The Deals: Burna Boy Signs With SESAC, Waterparks & Smallpools Soak Up New Record Contracts
A roundup of notable music industry deals from the past two weeks, including Burna Boy's signing with SESAC and 300 Entertainment's signing of pop-rockers Waterparks.
Singer-songwriter and Nigerian pop star Burna Boy has signed with performing rights organization SESAC for direct U.S. representation.
Born Damini Ogulu, Burna Boy recently released his fifth studio album Twice As Tall, executive produced by Ogulu, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Bosede Ogulu. It was the follow-up to 2019’s African Giant, which nabbed Burna Boy a Grammy nomination this year for Best World Music Album.
Burna Boy’s U.S. stardom took off only recently, thanks in part to collaborations with American music stars including Coldplay’s Chris Martin (“The Monsters You Made”) and Sam Smith (“My Oasis”). He was also featured on last year’s Lion King soundtrack The Gift, curated by Beyoncé.
“With his empowering lyrics and enrapturing beats, it’s no surprise that Burna Boy is leading the way for Afro-fusion throughout the world,” said SESAC senior director of creative services Mario Prins, Sr. “His music and African roots are deeply felt—finding its way into every aspect of American Music.”
Pop-rock band Waterparks – comprised of singer-guitarist Awsten Knight, drummer Otto Wood and guitarist Geoff Wigington – have signed with 300 Entertainment, which just released their new single “Lowkey As Hell.”
Waterparks’ 2019 album FANDOM peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top Alternative Albums chart. They previously released two other albums: 2016’s Double Dare and 2018’s Entertainment. Their best-known songs include “I Miss Having Sex But At Least I Don’t Wanna Die Anymore,” “Turbulent” and “Watch What Happens Next.”
Milk & Honey have signed rising U.K. artist Tom Gregory to a worldwide management deal. Gregory will be managed by the firm’s founder and president Lucas Keller and Alex Harrow.
Gregory’s signing falls under Milk & Honey’s initiative to expand in Europe, a plan that included recent openings of offices in London and Amsterdam. Gregory was introduced to Milk & Honey by Matt James and Frank Sanders, who comprise the DJ and producer team M-22. The duo will be on “team Tom” alongside Milk & Honey, according to a release.
Heaven in a World So Cold, Gregory’s new album, was released Sept. 18. His songs include such European hits as “Fingertips,” “Run To You,” “Losing Sleep,” “Honest” and “Small Steps.”
IMPEL, the largest licensing network of independent music publishers, has renewed its partnership with Sacem for digital copyright management. The original deal was signed in April 2018.
IMPEL’s list of independent publishers includes such heavy hitters as Bucks Music Group, Beggars Music, Reservoir Music and Reach Music Publishing and encompasses works by artists including Dua Lipa, David Bowie, Beyoncé and Drake. Under the Sacem partnership, IMPEL has access to tools including its URights management platform, allowing it to analyze repertoires as it tracks performance and ensures accurate payouts.”
“In a crisis situation like the one we’re going through, with creators’ revenues dropping, it is vital that they can count on solid, trustworthy partners to authorise the use of works and collect digital royalties,” said Sacem CEO Jean-Noël Tronc. “We are proud that IMPEL and its independent publishers have chosen to renew this agreement with Sacem. Together, we will continue to do everything we can to bring greater transparency and value to all its members and to defend a dynamic and eclectic musical repertoire.”
Added IMPEL CEO Sarah Williams, “We have built an excellent relationship with Sacem and are very happy with what has been achieved so far. Both IMPEL and Sacem share an ethos of ‘how can we do this better?’ As a consequence, we are getting great results with our distributions, and are making continual improvements to the way we do business. We anticipate an extremely positive future.”
Rap-pop artist TheHxliday has signed to Motown Records, which re-released his EP Broken Halls last Friday (Sept. 25) with two new tracks. He will be releasing additional new music this month.
Best known for the track “Save Me,” the 18-year-old Baltimore native recently performed at Rolling Loud’s virtual festival and is featured on two tracks off Internet Money’s album B4 the Storm: “Familiar” and “Let You Down.”
Music solutions company ONErpm has signed indie rock band Smallpools. The first release under the deal is the band’s new single “cycle,” which dropped Sept. 18. Their forthcoming album is due out in the first quarter of next year.
In 2015, Smallpools released their debut album LOVETAP, which featured the popular single “Dreaming.” The band also co-wrote the Chainsmokers song “Break Up Every Night” from the album Memories…Do Not Open and performed the theme song for Netflix’s IIiza Shlesinger Sketch Show.
DJ and producer Damon Sharpe has signed to Armada Records. The label will release his single “Lost Years” feat. Josh Cumbee on Nov. 6.
Sharpe, who is best known for producing tracks by Jennifer Lopez, Ariana Grande, Pitbull and Alesso, has already had four of his songs put out by Armada: “Fire & Gold” with Morgan Page and VIVID, “When in Rome” with GATTÜSO, “Ghost Ship” feat. Orjan Nilsen and “Lifetime” with Zonderling and Josh Cumbee. He also hosts the monthly podcast Damon Sharpe Presents Brainjack on Insomniac Radio.
Emerging Canadian country artist Brett Kissel has signed with Verge Records, the label arm of ONErpm.
A native of northeastern Alberta, Canada, Kissel got his first break in 2012, when he signed a publishing and co-management deal with Nashville manager Bob Doyle of Major Bob Music and Canadian manager Louis O’Reilly. The following year he signed with Warner Music Canada, which released four albums by Kissel.
Kissel released his first U.S. country radio single, “Drink About Me” off the album Now or Never, last September. This summer he embarked on a drive-in concert tour across Canada, reaching 30,00 fans and raising over $250,000 for local charities and food banks.
Singer-songwriter Chase Martin has signed to RECORDS Nashville, the newly-launched Music City division of Barry Weiss’ Sony Music joint venture RECORDS. The first release under the deal will be Martin’s new single “Levi Denim,” which is slated to drop Oct. 9.
Hailing from Charleston, South Carolina, Martin has played with Kelsea Ballerini and Morgan Wallen and written with songwriters including Jimmy Robbins, Rebecca Lynn Howard and Rascal Flatts’ Joe Don Rooney.
Gospel and inspirational music label RCA Inspiration, in partnership with Jonathan McReynolds’ Life Room label, are releasing the debut single by DOE, who signed with Life Room early this year. Entitled “Brighter,” the song, which drops tomorrow, is DOE’s debut single as a solo artist and the first from her self-titled EP slated for release on Oct. 30.
DOE first gained recognition as the lead singer of group Forever Jones, which released three albums and garnered two Grammy nominations. She is a featured performer on McReynolds’ virtual Those People Tour, which kicks off today (Oct. 1).