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The Deals: Ella Fitzgerald Estate Goes Cheek to Cheek With Downtown, Neil Jacobson Forms Music SPAC

A roundup of notable music industry deals from the past two weeks, including Downtown's neighboring rights agreement with the Ella Fitzgerald estate and the formation of a new special purpose…

Downtown Neighbouring Rights, which was established last June, has struck a deal to represent the estate of Ella Fitzgerald for performance royalty collections outside the U.S. The deal covers Fitzgerald’s entire repertoire, including classics such as “Dream a Little Dream of Me”, “Cheek to Cheek“, “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).”

One of the most legendary female jazz singers in history, Fitzgerald recorded songs written by composers and lyricists such as Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, George & Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, Irving Berlin and Rodgers & Hart. She is additionally known for her many duets with Louis Armstrong. Over the course of her career, she won 13 Grammys, the National Medal of Arts, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and France’s Order of Arts and Letters.


Former Geffen Records president Neil Jacobson, who founded songwriter/producer management firm Hallwood Media in 2019, has formed a new special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called The Music Acquisition Corporation. SPACs are shell companies that raise money in an initial public offering (IPO), then merge with a privately-held target company, making that target publicly-traded as a result.

According to an SPAC S-1 prospectus, Jacobson’s new company plans to raise $200 million through an imminent IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, and will use the funds to invest in companies at the crossroads of music and technology.

Hipgnosis has acquired 100% of Bob Rock’s producer rights for Metallica’s Metallica and Michael Bublé’s Call Me Irresponsible, Crazy Love, Christmas and To Be Loved, comprising 43 songs in total.

Rock is best known for producing the Metallica album (also known as The Black Album), which has been certified 16-times multi-platinum by the RIAA. During his long collaboration with Bublé, he has produced the entirety of To Be Loved as well as producing several tracks on Call Me Irresponsible, Crazy Love and Christmas. In 2013, he won the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for To Be Loved.

Rock was represented in the deal by his longtime manager Bruce Allen and attorney Mark L. Kovinsky.

Ingrooves Music Group has acquired leading South African independent music distributor Electromode, marking its entry into the growing African music market. The move follows Ingrooves’ recent expansions into South America, Asia, Europe and Australia.

Under the agreement, Electromode managing director Chris Ghelakis will continue leading the company’s Johannesburg-based team while working with the Ingrooves global music network to identify new audiences and develop African artists and label brands across the globe.

Electromode is home to labels including DJ Maphorisa’s New Money Gang, Piano Hub, Ambitouz Entertainment and Spirit Music. The Electromode catalog represents over 30,000 songs by artists including The Scorpion Kings, Kabza De Small and Jub Jub.

“Ingrooves will help us open the door for many South African and African artists to be introduced to new global audiences, while growing and developing some of the great new and established independent artists creating music in Africa,” said Ghelakis in a statement.

Experimental R&B artist Dawn Richard (performing as Dawn) — formerly of the groups Danity Kane and Dirty Money — has signed with Merge Records.

Richard has released a total of five albums: 2005’s Been a While, 2013’s Goldenheart, 2015’s Blackheart, 2016’s Redemption and 2019’s New Breed. Her next album, to be released Apr. 30 by Merge, is described as “a love letter to her New Orleans culture and her mother’s cultural influence [that] celebrates the history, identity and musical soul of her city.”

Also working as an animator, Richard recently signed a partnership with Adult Swim to create opportunities for other Black visual artists on Adult Swim’s online and linear platforms.

Kobalt has signed U.K. producer Fred to a neighboring rights deal.

Fred has produced music for Burna Boy, FKA Twigs and Khalid. Recent hits include songs by Headie One (“Aint It Different” feat. Stormzy & AJ Tracey), AJ Tracey’s “West Ten,” Romy’s “Lifetime” and Jayda G’s “Both of Us,” the latter of which was nominated for Best Dance Recording at the 2021 Grammys.

Fred has also released music under his own name, including the joint mixtape Gang alongside Headie One.

Christian music label Red Street Records has announced two new signings: Dallas-based bilingual vocalist Iveth Luna and vocal trio Jawbone Honey, the latter of which is comprised of Jordan Guyton, Jake Hess, and Gregory Brunot.

Luna is “known for combining pop melodies with soulful cues with lyrics of faith,” while Jawbone Honey incorporates worship, pop, R&B and jazz into their music. The artists join existing Red Street signees Cade Thompson, Jason Crabb, Lauren Camey and Avalon.

Jackson, Tennessee rapper Lathan Warlick has signed to RECORDS Nashville — the Music City arm of Barry Weiss‘ RECORDS — in partnership with Columbia Records.

Lathan came to attention via TikTok and Instagram for his videos adding rap verses to hit songs by Justin Bieber (“Holy” feat. Chance the Rapper), Roddy Ricch (“The Box”), Adele (“Hello”) and Granger Smith, who asked him to add a verse to his song “That’s What I Love About Dirt Roads” after coming across his videos.

Represented by manager Ash Bowers at Wide Open Music, Lathan recently released the song “Over Yonder” feat. Matt Stell and has additionally collaborated with artists including Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line, Dustin Lynch and RaeLynn. He previously self-released three EPs: Tellem That Im Comin, 2nd Time Around and A Church in the Trap.

Management firm 3V Method has signed Australian alt-pop group 19&YOU to its label division, 3V Method Records, in partnership with Virgin Music Label & Artist Services.

“3V’s label was built on finding artists with visions and values that help drive their goals. We actively seek out artists whose vision is driven by their values because we believe that values transcend trends,” said 3V CEO Alex Valenti in a statement.

3V has already released the 19&YOU singles “Runnin’” and “Bored!” The label gives artists the chance to develop “in a supportive, close knit system” before choosing whether to move to a major or receive more personalized services at 3V. The company was founded by Valenti (previously of Direct Management), Matt Steger (previously of Spotify) and Justin Garza (founder of The Dream Adopters). Other 3V clients include Peach Tree Rascals, CLAY, Sean Leon and Melanie Fontana.

Management firm The Blueprint Group has announced a partnership with Tsū, an emerging social media platform for musicians and other creators.

Under the partnership, the companies have launched an advisory/ambassador program that will give away $5 million in equity to creators who work to build buzz, increase downloads and generate content on the Tsū platform. They have additionally produced a Tsū-exclusive comedy series entitled Trippin On Sundays, designed to support comedians affected by the shutdown of venues during the pandemic.

Led by partners Gee Roberson, Shawn Gee, Jean Nelson, Cortez Bryant and Al Branch, The Blueprint Group was named to Billboard’s Power 100 list in 2019.