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The Deals: MOD SUN Signs With Big Noise, ADA Pairs With Billy Mann

A roundup of notable music industry deals from the past two weeks, including MOD SUN's deal with Big Noise Music Group and Warner's partnership with Billy Mann and Benton James.

MOD SUN signed a long-term record and publishing deal with Big Noise Music Group. The label will partner with MOD on all of his publishing and recording endeavors, writing sessions and collaborations. He will also have access to Big Noise’s various verticals, including: gaming, animation and education awareness.

“The team at Big Noise believes in me and didn’t make me sacrifice one thing to get the record deal of my dreams,” said MOD SUN. “We see the world through the same lens. We can all feel the shift happening inside the industry right now and I can say with full confidence we will continue to evolve all while bringing back so many key ingredients that have been missing for over a decade.”

With a career spanning over a decade, the singer-songwriter and producer created his own lane in the alternative and punk rock music scenes. He has collaborated with and co-written songs for big names such as Travis Barker, Avril Lavigne and Machine Gun Kelly amongst many others. Back in February, MOD released his fourth studio album Internet Killed the Rockstar under Big Noise, which peaked at No. 21 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart.

Big Noise is a record label, publishing and media company offering artists the opportunity to develop and transform their artistry. The company manages artists across various genres like hip-hop, alternative and pop.

Warner Music Group’s ADA Worldwide announced a partnership with Billy Mann and Benton James for their new label icons+giants. Mann, who is a Grammy-nominated songwriter, producer, entrepreneur and artist manager and James, an A&R executive and artist manager, will combine their digital marketing and A&R track record with ADA’s global influence, resources and connected artist services.

“On behalf of everyone at ADA and Warner Music, we welcome Billy and Benton and the icons+giants team to the ADA family,” said Eliah Seton, president of independent music and creator services at Warner Music Group. “Billy and Benton are defining what comes next in music – they are on the cutting edge of this business, and we are so proud to be their partner and for ADA to be their home.”

Mann has sold over 110 million albums as a hit producer and songwriter. He has also served as president of International, CCO of EMI Music Global and president of creative at Bertelsmann Music Group North America. Mann is also a longtime collaborator of P!nk for nearly two decades.

James is an A&R force who is responsible for discovering and signing names like Drake, Lil Uzi Vert and DMV artist Ciscero. He is formerly the head of Urban A&R for Red Bull Songs and has delivered a slew of records with big names like Drake, Wiz Khalifa and Kelly Rowland.

“While everyone is crowding around creators in the digital space, we remain committed to also identifying the talent who are lifers in music, not just seekers of celebrity,” said James.

BET announced a deal with DJ Cassidy for his virtual series “DJ Cassidy’s Pass the Mic” to return for six new specials this year. The first installment titled “DJ Cassidy’s Pass the Mic: The BET After Party” premiered following the 52nd NAACP Image Awards which were held on Saturday (March 27).

“BET is excited to expand our relationship with DJ Cassidy and continue to unite people through music across our platforms,” said evp of specials, music programming and music strategy at BET, Connie Orlando. “We look forward to creating a one-of-a-kind experience with ‘Pass The Mic’ that connects generations and combines musical genres. We hope that these specials continue to uplift and entertain viewers, bringing together our favorite musical heroes in a unique way.”

The special gained notoriety last year with the “Soul Train Edition” of the show. During the show, DJ Cassidy passed the mic to music legends like Chaka Khan, George Clinton and El Debarge amongst many others. To date, his specials have featured more than a hundred of music’s biggest stars.

“DJ Cassidy’s Pass the Mic” will be executive produced by Orlando along with Jesse Collins, CEO of Jesse Collins Entertainment (JCE), JCE’S Dionne Harmon, music industry mogul Steve Rifkind and DJ Cassidy himself.

“When I created ‘Pass The Mic’ last spring in my living room, I simply wanted to connect people through music and never imagined I would soon be producing it for television on BET,” said DJ Cassidy. “I grew up watching my musical heroes on ‘Video Soul’ and ‘Rap City,’ shows that defined the deejay I became. I am truly honored to collaborate with visionaries like Connie Orlando, Jesse Collins, and Steve Rifkind and partner with BET to elevate ‘Pass The Mic’ to an even higher plane of inspiration and celebration.”

