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The Deals: UTA Signs Bret Michaels; Dhruv Plots RCA Records Debut

In this week's Deals roundup: Bret Michaels Signs with UTA, dhruv signs with RCA Records and more.

UTA has announced the signing of Poison frontman and reality TV veteran Bret Michaels. The entertainment company will represent the artist worldwide in all areas.

“Bret Michaels is a true multi-hyphenate. From music and branding, to sports and reality TV he brings 1000% to all his business endeavors and we are honored to welcome him to our roster,” said David Zedeck, partner and co-head of Global Music. “Bret is an enduring superstar whose impact on the entertainment landscape has continuously grown and remained relevant throughout his career. We are excited to work with him as he continues to expand his Michaels Entertainment Group Inc. businesses across various verticals, and we look forward to creating a bold new chapter together.”

Of the signing, Michaels said, “I am honored and excited to sign and partner with UTA. Their forward thinking, big picture vision, work ethic and energy is the perfect match for my have fun and get it done, bet on yourself mentality.”

Michaels continues to be represented by Bruce Flohr and Coran Capshaw at Red Light Management and Janna Elias at Michaels Entertainment Group. Of Michaels’ deal with UTA, Flohr and Elias jointly stated, “Bret has a truly unique creative energy, undeniable passion for all project, continuously bets on himself and forms incredible partnerships. He is a leader that can listen and lives in the here and now. We are excited to be in talks for The Bret Michaels Show in which he does a deep dive on music and sports, discusses the unbroken fighting spirit that drives all of us as well as the crossroads including, discussion of his own namesake stage and sports injuries in which Michaels self-entitled ‘headbangers neck’.”

RCA Records announced the signing of 22-year-old singer/songwriter dhruv. In celebration of the announcement, he has released a new track “stable life”, which he wrote and was produced by Sam Ricci. The track will be featured on his debut EP rapunzel, due out on January 21, 2022.

“rapunzel is a scrapbook I’ve kept during a really important few years of personal growth,” said dhruv of his upcoming project. “The title is in reference to a lyric in the closing track, which talks about our childhood selves often being our least inhibited and truest selves. In many ways, I think this project is about me trying to find that version of myself.”

Earlier this year, dhruv released the music video for his debut track “double take,” which was initially released in 2019 has over 170 million streams on Spotify and is continuing to grow globally after making its chart entrance on Billboard’s Global Excl. US Chart back in August.

Brooklyn-based artist Richie Quake has signed with Mass Appeal as their first alternative artist, alongside a publishing deal with Pulse, with a debut full-length expected in 2022.

“I’m super excited to be teaming up with Mass Appeal for the next stage in my career,” Quake shared about the partnership. “As a Brooklyn native, it feels great to be working with such a legendary New York label, and I’m hype to be their first foray into the indie world! I’m also really happy to be working with the amazing people at Pulse via their partnership with Mass Appeal Publishing. They’re always ahead of the curve when it comes to songwriting and I’m stoked to be working together.”

Mass Appeal added, “Richie Quake is an intriguing artist and songwriter that is elevating his musical footprint. We are thrilled to be on this journey with him and welcome the great artistry of Richie Quake to the Mass Appeal family.“

WME has signed Christian worship group Maverick City Music. Tony Brown and Jonathan Jay founded Maverick City in 2018 and the group is represented by Rush Hicks and Vaughn Alvarez of Undivided Entertainment. In 2021, the group started their first headlining tour with sold out dates across the country.

The group’s 2021 collaborative EP with UpperroomMove Your Heart, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Gospel Album Chart. The collective, which includes artists such as Naomi Raine, Chandler Moore, Brandon Lake, Dante Bowe and more, released their most recent album, Old Church Basement, in collaboration with Elevation Worship in April.

Page 1 Management, a global writer-producer management company, has signed the production team ClickNPress. Kaleb “KQuick” Rollins and Marc “Fresh2Def” Soto as ClickNPress have crafted hits for top artists, including J. Cole, Alessia Cara, Queen Naija and more. The New York City-based duo also has projects featured across a number of top film, TV and gaming properties.

Danielle Middleton, Page 1 senior director said, “I’ve had the privilege to work with Marc and Kaleb in different capacities for years, we’ve grown up together in this industry and formed a bond of mutual respect and understanding. I’m excited to continue that relationship with my new family at Page 1 and to show the world what these great creatives can do. Many thanks to Ashley for understanding and supporting our vision, we all look forward to many wins together.”

Rollins shared of the signing, “We’re very excited to partner with Page 1 for this next phase of our career. Danielle has been a true champion in our corner and Ashley is a powerful addition to the team. We can’t wait to see where this journey takes us!” Soto added that “working with Ashley and Danielle has been like finding a missing piece of a puzzle.”

Universal Music Publishing Group Latin has signed an exclusive worldwide agreement with Cuban singer/songwriter and producer Cimafunk. Known for his brand of Afro Cuban funk, Cimafunk released his sophomore album El Alimento this year, featuring an eclectic roster of collaborators that includes George Clinton, Lupe Fiasco, ChocQuibTown and CeeLo Green. Named a “Latin Artist to Watch” by Billboard in 2019, he has been touring the U.S. and Europe this year.

“Cimafunk is a phenomenal and promising artist who is undoubtedly on the verge of international success with his unique sound,” said Alexandra Lioutikoff, UMPG’s president for Latin America and US Latin. 

