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The Deals: Tencent Conjures Licensing Renewal With Merlin, Olivia-Newton John Rides Primary Wave

A roundup of notable music industry deals from the past two weeks, including Tencent's licensing renewal with Merlin and Olivia Newton-John's new partnership with Primary Wave.

Tencent Music Entertainment Group (TME) has renewed its multi-year licensing agreement with Merlin, the global digital rights agency for independent labels, distributors and other rights-holders. Under the renewal, TME and Merlin will expand their strategic partnership, explore how to drive the creation of music value and enhance the music experience for TME users.

Additionally, Merlin will now license into TME’s online karaoke service WeSing in addition to its QQ Music, KuGuo and Kuwo music streaming services.

“Merlin has the world’s top musicians with a strong appeal among Chinese music fans,” said TME group vp of content cooperation TC Pan. “This collaboration not only creates a ‘music express’ for Chinese lovers of global music, but also enriches the overseas music library of online karaoke for users, to meet the demand for an international singing music and entertainment experience. TME’s strong advantages in music digital transformation, user operation, and big data management will combine with Merlin’s high-quality music content to explore the organic integration of overseas music with the Chinese digital music market.”

The strategic partnership between TME and Merlin was first signed in 2018.

Merlin members account for over 15% of the global digital music market, including tens of thousands of labels and hundreds of thousands of artists from countries around the world. Its membership includes DJ Armin van Buuren’s Armada Music, global indie record label [PIAS] and The state51 Music Group.

TME has additionally reached an exclusive digital licensing deal with peermusic to promote and distribute peermusic’s publishing catalog in China. TME users will have the ability to access the catalog via Tencent’s streaming platform and other other local digital platforms, including QQ Music, Kugou Music, Kuwo Music and WeSing.

One of the largest indie music publishers worldwide, peermusic’s catalog includes songs from artists including The Rolling Stones, Rihanna, Beyonce and Justin Bieber. Its roster, meanwhile, includes artists and producers such as Hamshore Tang, Lee Shih Shiong, Lee Wei Shiong, David Foster, Salaam Remi, Maxim from The Prodigy, Poo Bear and De la Ghetto as well as numerous film/TV composers and sub-publishing collaborations with Concord, BMG, Big Deal and Anthem.

Primary Wave Music Publishing has announced a partnership with singer-songwriter Olivia Newton-John. The deal includes the singer’s catalog of masters and publishing assets, including hits such as “Physical,” “I Honestly Love You,” “A Little More Love,” “Please Mr. Please” and “Have You Never Been Mellow” along with some of her hits from the films Grease and Xanadu, including the Oscar-nominated “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single “Magic.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Newton-John and Primary Wave’s executive team will work together to ensure Newton-John’s brand expands to wider audiences. To facilitate this, Newton-John will be given access to Primary Wave’s entire marketing, branding, Broadway, film/TV and digital strategy teams, as well as its licensing and synch departments.

Newton-John has sold more than 100 million albums and won four Grammys over the course of a five-decade career. Her most recent hit, “You Have to Believe” alongside her daughter Chloe Lattanzi, hit No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

“I’ve been so blessed throughout my career to have worked with some of the greatest songwriters and producers who have helped me achieve my musical successes through the years,” said Newton-John in a statement. “I’m excited about this partnership with Primary Wave as it will not only help introduce my music to new generations but, it will also allow us to create wonderful projects and opportunities for my longtime fans to enjoy all over again in new ways – whilst also bringing new music to them at the same time!”

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Fousheé, who recently enjoyed a streaming hit with her breakout single “Deep End,” has signed with RCA Records.

Fousheé’s voice was first heard as a vocal sample on Sleepy Hallow’s viral TikTok hit “Deep End Freestyle,” though she was not named as the singer on the track. Encouraged by her mother and sister, she later went public in a TikTok video that now boasts over 6 million views. She released the full version of “Deep End” in July.

Deep End” has since reached a number of streaming milestones, including hitting No. 5 on the Spotify Global Viral 50 chart and No. 73 on the Spotify Top Global 200. It also reached No. 1 on the Global Shazam chart.

AMPED has taken over physical distribution for the majority of labels under Entertainment One (eOne), effective Nov. 1. The deal encompasses the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

eOne’s label family includes Death Row Records, Dualtone Records, Artemis Records and Steamhammer as well as a roster of 150 artists on its flagship label that includes Ace Frehley, The Lumineers, Brandy, High on Fire and Bryant Myers.