Knitting Factory Management signed renowned musician, producer and bandleader Seun Kuti.

“The Kuti family are part of Knitting Factory’s DNA; they are synonymous with our brand,” said Knitting Factory Entertainment CEO Morgan Margolis. “We’re looking forward to expanding opportunities for Seun Kuti wherever we can find them, which we expect, will be everywhere.”

Seun is the youngest son of Afrobeats pioneer Fela Kuti. He started opening for his father at the age of nine and assumed leadership of the band Egypt 80 following his father’s passing in 1997. Since then, Seun has performed his father’s original compositions and added his own twists to the music to reflect Africa’s struggles and culture.

In 2011, he recorded his first album for Knitting Factory Records called From Africa with Fury: Rise. It peaked at No. 8 on Billboard’s World Albums chart. Seun and Egypt 80 hope to get back to touring the globe and maintaining their reputation of playing multi-hour shows.

Hi-res music streaming and download service Qobuz has partnered with UMe and Zappa Records to exclusively provide 29 Frank Zappa albums for the first time in high-resolution audio.

The five-week reissue campaign will include a series of drops between Friday (April 2) and May 7, with the albums available for both streaming and download.

“Qobuz’s awesome combo platter of Hi-Res Audio and the ability for fans to immerse themselves into the album art of their favorite musicians is an incredible listening experience and a perfect fit for Zappa Records,” said Ahmet Zappa, representing Zappa Records. “As far as I’m concerned, the ‘z’ in Qobuz stands for Zappa and we know fans of the ‘World’s Finest Optional Entertainment’ are going to love the Zappa Qobuz experience. As FZ said: ‘Music is the Best!’”

On April 2, nine Frank Zappa albums will be available to stream and download on Qobuz in native 24-bit Hi-Res FLAC format. Each will include a PDF digital booklet exclusive to Qobuz, while two of the albums, Absolutely Free and Halloween 81, will be available in both full box set and edited “highlights” versions.

Zappa “Vaultmeister” Joe Travers will also curate an exclusive annotated Zappa playlist for Qobuz later in April.

Motown Records signed multi-talented artist Cam Wallace. The Houston native is best known for his production and songwriting credits for Beyoncé, Chris Brown, Slim Thug and Lecrae amongst many others.

“Cam is a once in a lifetime talent that raps, sings, produces, engineers, mixes at a high quality,” said Shawn Barron, vp of A&R at Motown Records.

Universal Music Africa (UMA) and Motown Gospel signed South African choir MTN Joyous Celebration. Their music will be released in the U.S. and Canada as they prepare for the release of their 25th album this Easter.

“MTN Joyous Celebration has enjoyed unparalleled success over the last 25 years, in which they have entertained and inspired South Africans, Africans and the world with their take of gospel and inspirational music,” said Sipho Dlamini, CEO of Universal Music Group’s South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa divisions.

“This was an exciting opportunity to be involved in the next phase of their incredible journey, as they continue to grow, inspire, spread culture and positivity and reach new audiences around the world,” he added. “We welcome Joyous to UMG and are looking forward to working together across a variety of platforms to help open up exciting new opportunities. At UMG, we are also involved in live event production, booking and touring of artists, brand development and creating content across a variety of different forms including film, TV and online, so being able to combine what we do, with what Joyous has do so amazingly well, is truly a dream collaboration.”

MTN Joyous Celebration has been performing for the past 25 years. They are known throughout the continent of Africa for their lively concerts. The gospel group also provides a space for aspiring young gospel singers to showcase their talents on stage.

UK electronic producer duo Jungle signed a worldwide deal with AWAL. The deal offers the artists services including: global marketing, campaign coordination, synch listening and global distribution.

“The whole AWAL team globally is raring to go on the incredible new Jungle record, which is set to become the soundtrack for this summer,” said AWAL president Paul Hitchman. “It has everything you could hope for and will be a dream campaign for us. AWAL is designed to empower the most creative of artists and management teams, and working in partnership with Josh, Tom and the Verdigris team is a great fit – there is no limit to what we can achieve together.”

