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The Deals: WMG Partners With NFT Platform OpenSea; Audius Acquires SoundStage.fm

Also this week: Merlin pacts with Kuaishou, Lil Durk teams with Exceed Talent Capital and more.

Warner Music Group (WMG) is collaborating with NFT marketplace OpenSea to enable select WMG artists to build and extend their fan communities in Web3. Under the partnership, WMG artists will be offered early access to OpenSea’s new drops product along with improved discoverability, personalized storytelling on customized landing pages and OpenSea’s safety and security features. They will also receive dedicated support and best practices from the OpenSea team while enjoying their own dedicated drop pages to host limited-edition projects. The first collection will be a collaboration between Warner Records UK and Web3 company Probably Nothing, which recently launched Probably a Label, a Web3 record label in partnership with Warner Records.

Audius, a decentralized music community and discovery platform for developers, artists and fans, acquired virtual music experience platform SoundStage.fm. Based in Barcelona, SoundStage.fm offers interactive experiences for fans — enabling engagement through dancing and live-reaction based functions — while providing new branding and monetization opportunities for artists. The platform has featured artists including Firebeatz, Kill Paris and ill.Gates.

Independent digital music licensing partners Merlin signed a new partnership with China-based short-form video platform Kuaishou. Under the agreement, Merlin members’ music will be available across Kuaishou products including Kwai and SnackVideo. Kuaishou boasts over 1 billion monthly active users across the globe, according to a press release.

Exceed Talent Capital, a platform that enables people to purchase SEC-compliant shares of talent, partnered with Lil Durk to offer an IPO for his upcoming OTF collaboration release of the song “Bedtime” with his artist Doodie Lo, allowing fans to participate in revenues of royalties from the song. To celebrate the partnership, Lil Durk and Exceed will release the “Trenches All-Access Pass” NFT, enabling exclusive access to the private Grand Theft Auto roleplay server built by Lil Durk and his OTF Gaming company. The Exceed presale will grant immediate lifetime access, limited edition in-game wearables and offer holders first dibs on shares from the music IPO.

Sony Music struck a joint venture with Josh and Sam Fluxgold under the banner Oneway Records to sign and develop artists in Israel. The JV will focus on artists with international appeal. (Variety)

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Sony Music Entertainment Middle East and Kuwait-based creative studio, music and video production company Ghmza partnered to produce music and promote emerging Khaleeji pop artists across the Middle East. Actor and Arabic pop singer Bader Al Shuaibi and Kuwaiti singer, songwriter and TV personality Bashar al-Shatti will be the first two artists to work with Sony under the new partnership.

FaZe Holdings, parent company of gaming and youth culture platform FaZe Clan, will develop original content, private fan events, exclusive merchandise and more in partnership with Xfinity. Under the deal, Xfinity will become the official internet and mobile provider for FaZe Clan. The two companies will also host The Gig, a series of private music and gaming-crossover events for college students, featuring hip-hop artist and longtime FaZe Clan family member Offset. Fans in attendance will have the opportunity to meet FaZe Clan members, learn about exclusive Xfinity offers for students and more. The first show will take place Nov. 3 at Boston’s MGM Ballroom, followed by a second at the Tabernacle in Atlanta on Nov. 10. The two companies will additionally produce an original series, Rig Raiders Brought to you by Xfinity, featuring FaZe Clan members and special guests delivering game set-ups for underserved creators and communities. Xfinity branding will also be integrated into FaZe Clan’s ongoing programming across all channels and content.

VNUE partnered with South America-based gaming and entertainment co-development firm Kokku to bring a continuous VNUE festival and multi-stage experience to Roblox in Q1 of 2023. The VNUE festival will present both free and ticketed concerts, music launches, listening parties and more across multiple themed and customizable stages. Partners, sponsors and official music curators will be announced soon. Artists will be compensated via the VNUE performance agreement model and earn performance royalties, tracked by VNUE’s Soundstr music ID technology. VNUE has also retained ICON Capital Group to raise $15M or more in order to list on the NASDAQ Stock Market in the coming months.

Community-driven, open-source artificial intelligence company Stability AI announced $101 million in funding. The round was led by Coatue, Lightspeed Venture Partners and O’Shaughnessy Ventures LLC. The company will use the funding to accelerate the development of open AI models for image, language, audio, video, 3D and more, for consumer and enterprise use cases worldwide. Stability AI is the company behind Stable Diffusion, a free and open-source text-to-image generator that launched in August. Stability AI’s consumer-facing product DreamStudio boasts over 1 million registered users across more than 50 countries, according to a press release.