Several major eOne releases are slated to drop on Black Friday (Nov. 27), including new titles from Frehley, Snoop Dogg, Juicy J, Sodom and Within The Ruins.

Mass Appeal India has signed rapper, singer-songwriter, producer and composer IKKA.

Under the deal, Mass Appeal India will release IKKA’s debut album I in the coming months. The album’s first single, “Level Up” feat. DIVINE (also signed to Mass Appeal), was released on Oct. 26.

Launched in Aug. 2019 as a partnership between Mass Appeal and Universal Music India, Mass Appeal India was established to help spread Indian hip-hop across the globe.

Chartmetric has become the first public, third-party music analytics platform to partner with SiriusXM/Pandora. Under the deal, Chartmetric will host Pandora data for music industry clients across the globe, tracking key metrics from the streaming platform via a new integration that allows it to reveal a market-level view of millions of artists and tracks dating back to 2005.

Beginning on Oct. 27, 28-day unique listener counts, daily/lifetime station adds and daily/lifetime stream counts from Pandora became available at the artist and track level for users of Chartmetric’s free and premium tiers. Chartmetric will additionally create several Pandora-centric charts, including top unique listener counts and top lifetime streams. It will additionally host metrics from three of Pandora’s own weekly charts: Pandora Trendsetters, Pandora Top Spins and Pandora Predictions.

“Adding Pandora’s data is special, as it’s a particularly deep integration into our platform,” said Chartmetric product manager Spencer Franks. “The detailed level of streaming insight over time gives Chartmetric customers useful information to change the way they measure marketing campaigns, allocate team resources, and better connect with their fans, which is what this is all about.”

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Chartmetric to make our data available through their tools, which we know are well-regarded by artists and their teams,” added Dan Wissinger, product manager at Pandora. “When armed with the right data, artists can build an audience on Pandora that moves the needle and continues to tune in long after release week.”

Spanish singer-songwriter Pablo Alborán has renewed his agreements with Warner Music Spain and Warner Chappell Music Spain as he prepares to release his new album Vértigo on Nov. 6.

Over the course of his decade-long career, Alborán has racked up over 42 platinum album certifications, over 3 billion YouTube views and 2 billion audio streams. He has additionally scored nominations at the Grammys, Latin Grammys and World Music Awards. On Sept. 24, he released “Si Hubieras Querido,” the first single off the new album.

Milk & Honey has signed Grammy-winning producer Noah Goldstein to a global management deal. He will be managed by Milk & Honey founder and president Lucas Keller and general manager Nic Warner.

Goldstein has co-written and produced hit tracks including “FourFiveSeconds” for Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney and has worked on multiple albums by West including My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Yeezus, The Life of Pablo, Watch the Throne and Kids See Ghosts (his joint project with Kid Cudi). He also has credits on the Frank Ocean albums Blonde and Endless and Travis Scott’s Rodeo, among many others.

Sheila Eldridge’s Café Mocha Radio Network – an expansion of her flagship media company Miles Ahead Entertainment & Broadcast – has expanded with the launch of the Mocha Podcasts Network (MPN), designed to cater to “multicultural women seeking authentic voices and perspectives.” The announcement makes Eldridge one of the first African-American women to create a podcast network targeted specifically to Black and brown women.

Mocha Podcasts Network will feature nearly two dozen podcasts hosted by entertainers including Loni Love, Sherri Shepherd & Kym Whitley and En Vogue as well as broadcast journalists Rolonda Watts and Jacque Reid.

Shows on the network will include Shepherd & Whitley’s Two Funny Mamas, En Vogue’s “visual podcast” Funky Divas and Watts’ interview series Rolonda On Demand!, described as “a joyous journey of discovery from the bedroom to the boardroom.” Other hosts will include women’s mental health expert Deya Direct (SUPERPOWHER), Black Voters matter co-founder LaTosha Brown and marketing vet Sheila Coates.

Elsewhere, fans of the nationally-syndicated radio show Café Mocha Radio (hosted by Love, YoYo and Angelique Perrin) will be privy to more “behind the mic” content in the podcast iteration of the series. On the faith-based lifestyle series B Lifted Up! hosted by Alfred Edmond Jr. and Dee C. Marshall, listeners will be inspired to “tap into their spiritual gifts and build generational wealth.”

