Music Industry Moves: Hipgnosis Acquires Catalog From Andrew Watt

Hipgnosis Songs has acquired yet another catalog, this one from Andrew Watt, who recently was named 2021 Grammy Producer of the Year for his work with Miley Cyrus, Dua Lipa, Post Malone and Ozzy Osbourne. Watt has co-written such massive hits as “Señorita” by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, “Havana” by Camila Cabello, “Let Me Love You” by DJ Snake featuring Justin Bieber, “Eastside” by Benny Blanco, Halsey and Khalid, “Youngblood” by 5 Seconds of Summer and many more. Watt (pictured above, left, with Mercuriades) was represented by manager Scooter Braun (pictured above, across the pool) and attorney Doug Mark. Hipgnosis founder Merck Mercuriadis said, “It is amazing to be welcoming Watt to the Hipgnosis family. He is arguably the most important writer and producer in the world today and I don’t use those words lightly. Watt and Scooter are an incredibly important part of our future.”

Watt said, “Joining the Hipgnosis family was a no brainer for me. Merck is one of the most passionate people about music I have ever met…every conversation we have ever had starts with 30 minutes on The Ramones or The Clash…and then we meet at the record store to dig through the crates and talk shop…he is in the process of changing the game for songwriters. He leads his company by putting the creators first.”

Braun added, “Andrew is one of the most groundbreaking producers and songwriters of our time, and I’ve had the honor to have a front row seat to so many of his record-breaking achievements in the industry. His talent and creative process is unparalleled and we look forward to what the future holds in this new partnership with Merck.”

Hipgnosis, of course, has been on a catalog-acquisition binge that is unparalleled in music industry history and has driven up the price of song catalogs exponentially. In just two weeks early this year it acquired half of Neil Young’s catalog, as well as those of Fleetwood Mac veteran Lindsey Buckingham, producer/executive Jimmy Iovine amd Shakira. In just under three years, Hipgnosis has acquired catalogs by such hitmakers as Timbaland, Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde, Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, Blondie, Barry Manilow, Jeff Bhasker and many more.

Primary Wave Music has acquired the music publishing catalog of veteran songwriters-producers Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers, as well as a share of the duo’s master royalty income stream on the first seven albums by Rihanna, whose early career the pair played a huge role in developing. The multi-million-dollar deal encompasses master income for Rihanna’s biggest hits including “We Found Love,” “Umbrella,” “Don’t Stop the Music,” “Disturbia,” “Stay,” “Rude Boy,” and “What’s My Name,” as well as the duo’s share of publishing on “Shut Up and Drive”, as well as her debut single, “Pon De Replay,” which was included on the demo tape that led to her contract with Def Jam. Other hits in the deal include Kelly Clarkson’s “The Trouble With Love Is,” ‘Nsync’s “(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You,” 5 Seconds of Summer’s “Teeth” and more.

“We feel that Primary Wave will be fantastic caretakers of our catalog and will keep our songs alive for generations to come,” the pair said. “Sturken and Rogers career spans decades of creating top hits and when they discovered and signed Rihanna in 2005 it solidified their place in pop music history as she has proven be one of the world’s biggest stars,” says Justin Shukat, President at Primary Wave Music.

Warner Chappell Music has named Michael LoBiondo head of business development. According to the announcement, he will identify and execute strategic acquisitions and partnerships for the publisher’s frontline songwriters and iconic repertoire of songs. Based in Los Angeles, he will report to Guy Moot, Co-Chair and CEO, and David Woirhaye, EVP and Global CFO.

Moot, along with Warner Chappell Music Co-Chair and COO, Carianne Marshall, said: “Michael brings with him a wealth of experience in music and business development from both the recorded and publishing sides of the business. With music becoming increasingly more global, his wide-ranging expertise will be instrumental in helping us execute big picture deals such as catalog acquisitions and partnerships with emerging technology companies.”

LoBiondo most recently worked at the artist-development and marketing company Mtheory, and previously held posts at Warner Records and Warner Music Group. He began his career in New York as an analyst at Goldman Sachs and went on to serve as Associate Director of Finance for the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation.

Venice Distribution, Troy Carter and Suzy Ryoo’s music and technology platform, has named Sophia Bacuros VP of Digital Marketing and Deryck Vanderbilt-Nicholson Head of US Audience and Culture; the are based in Los Angeles and New York, respectively. Bacuros, who previously held marketing posts at HitCo Entertainment and Warner Records, while Vanderbilt-Nicholson joins from Island Records/4th&B’way.

“Sophia and Deryck bring a combination of skill and taste that independent artists and labels appreciate. They have impeccable track records for breaking artists in innovative ways and will be welcome additions to the Venice team,” Carter said.

+ SoundExchange, the digital royalty-collection service for sound recordings and music publishing, has named Linda Bloss-Baum as Vice President, Government Relations and Public Affairs. According to the announcement, in this new role, Bloss-Baum will head up a revamped public affairs department driving a strategy centered on industry-shaping advocacy efforts in favor of the fair treatment of music creators in the digital age. Bloss-Baum will report to Esther-Mireya Tejeda, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, SoundExchange.

“We are at a critical juncture of transformation that will challenge the ways in which the music industry is organized and the policies we need to ensure its long-term health,” said Tejeda. “Linda’s expertise and background spanning the creator community, Capitol Hill and other policymakers is a perfect fit as SoundExchange seeks to address the industry’s challenges.”

