Warner Recorded Music and director, writer and producer Lee Daniels formally announced a joint venture covering music projects globally today (Aug. 16). The venture’s first project actually came out last year, as the soundtrack to the Daniels-directed film The United States vs. Billie Holiday, which starred Andra Day and earned her a nomination for best actress at the Academy Awards and a win for best actress in a motion picture, drama at the Golden Globes. The soundtrack, released by Warner Records — which has also released all of Day’s recorded music to date — won a Grammy for best compilation soundtrack for visual media as well.
According to a press release, the JV will cover music projects and soundtracks, and will allow Lee Daniels Music to sign artists to the venture. Amanda Ghost, a former recording artist, songwriter and president of Epic Records, who is currently CEO of AI Film and co-founder of Unigram — both of which are supported by Access Industries’ Len Blavatnik, Warner Music Group’s largest shareholder and vice chair of the board — played a key role in bringing the two together, the companies said. Ghost was executive producer on The United States vs. Billie Holiday; Daniels, whose other works include Precious, Monster’s Ball and the music television drama Empire, continues to have a multi-year deal with 20th Television.
“At Warner, we’ve built a thriving environment for creative pioneers and inspired entrepreneurs,” Warner Recorded Music CEO Max Lousada said in a statement. “Lee is an artistic visionary who has crafted some of the most powerful, moving, and captivating works of our era. Music has always figured prominently in his productions, driving the narrative of great films such as Precious and The Butler, while playing a central role in his influential TV series, Empire. The Billie Holiday soundtrack was a fantastic way to start our relationship, and we’re looking forward to working with Lee on an exciting series of projects inspired by his deep musical knowledge and impeccable taste.”
“I am always looking for new ways to expand and grow,” Daniels said in his own statement. “I’m a filmmaker first and foremost, but theater and music are also such passions of mine. I’m excited to be teaming up with Warner Music. It’s yet another way for me to keep pushing myself creatively — and The United States vs. Billie Holiday is just [the] beginning.” Added Ghost, “This venture brings together the genius of Lee Daniels, the dynamic global team at Warner, and an array of extraordinary artistic voices. Together, they’ll propel great storytelling, create indelible images, and produce hit soundtracks. The Billie Holiday project has already shown us the kind of impactful experiences that will come from this collaboration, and there are some very special movies and music on the way.”