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The Deals: Peermusic Forms Neighboring Rights Venture, Warner Music Middle East Inks First Signing

A roundup of notable music industry deals from the past two weeks, including peermusic's new neighboring rights venture and Warner Music Middle East's first artist signing.

Peermusic has acquired Premier Muzik, All Right Music and Global Master Rights and will embark on a new neighboring rights venture with the three companies.

The deal, which was led by peermusic Deputy CEO Mary Megan Peer and originated with discussions between peermusic chair and CEO Ralph Peer II and All Right Music founder Christophe Piot, will combine the staff and services of all four companies, instantly making peermusic one of the leading independent neighboring rights companies in the world.

Peermusic’s neighboring rights roster will include clients of the combined companies, which collectively encompass more than 300 record labels and over 2,500 performers, including such top names as Rihanna, Billie Eilish, Imagine Dragons, DJ Snake, Metallica, Leonard Bernstein, Megan Thee Stallion, Lizzo, Migos and David Guetta.

Peermusic did not have neighboring rights staff prior to the deal and will therefore retain the staff from its three partner companies, which will be supported by peermusic staff in technology, finance and legal. The five principals of Premier Muzik, All Right Music and Global Master Rights will also remain with peermusic following their acquisition, including Pinot, Premier Muzik founding partners Gino Olivieri and Gino Crescenza and Global Master Rights co-founders Erik Veerman and Paul Smelt.

All three acquired companies will continue operating under their current names and out of their existing offices while identifying as peermusic subsidiaries.

“Given the challenging market artists and songwriters currently face, I’m happy to be able to offer our clients new revenue opportunities through neighbouring rights services,” said Mary Megan Peer in a statement announcing the deal. “Premier Muzik, All Right Music and Global Master Rights are first-class organizations and we’re very fortunate that peermusic can draw on the knowledge, experience, and leadership of Christophe, Gino, Gino, Erik and Paul.”

Added Piot, “I have known peermusic for quite a long time and have been able to connect with their colleagues around the world. They all share the same model of transparency and integrity we offer to our clients, so we are thrilled to make use of their global platform to offer more extensive services to our worldwide clients.”

Neighboring rights, which are tied to master recordings, are owned by the performer, label, back up musicians, and, in some territories, non-audible contributors including engineers and producers. Given the steep drop in revenues for artists and other music creators during the pandemic, neighboring rights collections have become a growing concern over the past several months and represent an increasingly-important income stream.

Warner Music Middle East has signed rapper and producer Chyno with a Why?, kicking off its new venture to build a roster of artists in the region.

Chyno with a Why?, who is of mixed Syrian and Filipino heritage, is a hip-hop pioneer in the Middle East and part of the Beirut-based hip-hop crew Fareeq El Atrash. He released his first solo album, Making Music to Feel at Home, in 2015. That was followed by the 2017 collaborative album El Dahleen (The Misled), which features some of Lebanon’s most well-known hip-hop artists, and later the 2018 joint EP TERMINAL with The Synaptik. His forthcoming album, Mamluk, is slated for release this autumn.

As described in a press release, Chyno with a Why? deals with themes of marginalization, disenfranchisement and the identity crises suffered by Middle Eastern young people who were raised with Western influences in his music.

Launched in 2018, Warner Music Middle East was originally tasked with handling the promotion and distribution of WMG’s international repertoire in the region but is now expanding into local A&R. It is based in Beirut.

TikTok has signed a multi-year deal with Dutch collecting society Buma/Stemra, effectively securing royalty payments from the short-form video platform for its songwriters, composers and publishers.

Under the new agreement, TikTok will work with Buma/Stemra’s members to enhance understanding of the platform and the opportunities it presents for music creators. The society’s current membership includes Martin Garrix, whose songs “Ocean” feat. Khalid and “Summer Days” have been used in over 1.4 million and 1.2 million TikTok videos, respectively. Other Buma/Stemra members who use the platform include Fedde Le Grand, Tiësto and Kris Kross Amsterdam.

“We are very happy that the intense but constructive negotiations with TikTok have brought us this agreement,” said Buma/Stemra CEO Bernard Kobes in a statement announcing the deal. “This is good news for our authors and publishers, especially in these days where our members income has diminished in other markets. We look forward developing this partnership deal further with TikTok and our members”.

Singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad, currently one of the most popular artists in India, has signed with Elektra Records.

Kuhad, who was raised in Jaipur, India, is the first Indian artist ever signed to Elektra, which boasts acts including Tones and I, Brandi Carlile, Kaleo and Young the Giant on its roster. The news is concurrent with the re-release of Kuhad’s breakthrough EP cold/mess, which is now available on all streaming platforms.

DJ-producer MK has signed with Three Six Zero management for global representation. He will be managed by Three Six Zero partner Milo Mitchum and CEO Mark Gillespie.

Based in Los Angeles, MK is known for such house music tracks as “Burning,” his remix of Nightcrawlers’ “Push the Feeling On” and “17.” His latest single, “2am,” was released by Columbia Records and peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Dance/Mix Show Airplay Chart (it currently sits at No. 4). He has additionally produced remixes for artists including Lana Del Rey, Armand Van Helden, Travis Scott and Ed Sheeran.

WME has signed emerging singer-songwriter Robyn Ottolini.

Ottolini, who is signed to Warner Music Nashville, recently enjoyed a streaming hit with “F-150,” which peaked at No. 4 on Spotify’s all-genre US Viral 50 chart and has racked up over 6 million streams across platforms. The Uxbrige, Ontario native has released two independent EPs and also hosts a weekly IG Live series entitled The Good Sh*t News Network. She is managed by Mark Schroor and Erik Fintelman at Workshop Music Group and attorney Kurt Dahl of Murphy & Company LLP.

Warner Music Asia has partnered with the venture capital and investment management firm SOSV to jointly invest in several start-ups that came out of SOSV’s two accelerators for enterprise and consumer internet – Chinaccelerator and MOX (Mobile-Only Accelerator). Since its founding, SOSV has invested in and helped grow over 200 early-stage start-ups, including 15 in the music industry: Guitar Hero, GarageBand, Harmonix and more.

“SOSV has an impressive track record in the Asia market with Chinaccelerator and MOX,” said Warner Music Asia president Simon Robson in a statement. “We’re excited to be partnering with SOSV to discover the next generation of start-up talent, which can help us transform the experiences of music fans.”

“Deep technology is revolutionizing how we experience music and engage with artists, while opening up new ways to support the arts,” added SOSV general partner and Chinaccelerator and MOX managing director William Bao Bean. “Bringing Warner Music’s expertise in music and media together with SOSV’s capital and ecosystem of founders, 300+ mentors and global community will prove a powerful force for disruption.”

Established over a decade ago, Chinaccelerator has helped a number of online consumer companies access the Chinese market while assisting Asia-based B2B companies in building global businesses. It was the first-ever accelerator in Asia and is the only active one to have a unicorn, BitMEX from Batch 8, pass through its program.

MOX has backed start-ups including the English pronunciation coach ELSA (the first investment in Asia by Google’s AI venture arm Gradient Ventures), fintech company Achiko and “Internet of Places” micro-location platform UNL.

North Carolina singer Nick Bonin, the artist behind streaming hit “Fell Too Far,” has signed to Roger Gengo’s Masked Records in partnership with Warner Records. In conjunction with the announcement, the label released the official “Fell Too Far” music video.

“Fell Too Far” surged after esports company FaZe Clan used the song in one its YouTube montages, grabbing the attention of the online Fortnite community. In the aftermath, thousands of fans featured the song in their own YouTube and TikTok videos, leading to the track’s success on music streaming platforms.

Space Colonel Management, the firm launched last year by Adam Barnes and J.R. Denson, has added several new clients to its growing roster, including country band Mike and the Moonpies and singer-songwriter Zac Wilkerson via a new partnership with manager and producer Adam Odor of Prairie Rose Music. It has also added producers Beau Bedford (Paul Cauthen, Orville Peck) and McKenzie Smith (St. Vincent, First Aid Kit).

The roster for Space Colonel, which has offices in Dallas and Nashville, also includes Shooter Jennings and his label Black Country Rock, Jason Boland & The Stragglers, Lillie Mae, Quaker City Night Hawks and Deep Blue Something.