Jungle was formed by friends and producers Josh Lloyd and Tom McFarland. Since releasing their first, self-titled album in 2014, they’ve sold out arenas and performed at top music festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. The duo is slated to drop their third album Loving In Stereo this summer.

Warner Chappell Music Brazil signed a global admin deal with Carlinhos Brown. The deal will include some of his hits like: “Maria Caipririnha,” “Velha Infância” and “Maimbê Dandá.”

“Carlinhos is one of the most influential and iconic music figures in Brazil – his sound and style are unmistakable and he’s accomplished more than some artists dream of,” said Marcel Klemm, managing director of Warner Chappell Music Brazil. “His music and art have made a massive impact on Brazilian culture and we’re so happy to welcome him to the Warner Chappell family.”

Brown is credited as a leader of Bahian sound, a mix of Afro-Brazilian percussion with a hint of reggae. He has earned multiple Latin Grammy nods, worked with Shakira and in 2012, he earned an Oscar nomination for his work on “Real in Rio” from the children’s animated film Rio. Brown also serves as a coach on The Voice Brazil and The Voice Kids.

mySongbird announced a licensing partnership with Universal Music Group’s Mercury Studios. Under the deal, the streaming platform acquired the rights to thousands of live concert footage and music documentaries about iconic bands such as Fleetwood Mac and The Rolling Stones amongst many others.

Founded in 2020, the subscription-based media platform currently offers around 500 live concerts across numerous music genres. This new partnership marks the beginning of their strategic efforts to expand its platform through licensing partnerships and collaborations.

“Concert videos from Mercury Studios dating back to the 1960s are an invaluable source of entertainment and we’re delighted to add these to our platform,” said Mike Mountford, founder and CEO of mySongbird. “On mySongbird, fans will virtually transport to concerts of their favorite artists, both classic and modern.”

Warner Music Group announced the acquisition of indie label Zhara Music and the launch of Atlantic Records Russia.

Zhara was co-founded by artists and businessmen EMIN and Bahh Tee and has become a key player in Russia’s music industry in less than three years. Atlantic Records Russia will be led by Tee as general producer, as he will maintain a team of A&R and marketing specialists separate to Warner Music Russia.

However, the parent company will provide strategic leadership via Alexander Blinov, general director of Warner Music Russia, as well as legal and financial support, catalog registration and content distribution.

“EMIN and Bahh Tee have poured their hearts and souls into building a label,” said Blinov. “They’re talented artists, sincere fans and successful business people, and that’s shone through in the incredible roster they’ve built.  I’m delighted that Bahh Tee has agreed to launch Atlantic Records in Russia – connecting the world-renowned brand to a whole new generation of artists from across Russia and beyond.  It’s going to be a wild ride!”

Sony Music Entertainment launched a new Southeast Asian record label called OFFMUTE. The new effort is focused on championing new and emerging Southeast Asian talent.

OFFMUTE also announced three new signees: Philippine singer-songwriter Clara Benin, Indonesian alt-pop sensation Mezzaluna and Malaysian recording star liesl-mae. Each artist will release new music under the new label.

“OFFMUTE is a first-of-its-kind label in this part of the world, embracing the eclectic appeal and rich diversity that Southeast Asia has to offer, empowering artists with the resources and expertise to find success in a diverse region,” said Shridhar Subramaniam, Sony’s president of strategy and market development for Asia and the Middle East. “That offering is compelling for a new generation of artists in the region and we’re excited to help these artists fulfill their potential in the years to come.”

Vitalic Noise announced the launch of their new full-service music promotion company Movida Música. The new effort is primarily geared towards the Latin American music market, handling the servicing of released to all radio, media and direct-to-DSPs. They also offer talent buying, touring or TV/film servicing opportunities.

“Each release is distinct, and as we ultimately want to help build a stronger business for our partners, we can also offer creative assistance on each release when given the opportunity,” said MOVIDA co-founder Justin Katerberg. “We will help to curate localized assets via remixes, features, localized marketing strategy, etc.”

