their listeners and patrons, while more easily driving patron and paying subscriber acquisitions by linking to their Patreon membership within public episode descriptions across podcast players.

“All creators should be able to reach the audience their content deserves, and to be fairly compensated for that,” said Leandro Saucedo, chief business and strategy officer at Acast. “Alongside Patreon, we’re taking our biggest step to date in our mission to support the global creator community, helping podcasters get their content out to more people. Creators thrive in an ecosystem where they can freely create, connect with their audiences, and make a living from their work across any platform — and this collaboration is all about supporting and enabling that.”

Acast’s technology will be made available to all Patreon podcasters this month following a private beta with creators of podcasts including Sleep With Me and 90 Day Gays.

The brand partnerships division at Warner Music UK (WMUK) has rebranded to WMX, reflecting its new status as WMUK’s in-house brands team. Under the new structure, which emphasizes six core pillars – talent, strategy, creative, campaign management, production and amplification – WMX will engage with WMUK artists on campaigns designed to “deliver both commercially and culturally for both the artist and the brand,” according to a release, while having greater access to company data.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to bring a strategic approach to creative, talent work, production, campaign management and media all under one roof,” said WMX senior vp Bob Workman in a statement. “I’m excited that WMX places independent creative thinking at the forefront of our offering and that we’ve been able to bring this to fruition in 2020 when, more than ever, the marketing landscape for both brands and artists asks for engaging narratives that contribute to social and cultural discourse.”

Since its founding, WMX has worked with brands including Clarks Originals, Red Bull, Samsung, Ellesse, Pepsi, Beats, Heinz, Levi’s Music Project and Sony Electronics. Among other partnerships, the division’s recent Heinz campaign with Ed Sheeran resulted in a new ketchup, “Edchup,” that was sold in 60,000 stores worldwide.

The WMX concept and logo came from a collaboration with consultancy firm The Rapids and creative design agency The Regular Practice, respectively.

Benjamin Ruttner, one-half of electronic duo The Knocks, has launched Black Clay, his new electronic music imprint and joint venture with ADA/Warner Music. The imprint will release the first album from his new solo project, Holiday87, on Dec. 11.

Black Clay is led by Ruttner along with his Knocks collaborator James Patterson and their longtime manager Steve Kopec. Ruttner previously founded the indie lable HeavyRoc Music, which helped launch the careers of acts including Sofi Tukker, Blu DeTiger and St. Lucia.

As part of the Knocks, Ruttner has released two albums and several EPs and has written and produced for artists including Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Carly Rae Jepsen and Liam Payne.

B2B music licensing marketplace Songtradr have acquired the UK-based boutique sync licensing company Cuesongs, which represents over 150 independent labels and publishers.

Founded by Peter Gabriel, Cuesongs offers a catalog of over 20,000 tracks from UK and European artists including Knucks, Flux Pavilion and Demob Happy. The service is used by music supervisors, producers, agencies, and content creators to match music with premium content.

The CueSongs acquisition is the first by Songtradr since the company completed its recent Series C funding round of $30 million, valuing the company at $165 million.

Jazz guitarist and composer Pat Metheny has signed a recording agreement with BMG’s new label Modern Recordings, which was launched in Nov. 2019 to capitalize “on the growing international appetite for new leftfield music arising out of the classical and jazz worlds.” The deal marks Metheny’s first new label home in over two decades.

Metheny has released over 40 albums and won 20 Grammys in 12 different categories. Since launching his career in 1974, he has performed with artists including David Bowie, Herbie Hancock and Ornette Coleman. In 2013, he was inducted into the Downbeat Hall of Fame and in 2018 he became an NEA Jazz Master, the highest honor awarded to jazz musicians in the U.S.

R&B singer Karyn White has signed hip-hop artist and songwriter Akbar to her new record label, Supernova Unlimited. Akbar’s debut single, “YRBG (Young Righteous Black Girl),” was released by the label last Friday (Nov. 13).

“Akbar is a gifted lyricist and prolific songwriter that will be a breath of fresh air for the culture,” said White in a statement. “Supernova Unlimited is a dream come true for me and I’m excited to continue making meaningful contributions to music by supporting the new generation of Black creatives.”

Akbar is slated to release his debut project next year.

Indify, an online marketplace that matches emerging artists with their teams and previously helped launch the career of singer-songwriter Khalid, has struck a partnership with independent pop artist Leah. Under the agreement, Indify will connect Leah – who was recently backed by Reddit co-founder and Indify investor Alexis Ohanian on the platform – with resources in exchange for profit-sharing on future earnings. She will retain control of her masters.

Based in L.A., Leah (a.k.a. Leah Kate) is best known for her 2019 debut EP Impulse and tracks such as “bad idea” and “fuck up the friendship.” She released her latest EP, Used to This, in July and is working with Ohanion on her forthcoming single releases, including “Grave,” which dropped on Oct. 23. Her music has been featured on multiple top Spotify playlists, including New Music Friday, as well as on TV shows such as Freeform’s The Bold Type and MTV’s The Hills: New Beginnings.