“Today, everyone has a podcast, but the Mocha Podcasts Network provides listeners and advertisers with quality over quantity,” said Eldridge. “As a Black-owned network that proudly celebrates the Black experience, we’re committed to creating content from an authentic perspective.”

Mocha podcasters will be offered production, distribution, marketing, guest booking and/or sales services based on their needs. In addition, Eldrige will extend her longtime partnership with Jim Watkins of Windy Oak Communications to provide state-of-the-art podcast visual and audio production services, while advertising will be led by Reggie Denson, CEO of R2D Marketing Group.

“Our approach goes beyond traditional ads and extends to cross-promotions and partnerships to maximize results and engagement,” said Denson in a statement. “We’re just not selling downloads. We’re creating campaigns and concepts designed to engage listeners. And, most importantly, we’re serving Black women, a demographic that has been largely underrepresented in the podcasting industry despite the fact that they will drive Black spending power toward a whopping $1.5 trillion by 2021.”

Sony Music India has signed Indian composer, singer and lyricist Amaal Mallik. The label will release Mallik’s forthcoming pop music debut as an artist.

Mallik is behind the music featured in some of Bollywood’s biggest films, including Kabir Singh, M S Dhoni The Untold Story and Airlift Kapoor & Sons. He currently boasts over 10 million listeners on Spotify and JioSaavn, while his music has amassed over 3 billion streams on Gaana.

Empress Of (a.k.a. Lorely Rodriguez) has launched her own label, Major Arcana, along with the release of her new single “You’ve Got to Feel” feat. Amber Mark.

“You’ve Got to Feel” follows on the heels of Empress Of’s latest album, I’m Your Empress Of, which was released in March. Rodriguez wrote and produced the entire album with the exception of “U Give It Up” and “Hold Me Like Water,” for which she enlisted Jim-E Stack and Mikey Freedom Hart, respectively.

Lickd, the service that allows content creators to license claims-free commercial music, has struck a partnership with indie record label EMPIRE.

Under the agreement, Lickd users will be able to license music from EMPIRE’s catalog – including tracks by Snoop Dog, XXXTentacion and Tyga — without infringing on copyright. A release announcing the deal notes that hip-hop is the most-searched genre on the Lickd platform.

ONErpm has signed indie pop duo Sports to a two-part label deal under which they will release their forthcoming album, which was preceded by the release of first single “Baby Baby” on Oct. 16.

Comprised of Cale Chronister and Christian Theriot, Sports released their debut EP Naked All the Time in 2015 and their sophomore EP, People Can’t Stop Chillin, the following year. They returned in 2018 with their first full-length album Everyone’s Invited.

RCA Records and Sony Music Latin have jointly signed Dominican-born, trilingual singer Yendry.

Repped by CAA, Yendry is at work on her debut album and recently released the track “El Diablo.” She recently toured the U.K. with Sean Paul.

Popular entertainment podcast Hollywood Locked with Jason Lee – heard on 60 hip-hop radio stations – is coming to the digital TV network FOX Soul with a brand-new look and format. The new TV iteration of the talk series premiered Oct. 30 and will air on a weekly basis.

Launched in 2015, Hollywood Unlocked with Jason Lee is a news and interview show that has featured such A-listers as Cardi B and Floyd Mayweather. Lee and James DuBose will serve as executive producers of the show, while Tarvenia Jones will serve as co-executive producer for FOX Soul.

Lee was previously known for his recurring roles on Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood and the MTV improv series Wild ‘n Out.

“I’m excited to join the FOX Soul digital television network and bring our show to TV. This is all coming at a perfect time for us. We started as a podcast, expanded to a successful nationally syndicated radio show with iHeartRadio, and now to have the opportunity to expand to a network that believes in us is amazing,” said Lee, the show’s executive producer, who launched his new production company Sutter Street Productions simultaneous with the FOX Soul announcement. “It’s a very exciting time for Hollywood Unlocked and my brand. I, along with DJ Damage and my newest co-host Blue Telusma, will deliver can’t miss content for FOX Soul subscribers.”

Operated by Fox Television Stations, FOX Soul was launched in Jan. 2020. It features original and syndicated programming designed for African-American audiences.