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The Deals: Little Simz Renews AWAL Recordings Contract, Licensing Service Lickd Strikes UMG Partnership

A roundup of notable music industry deals from the past two weeks, including Lickd's new agreement with Universal Music Group and rapper Little Simz's contract renewal with AWAL Recordings.

Mercury Prize-nominated rapper and songwriter Little Simz (a.k.a. Simbi Ajikawo) has renewed her partnership with AWAL Recordings, which provides a full range of services including global marketing and promotion, digital and physical distribution, campaign coordination, A&R support, synch licensing and brand partnerships.

Little Simz garnered acclaim with her most recent album, GREY Area, which was released on her own label, Age 101, via AWAL. In addition to the Mercury Prize, she has been nominated for AIM and BET Awards; additionally, she won the Q Award for best vocal performance and the NME Award for best British album. She has toured with Gorillaz, Lauryn Hill and Anderson .Paak and also starred in the Channel 4 crime drama Top Boy, which currently airs on Netflix.

Little Simz’s most recent release is the EP Drop 6. She is slated to put out a new album next year.



Lickd, a service that provides video creators with access to label-owned music, has announced global partnerships with Universal Music Group and Universal Music Publishing Group. The deal will offer YouTube creators access to a selection of new releases from the companies’ music catalogs across multiple territories.

In a release, Lickd claims 100% month on month growth in creator sign-ups, as well as 89% growth in licenses over the last quarter. It currently hosts over 25,000 songs on the platform.

Said Lickd CEO Paul Sampson of the deal, “This is one of many positive moves helping to craft a more artist, songwriter and creator-friendly world comprising of fair compensation and affordable licensing.”



Sub Pop has signed Flock of Dimes, the solo project of Jenn Wasner, one half of indie rock duo Wye Oak. The first release under the deal is Flock of Dimes’ new EP, Like So Much Desire, which is her first solo release since the 2016 album If You See Me, Say Yes.

According to a release, the majority of songs on Like So Much Desire were recorded by Wasner in her home while in isolation, with remote contributions from other musicians. Wasner wrote and produced the album, which was mixed by Ari Picker and mastered by Ryan Pickett.



Zoe Wees, an 18-year-old Hamburg, Germany-based artist, has signed to Caroline via home label Valeria Music, which released her debut hit single “Control” this past March. The track currently boasts 17 million streams on Spotify alone.

“Control” deals with Wees’ struggle with Rolandic childhood epilepsy, which caused her to have several seizures a day while in school.

“Losing control during my seizures made me feel claustrophobic, and that affected everything I did,” said Wees in a statement. “The song served as the most direct way to process and tell my own story. It was painful to write but also very healing.”



London-based B2B digital services company 7digital has signed a 12-month contract renewal with Universal Music France to provide curated music solutions to the La Poste Mobile streaming service, which utilizes 7digital’s technology to access UMF’s catalog. 7digital also provides back-end user reporting for the service.

Under the renewal, 7digital will continue to support UMF subsidiary Digster, which offers curated playlist services that come bundled with telco services in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In addition to catalog and back-end support, 7digital will also enable Digster to service a “niche” catalog of music that can be catered to different markets.

“This contract renewal demonstrates 7digital’s utility in supporting the expansion of the global audio streaming market,” said 7digital CEO Paul Langworthy in a statement. “With the growth of streaming services clustered around the $9.99 price point reaching a saturation point, there is a growing opportunity in the market for niche offerings that differentiate themselves by characteristics such as access, format, curation, geography, or genre.”



Nashville-based singer-songwriter Hailey Whitters has signed with Big Loud Records’ female-driven imprint Songs and Daughters. Songs and Daughters was formed in July 2019 by Big Loud and songwriter Nicolle Galyon.

Under the deal, Big Loud/Songs & Daughters will continue the marketing and promotion of Whitters’ new album, The Dream, which she originally self-released via her label Pigasus Records.

Whitters was recently named to CMT’s Next Women of Country Class of 2020, among other accolades. The Dream is her second studio album after 2015’s Black Sheep.



Sampling service Tracklib has raised $4.5 million from a number of investors, include Spinnin’ Records founder Eelko van Kooten and the Sony Innovation Fund, which previously invested in the startup in May 2019.

Boasting a catalog of over 100,000 songs, Tracklib — which allows users to search for and legally clear original music for sampling — will utilize the funds to increase its music catalog and user base following a major update last month, which included a revamped user interface and upgrade to a subscription model. Artists who have utilized Tracklib samples include Lil Wayne, DJ Khaled, Phantogram, Mary J. Blige and J. Cole.



Nickelodeon has signed an overall talent deal with 13-year-old social media star and hip-hop artist Lay Lay, also known as Alaya “That Girl Lay Lay” High. Under the agreement, Nickelodeon will work with her to develop original multi-platform programming, music initiatives and “a cross-category consumer products business.”

At the age of 11, Lay Lay signed a recording deal via her Fresh Rebel Muzik/EMPIRE imprint. In September 2018, she released her debut EP Tha Cheat Code, which was followed by Tha Cheat Code Reloaded and All Tha Way Lit Up.



Deezer has partnered with music marketing platform and smartlink management company Linkfire, which will allow artists and their teams to view data from the streaming service directly in their Linkfire Insights.

Linkfire offers what are known as smart links — single ISRC/UPC codes that can be populated with links to a number of streaming and download services, artist websites and more without requiring each link to be entered manually. These smart links offer artists and their teams insights into engagement, streams, downloads and fan preferences across all sources of traffic.

Linkfire has deals in place with a number of other streaming services, including, most recently, Apple Music.



The sync search and discovery site SyncFloor has partnered with indie distributor TuneCore to build on SyncFloor’s SyncSite platform. The partnership will allow TuneCore music to be discovered by SyncFloor users for licensing purposes.

“SyncFloor has created a turn-key, branded portal to some of the most amazing, unique music we have, music that could be the right fit for a lot of productions and projects,” said TuneCore vp of publishing and sync Chris Dampier in a statement. “We’re excited to bring our artists to more production professionals and serve both sides by making great music easy to discover.”