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The Deals: TikTok’s New Pact With WMG, MelodyVR Buys Napster

A roundup of notable music industry deals from the past two weeks, including TikTok's new licensing agreement with Warner Music and MelodyVR's acquisition of Napster.

TikTok has struck a licensing deal with Warner Music Group (WMG) that encompasses both its recorded music division and Warner Chappell publishing division, Billboard has confirmed. The new agreement follows a short-term licensing pact the companies signed back in April.

The licensing agreement – the second in less than two months for TikTok following its announcement of a new licensing deal with Sony Music in November – will increase WMG’s fees for song rights and ramp up the company’s collaborations with the booming social app. Additional details, including term length, were not disclosed.

WMG’s current roster includes such megastars as Dua Lipa, Lizzo, Ed Sheeran, Cardi B and Coldplay.

Virtual reality livestream platform MelodyVR has completed its acquisition of Napster.

“Over the coming year, we intend to leverage the existing Napster userbase, partners and underlying technologies…as part of the foundation to build a next-generation music platform,” said MelodyVR CEO Anthony Matchett, who described the planned venture as a “cross-platform, hybrid music service, delivering audio recordings including the latest albums, video content incorporating music videos and documentaries, as well as renowned live-events.”

Once a giant in the peer-to-peer file-sharing space during the late 1990s and early 2000s, Napster now operates as a streaming service and boasts five million users and over 1.1 million paying subscribers — numbers that include users on third-party services powered by Napster, including SONOS Radio.

Matchett further stated that MelodyVR will look to grow the company’s userbase “far beyond the $100m of revenue that is currently being generated.”

Ingrooves Music Group announced Thursday it has acquired Electromode, a leading independent music distributor in South Africa with a roster of more than 200 artists and labels. The deal marks Ingrooves’ entrance into Africa and is just the latest sign of growth across the continent’s music market.

As part of the deal, Electromode managing director Chris Ghelakis will stay on to lead his Johannesburg-based team, working with Ingrooves to boost African artists and brands and find new audiences around the globe. Electromode comes with a catalog of 30,000-plus songs courtesy of a label roster that includes New Money Gang, Pizza Hub, Ambitouz Entertainment and Spirit Music.

“Music consumption in Africa continues to increase year over year and has become one of the most exciting growing music markets in the world,” said Bob Roback, CEO of Ingrooves Music Group. “Chris and his team have built one of the most vibrant independent music distributors in Africa and we are thrilled for him to be leading our expansion into the region. We look forward to growing artists in Africa and introducing African artists to new audiences around the world.”

DJ streaming and subscription service Beatport has acquired Loopmasters, the U.K.-based record label and online retailer for sound packs and plugins. The deal includes Loopmasters’ consumer brands Loopcloud and Plugin Boutique.

Beatport and Loopmasters have been in business together since Aug. 2019, when the two companies signed a partnership that resulted in Beatport integrating Loopmasters’ product suite into its website and making a strategic investment in the company. Since then, the two companies have launched several strategic and marketing initiatives “that brought both…to this logical conclusion of a full combination.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Matt Pelling and the entire Loopmasters team are world-class people who have built amazing products for the producer community that simply belong in our ecosystem,” said Beatport CEO Robb McDaniels in a statement. “The phenomenal growth of Plugin Boutique, the leading global seller of virtual instrument plug-ins, and the recent launch of Loopcloud, an innovative subscription service for the samples market, are a testament to the talent of their team, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome them to the Beatport family.”

As part of the deal, Loopmasters founder Matt Pelling and Gareth Halsall, Plugin Boutique’s general manager, signed multi-year contracts and will continue to lead Loopmasters. Pelling will report to McDaniels and the company will retain its offices south of London.

“We have been very impressed by the power of the Beatport brand with the global DJ producer marketplace, and have thoroughly enjoyed working closely with the Beatport team over the past few years,” added Pelling. “Everyone at Loopmasters strongly believes that the combination of these two great companies will deliver an unparalleled, end-to-end content supply chain for music producers for many years to come.”

In the coming year, the companies plan on fully integrating Loopcloud and Plugin Boutique into Beatport’s retail properties while launching further marketing and promotional programs.

Mom + Pop Music has signed emerging singer-songwriter Frances Forever (a.k.a. Frances Garrett), who won NPR’s Tiny Desk contest in 2019 and recently scored a streaming hit with the track “Space Girl,” which peaked at No. 27 on Billboard‘s Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart.

Hailing from Boston, Frances Forever’s music is described as “a seamless blend of hazy bedroom pop daydreams and crystal-clear radio visions, threaded together in the same melodic galaxy.”

Geffen Records has signed singer, songwriter and actress Olivia Rodrigo. The label will release her debut original new song, “drivers license,” on Jan. 8.

“Drivers license” is a studio-produced version of a song Rodrigo wrote on Instagram last summer. She will release her debut EP — described as a “piano-driven, alt-pop collection of songs” — later this year.

Rodrigo currently stars in Disney+’s High School Musical: The Series and wrote the song “All I Want” for the show’s soundtrack. She is repped by WME, Greene Talent and Camp Far West.