Dim Mak En Fuego — the Latin imprint of Steve Aoki‘s record label Dim Mak — has signed Ecuadorian-Colombian producer and DJ 2DEEP. The co-owner of reggaeton-electronic event Reggaetonlandia, 2DEEP most recently co-produced Natanael Cano and Aoki’s “Nataaoki,” which dropped earlier this year. He’s slated to release his freshman EP next year, his first project under Dim Mak En Fuego. 2DEEP is the first producer/DJ to join the label’s roster, which includes artists such as Andrezka and AquihayAquihay. – Griselda Flores

Melle Brown and ESSEL are among the first signees to Parachute, Virgin Music UK‘s new distribution and artist services arm for dance and electronic artists with crossover appeal. The imprint is inspired by the late ’70s sounds of Casablanca’s Parachute Records. The first unofficial single from Parachute was Brown’s “Feel About You” feat. Annie Mac. It was followed by ESSEL’s “Don’t Walk Away.”

Volumetric capture and immersive content company YOOM, formerly known as Tetavi, raised $15 million from investors including Jimmy Iovine, Finneas O’Connell, SpringHill Company CEO Maverick Carter, Darkroom CEO Justin Lubliner and Main Street Advisors founder, chairman and CEO Paul Wachter. All have signed on as strategic partners, joining the company’s largest existing investors and shareholders including Insight Partners, Marc Rowan and Aaron Stone.

Musician and Web3 artist Daniel Allan signed with CAA for representation. According to the agency, Allan’s NFT music projects have generated over $700,000 and more than 20 million streams worldwide. Like his sophomore EP Overstimulated, his latest EP Glass House was released with the use of NFTs on Sept. 30.

Session and Songwriters of North America (SONA) partnered to make Session’s app, Session Studio, available to all SONA members. Session Studio allows SONA members to capture song and recording data at the point of creation and deliver it downstream to managers, labels, publishers, CMOs and digital service providers. Members will also have access to Session Studio’s collaboration tools. Exclusive resources will be rolled out to SONA members as part of the collaboration.

American Idol runner-up HunterGirl signed with 19 Recordings/BMG. The singer-songwriter released her debut track on the label, “Hometown Out of Me,” on Friday (Oct. 21).

Oak View Group (OVG) signed an exclusive multi-year arena naming rights agreement with Baltimore-based CFG Bank. Under the deal, OVG’s forthcoming arena in the city will be renamed CFG Bank Arena. The venue is projected to open in February 2023. The agreement includes prominent exterior and interior signage, exclusive benefits to CFG Bank clients, cardholders and employees and the launch of a new community engagement program. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The Hives signed with Matt Greer at ATC Management. Greer will co-manage the Swedish five-piece rock band alongside Brian Message and Courtyard Management’s Chris Hufford. The band was previously managed by Cyndy Villano at Do Good Work Management.

Production music company KPM Music launched a Web3 community that will offer music creators the opportunity to purchase digital collectibles entitled KPM Music Genesis Collection, including music from KPM’s “Greensleeves” series. The collectibles will be available exclusively on TuneGO, a Web3 platform operating on the Flow blockchain.

Indie singer VÉRITÉ partnered with Troy Carter and Suzy Ryoo‘s Venice Music. Venice offers tools, services and support on part with major labels while allowing artists to retain ownership and creative autonomy over their work.

J-Pop star Ado signed with Geffen Records. Ado — the voice actor behind the lead character in One Piece Film Red, the 15th film in the blockbuster Japanese franchise — provided vocals for seven songs featured in the film and on its official soundtrack.

Vietnamese/Chinese-American artist Spence Lee, formerly known as Shotta Spence, signed with 88rising in partnership with Mike WiLL Made-It/Ear Drummers Records. He will release his latest single, “On God,” on Friday (Oct. 28).

Turkish rapper and DJ Lil Key signed with Atlantic Records Germany, marking the first time the label has signed an artist from outside Germany.

CD Baby signed an agreement with fan engagement platform Laylo to offer CD Baby users an exclusive discount on Laylo’s Pro tier. Laylo allows artists to notify their fans about new music releases, content, merch and event announcements via text, email and Facebook Messenger.

Nettwerk Records signed Massachusetts-based lo-fi artist and music producer Towerz and Mississippi-based rapper/singer/producer Laeland.