Prior to her appointment, Bloss-Baum spent eight years serving as a liaison between SoundExchange and artists and industry leaders, most recently in the role of Senior Director, Artist and Industry Relations.

“The next five years will reshape the music industry, from where and how music is created and distributed, to the systems that make the business side easier, to how we create a just and equitable ecosystem that reflects the value of artists, labels, and other creators,” said Bloss- Baum. “With a member community of over 245,000, SoundExchange is the only organization that respects the totality of the industry, giving us an important responsibility at the intersection of the technology and music ecosystems. ”

Bloss-Baum previously worked as a consultant and ran the Warner Music Group office in Washington, D.C. and served as Vice President, Public Policy/Government Relations at Universal Music Group/NBC Universal and Time Warner, Inc.

Tuesday, May 4

Solomon Sounds, ne Solomon Sobande, the former manager of the late rapper and songwriter XXXTentacion, has joined Capitol Records as senior vice president of A&R, reporting to Capitol Music Group (CMG) chairman and CEO Jeff Vaughn. Sounds is tasked with signing and develop artists for the company’s flagship label. He’ll be based out of New York.

Sounds has spent the last decade representing artists, most notably the controversial and influential XXXTentacion who was killed in 2018. XXX has sold 61 million albums and singles in the United States, per the RIAA. Since the artist’s death at 20 years old, Sounds has supervised the release of two posthumous albums: 2018’s “Skins” and 2019’s “Bad Vibes Forever.”

Speaking to Variety in 2018, Sounds recalled advice he was given soon after XXX’s death: “Somebody was, like, ‘Yo, pay attention to the Tupac estate and watch what they did,’” he said. “And I learned that’s it’s about not doing everything at once, but being able to spread things out. It’s about balancing and patience.”

Additional Sounds management clients include StaySolidRocky.

Said Vaughn: “Solomon’s proven instinct for identifying impactful artists and his ability to nurture their creativity aligns perfectly with our mission at Capitol. His successes to date reflect our shared commitment to artists from all corners of the pop music landscape, which is more dynamic and diverse than ever.”

“I’m truly excited to build upon the rich history of Capitol Records, and help usher in a new era filled with artists who are pushing the boundaries of creativity and new ways of accomplishing their dreams and goal,” added Sounds. “Jeff Vaughn is assembling a powerhouse team, and I’m grateful to him for believing in my talents and trusting me to help the label grow in the years to come.”

+ Sandbox Entertainment has announced Sandbox Succession, the company’s newly formed division providing estate management services in all areas focusing on name and likeness. The division will be led by Josh Matas, who joined the company in 2015. Matas, working with Sandbox Entertainment President/CEO Jason Owen, plans to cultivate a business that works across artist management, legacy preservation and development of creative artistic opportunities.

Succession counts the estates of Johnny Cash, June Carter and the Carter Family, as well as NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, the most decorated driver in the history of NASCAR, as clients.

“I’m thrilled to announce the creation of Sandbox Succession which is a natural extension of the artist-first mentality that drives all of our businesses,” says Owen. “It’s an honor and a privilege to work with the Estates of these icons. We look forward to preserving and furthering their enduring legacies.”

“Jason and I both come from branding backgrounds, and I got a unique opportunity early on in my time at Sandbox to work with Johnny Cash’s estate.” Matas adds. “The depth of this work emphasized the importance of managing these critical brands.”

+ The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) is partnering with the Recording Academy on a series of upcoming webinars with the Academy’s Chapters and its new Songwriters & Composers Wing aimed at educating the creative membership of each chapter on The MLC’s work.

Each of the webinars will be locally tailored and hosted by representatives of The MLC, who will brief participants on the history behind mechanical licensing, why The MLC was created, how the organization fulfills its mission, the benefits of MLC Membership and more, with ample time for questions and answers. A songwriter from each Academy Chapter will also be involved in each session to provide webinar participants with the unique perspective of the types of creators The MLC serves and take additional questions.

“We are thrilled to work with the Academy on this webinar series, which builds on our ongoing efforts to reach as many potential MLC Members as possible, provide them with the information they need to join our organization and help position themselves to receive the digital audio mechanical royalties they have earned and deserve,” noted Kris Ahrend, CEO of The MLC.

“Academy members were so active in passage of the Music Modernization Act, they should now benefit from The MLC that the Act created. We’re pleased to partner with The MLC to reach our membership of creators far and wide and ultimately get royalties into their hands,” said Daryl P. Friedman, Chief Advocacy Officer of the Recording Academy.

Academy Chapter members will receive an invitation with a registration link in advance of the date of their respective webinar. The full schedule for the series is as follows*:

Nashville Chapter
May 17, 2 p.m. CT

Chicago Chapter
May 25, 11:30 a.m. CT

San Francisco Chapter
May 25, 5:30 p.m. PT

Philadelphia Chapter
May 26, 4 p.m. ET

New York Chapter
June 8, 12:30 p.m. ET

Pacific Northwest Chapter
June 15, 3 p.m. PT

Texas Chapter
June 16, 3:30 p.m. CT

Los Angeles Chapter
June 16, TIME TBD

Florida Chapter
June 23, 12:30 p.m. ET

Atlanta Chapter
July 29, 2 p.m. ET

*An additional webinar is tentatively planned with the Washington, D.C. Chapter, the date and time for which will be announced once they are confirmed.

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