Vince Power Music Group has announced that AXS will serve as its official ticketing partner for all their London venues, with the group moving all future on sales to the AXS ticketing system in a five year deal. The group’s London venues include PowerHaus, The Fiddler, Nells and Subterania.

“I am pleased to say we have agreed a partnership with ticketing agent ‘AXS’ for the next 5 years. This comes at the right time for our planned expansion, with festivals in 2023 and the other new venues around the UK on the horizon,” said owner Vince Power. “We look forward to working closely together over the coming years.”

John Talbot, AXS business development director said, “We are delighted to be partnering with Vince and his team. His long running and successful career in live music made the opportunity to work with his latest live venue ventures a very natural step for AXS. We share the same ambition to give world-class ticketing experience for those music fans visiting what are some of the capital’s most exciting gig spaces, whilst furnishing his team with market-leading ticketing tools such as a secure scanning, 100% mobile tickets, reporting and real-time data & insight.”

Absolute Label Services has signed a services deal with Reef for the British rock band’s next album. Under the new deal, Absolute will provide a range of services including distribution, marketing and project management. Reef will release new album, Shoot Me Your Ace, on April 15 2022. The title track is out now and has been produced by Duran Duran’s Andy Taylor. Taylor also joins the band as honorary guitarist, alongside new drummer Luke Bullen, formerly of Joe Strummer’s band, The Mescaleros. Reef will begin a UK tour in April following the new record’s release.

Absolute’s Henry Semmence said, “After a period of lockdown, it is great to start coming out the other side and release some great albums – and this is a great album.  Very proud to be involved with this great band as they move forward and head into 2022 with dates, new music and festivals booked.”

Reef’s manager, Seven Webster from 7pm Management, said, “We were looking at the best way to release the new Reef album and had a number of offers from some extremely keen labels. But, like getting married, it is all about finding the right partner. All in Team Reef felt that releasing with Absolute as our distribution partner, without needlessly signing the band’s rights away, was the best deal in town and, aside from that, the team at Absolute are a joy to work with. Need I say more?”

RECORDS Nashville, the Music City division of Barry Weiss’s RECORDS, a joint venture with Sony Music Entertainment, has announced the signing of singer/songwriter Erin Kinsey to the roster. 

“Erin is exactly the kind of young, fresh artist we’re looking for at RECORDS Nashville,” said Weiss, partner and co-founder of RECORDS.  “A great musician, accomplished songwriter beyond her years, super hard-working and well versed in today’s required acumen on social media platforms, she’s a total home run and winner. We couldn’t be more excited to add this young Texan to the roster.”

Kinsey’s viral single “Just Drive” first debuted on TikTok and quickly went viral with more than 27 million streams and views to date. The song was written by Kinsey, alongside Michael August and Josh Ronan and produced by Ronan, and the two assist her again on the recently released “Better On Me.”

Believe, a digital music company, has acquired Think Music, a leading South India-based music label.

Since entering the market in 2013, Believe India has become a leading player of the Indian digital music market with offices in 7 regions and 171 employees through organic growth and acquisitions.  Believe has been an early mover into the original soundtrack market, one of the largest segments of India’s digital music market, providing digital go-to-market solutions to Bollywood music labels.  With the acquisition of Think Music, Believe further strengthens its position in South India by acquiring a highly reputed brand and one of the leading independent companies for original soundtracks in Tamil language in a market showing strong growth momentum.

“We are very excited to extend our relationship with Believe. Believe’s wide array of innovative, digital first solutions combined with Think Music’s relentless focus on providing the best platform to film, non-film and independent artists soundtracks, will create significant value for all stakeholders.” said Swaroop Reddy, founder of Think Music.

“I am delighted to associate Believe with Think Music the leading South Indian film soundtrack label, founded and run by Swaroop Reddy and his brother, two talented entrepreneurs with a high reputation in the local music and movie industry. I am confident that we will work together to accelerate Think Music digital growth and provides artists with shared expertise and innovation,” said Vivek Raina, managing director of Believe India.

Record label Motown Gospel, a division of Capitol CMG/Capitol and Universal Music Group, announced the signing of four-time GRAMMY nominated duo The Baylor Project to an exclusive distribution agreement, in partnership with their artist-owned label, Be A Light. Their latest project, Generations, releases on streaming platforms on December 10 to coincide with the signing.

The Baylor Project features vocalist Jean Baylor and drummer Marcus Baylor, married musical partners with deep church backgrounds. Before forming The Baylor Project in 2013, Jean was part of groundbreaking R&B duo Zhané that hit the scene in the early 1990s. Marcus first rose to prominence in the early 2000’s as the drummer for the fusion group Yellowjackets. Last year, their pandemic-era single “Sit On Down” was GRAMMY® nominated for Best Traditional R&B Performance.

“The Baylor Project has proven their ability to seamlessly merge core jazz, R&B, and gospel creatively while building a loyal following among fans of all three styles in the U.S. and abroad,” said Monica Coates, co-executive director, Motown Gospel. “That they did those things as independent artists, making their home at the top of the jazz charts and earning 4 GRAMMY® nominations along the way is truly praiseworthy. Motown Gospel and Capitol CMG are proud to join them in this innovative new partnership.”