Vitalic Noise also recently launched music publishing arm Loose Change Publishing which is focused on developing rising songwriters and producers by way of song-based publishing deals.

Hi-Res music streaming service Qobuz paired with Sonos to provide a higher quality listening experience. Available through the Sonos S2 app, Qobuz is the first music service to deliver 24-bit Hi-Res audio streaming on the audio manufacturers’ products.

“Qobuz has always strived to make the highest quality audio accessible, as people become more interested in better sound,” said Qobuz USA Managing Director Dan Mackta. “Now, on Sonos devices, we’re making it easy for millions more people to experience the improvement Hi-Res audio can make.”

This new integration marks one of Qobuz’s broadest expansions of Hi-Res streaming support. In 2013, the music service was the first to offer 16-bit FLAC streaming on Sonos. By introducing 24-bit streaming, which is compatible with most Sonos devices, they are continuing to expand their hardware partnerships and access to higher-resolution, studio-quality streaming.

Interactive music streaming service provider NetEase Cloud Music and digital music licensing organization Merlin extended their strategic partnership in China. The multi-year licensing deal includes access to marketing and promotional opportunities for Merlin members.

As one of the most “social” music-streaming services, NetEase has become a go-to platform for both international and music lovers and artists in China. Merlin provides the ability to license independent music and accounts for more than 15% of the global digital music market.

NetEase and Merlin first paired in 2018. Their extended partnership grants NetEase’s users access to a vast array of music from Merlin’s members as well as the ability for members to increase their fanbase through their exposure to NetEase’s growing audience in China.

“NetEase Cloud Music users are one of the largest consumers of international music in China. Merlin’s efforts to make a variety of independent music easily accessible has increased independent artists’ exposure to create a more vibrant market. It has been a mutually beneficial partnership and we look forward to providing Merlin’s member artists further opportunities to reach even more fans,” said Mathew Daniel, vp of international at NetEase Cloud Music.

7digital signed a long-term contract with Kuaishou Technology to provide the latter’s mobile apps with licensed music globally.

“We are pleased to sign with Kuaishou, one of the world’s fastest growing social media apps with hundreds of millions of users,” said Paul Langworthy, CEO of 7digital. “This long-term contract expands 7digital’s footprint in this high-growth sector, making us one of the largest providers of licensed music to global social media giants and tech-driven consumer brands. Collectively, across all of 7digital’s contracts in this space, we enable 1 billion average monthly active users to access one of the largest music catalogues of the world powered by us. This latest partnership exemplifies the breadth and depth of our capabilities and is expected to be a significant contributor to our revenue growth in this market segment.”

With the new partnership, Kuaishou will benefit from 7digital’s market-leading technology and will be able to give users access to rights-cleared music to be used across any platform. 7digital will also assist in reporting on music consumption on the platform to Kuaishou’s licensed labels.

iZotope and Native Instruments joined forces to form a new technology group backed by Francisco Partners and EMH Partners. The two companies will continue to operate independently and under the leadership of Mark Ethier, co-founder and CEO of iZotope, and Constantin Koehncke, CEO of Native, as they work alongside each other as co-presidents of the new group.

The goal of the alliance is to better the support the creative community through close collaboration, the sharing of knowledge and technology and the enhancement of product offerings. The duo hopes to generate a more cohesive audio ecosystem.

“iZotope and Native Instruments share the same mission to inspire and enable creativity,” said Ethier. “We both look to make it easier for engineers, producers and musicians to realize their creative vision, and together, we will be able to break down barriers that have stood in the way of that goal for decades. With iZotope’s intelligent processing, and Native Instrument’s innovative offerings, I can’t wait to see what artists will create.”

“As more and more people are getting into music making they are looking for easy access to the building blocks for their journey,” added Koehncke. “Joining forces with iZotope brings us yet another step closer to fulfilling our shared mission to empower producers of all levels with everything they need, from instruments and effects to a supportive and thriving community. I cannot begin to imagine what our combined talent and technology can come up with to inspire artists and music creators worldwide.”