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The Deals: Sam Cooke Estate Enters Branding Partnership with ALG, UMG Africa Signs Afro-Pop Act Sauti Sol & More

A list of notable music industry deals over the past week including ALG Brands' new branding partnership with the estate of Sam Cooke, Universal Music Africa's recording deal with Kenyan collective…

Intellectual property rights manager ALG Brands has become the exclusive branding agent for the estate of singer-songwriter Sam Cooke, ALG CEO Ashley Austin announced Tuesday (Feb. 4). ALG will provide comprehensive representation services for the estate, including overseeing licensing of Cooke’s personality rights and the administration of his official digital and social media assets.

As part of the deal, ALG will work alongside Cooke’s granddaughter Nicole Cooke-Johnson, who serves as estate CEO. They will work in tandem to expand Cooke’s legacy via branding and content initiatives with multi-generational appeal, including establishing an official website and social media profiles and launching branded media projects in the lead-up to the singer’s 90th birthday in 2021.  

“My grandfather was an influencer who intentionally used his form of branded entertainment to affect changes in his community, for our nation and around the world,” said Cooke-Johnson in a statement. “I am very proud to be continuing his legacy by working with ALG to explore new co-branding opportunities that will inspire people today and for many more years to come as my grandfather’s leadership, creativity and music have inspired so many people around the world for generations.”   

In addition to becoming a chart success with singles such as “You Send Me,” “(What A) Wonderful World,” “Twistin’ The Night Away,” “Bring It On Home To Me,” “Having A Party,” and “Cupid,” Cooke became an active participant in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, refusing to perform for segregated audiences. His 1964 song “A Change Is Gonna Come” is widely regarded as one of the premier anthems for equality.   



Universal Music Africa has signed an exclusive recording deal with the Kenyan Afro-pop collective Sauti Sol, it was announced Jan. 30, offering them a leg up in reaching new audiences on a global scale. The group is comprised of vocalists Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano, Savara Mudigi and guitarist Polycarp Otieno.

Sauti Sol has released a total of three studio albums and a collaborative EP with South African rapper and producer Spoek Mathombo. They have also won multiple awards, including Best Fusion Artist/Group of the Year and Best Music Video at East Africa’s Kisima Music Awards, Best African Act at the the MTV EMAs and Best African Group at the MTV AFRICA Awards. Their third album, Live and Die in Afrika, was released in 2015 as a free download for 48 hours, garnering 400,000 downloads over that two-day period alone.

Last year, the group additionally launched their own record label, Sol Generation Records, with the mission to develop and introduce new live African artists.



iHeartMedia and OZY Media have struck a multi-year deal to co-produce and promote a slate of iHeartRadio Original Podcasts, the companies announced Jan. 30. Three shows under the deal are slated for release in 2020 via the iHeartPodcast Network.

The first of the shows, Around the World, is a travel and culture podcast that will feature stories of “changemakers and renegades” from around the world, with content culled from OZY’s year-long editorial project that reported three stories from every country on earth. The other two podcasts are a spin-off of OZY’s historical show The Thread and a scripted series. The original podcasts will be co-produced by iHeartMedia and OZY Media and distributed and promoted across multiple iHeartMedia platforms including broadcast radio stations, the company’s digital streaming platform iHeartRadio and social media channels.

In addition to the new slate, two of OZY’s existing podcasts — The Thread and OZY Confidential — will be added to the iHeartPodcast Networks catalog. 



British rock band Placebo has signed with the independent label So Recordings for the release of their next studio album, it was announced Jan. 29. The album will be the band’s first since 2013’s Loud Like Love and their seventh overall.



Sony Music Nashville and Villa 40 have signed singer-songwriter Tyler Booth, it was announced Jan. 29. Booth is the first artist to launch via a new exclusive, long-term joint venture agreement between the two companies.

“Villa 40 was founded with the goal of developing artists across all aspects of their careers, and we know that working with the SMN team will allow us to help artists like Tyler define the next decade of country music,” said Villa 40’s Brad Margolis, who co-founded the company with Trace Ayala and Joe Fisher.

21-year-old Booth, who hails from the Southeastern region of Kentucky, was discovered by producer and songwriter Phil O’Donnell (Blake SheltonBilly Ray Cyrus). Two new tracks from the singer, “Long Comes A Girl” and “Where The Livin’ Is,” are now available on all digital platforms.



Country duo Pryor & Lee have signed with Black River Entertainment, label president and CEO Gordon Kerr announced Jan. 29. Comprised of Pryor Baird and Kaleb Lee, the group’s Country’s Back tour is slated to kick off March 1 in Fontana, CA, with music described as “a fresh sound with a throwback vibe highlighting their modern take on country music’s iconic guitar twang and relatable lyrics.”

Baird and Lee met while they were both competing on NBC’s The Voice, where each finished in the Top 6 while serving as both roommates and, eventually, collaborators. After the show, both men continued pursuing solo careers, with Baird touring behind his 2019 EP All Over Me and Lee releasing the song “I Dream in Southern” featuring Kelly Clarkson, which was written by Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, and Brandy Clark. Lee and Clarkson performed the song on an episode of The Voice that aired last year.



Emerging singer-songwriter Chris Bandi has been signed to RECORDS, the joint venture between Barry Weiss and Sony Music Entertainment, it was announced Tuesday (Feb. 4).

In a statement, Weiss said he will “look to make Chris Bandi the Country breakout story of 2020” with the help of Bandi’s Jason Massey and Jason Duke co-written debut single “Man Enough Now,” which has racked up over 72 million on-demand audio and video streams and sold over 400,000 consumption units.

Bandi was brought to RECORDS by country singer Ash Bowers and his Wide Open Music management team. He is currently touring with fellow Wide Open Music and RECORDS artist Matt Stell following a road stint with American Idol Season 17 winner Laine Hardy last year.



Industrial duo Contracult Collective have signed with Roadrunner Records, it was announced Jan. 29. The band also released two new singles, “Hogtied” and a reimagined version of Hole’s 1995 single “Violet,” with more music expected later this year.

“We’ve worked harder than we ever have in our lives with Roadrunner on this to create the band we needed to exist,” said Contracult Collective, which consists of members Svart and Culprit, in a statement. “This is for the true freaks.”



Singer-songwriter Tyler Boone has signed a record deal with Antifragile Music, the record label founded by Tom Sarig, it was announced Jan. 29. His new single under the deal, “Paper Wings (MAJ Remix),” will be released February 21, while a full-length is expected later this year.

Over his career to date, Boone has supported an array of artists including Dr. John, Sheryl Crow, Avett Brothers, Shinedown and Hootie & the Blowfish. He is also the founder of the bourbon brand Boone’s Bourbon and co-founder of the Charleston Songwriters Festival and artist services company Artist Formula.