Sony Music has entered into a formal partnership with Tha Lights Global, the company co-founded by Dooney Battle, best known for managing Lil Pump, Variety has learned. The multi-million-dollar deal will align TLG with Sony Music and allow the label to place or distribute its artists through any of Sony’s own properties, among them Columbia, Epic and RCA Records.
The deal was said to involve multiple bidders and a price tag that neared $10 million, though some sources place the final tally at nearly twice that figure. Sony eyed the venture as a way to fortify its efforts in the Urban realm, say insiders, viewing HLG as a forward-thinking, hip-hop-centric, youth-oriented hub with a significant social media footprint thanks to a stable of influencer talent.
Whispers of an impending deal had been floated for some time as TLG artist Dominic Fike was reported to be signing with Sony, which Variety has confirmed. That deal is said to be in the $3 million range and involved what was described as a highly contentious bidding war. Among the suitors were Universal Music’s Republic Records and Interscope, WBR sister label Atlantic Records as well as RCA and Epic.
It is also anticipated that Pump will head over to a Sony Music label once his contractual obligations to Warner Bros. Records are fulfilled and following a post-release hold of at least six months. The rapper, whose hit “Gucci Gang” currently boasts more than 760 million views on YouTube and 413 million plays on Spotify, has been closely watched by the industry, not just because he broke out of SoundCloud virtually overnight, but also due to his public contract renegotiation with WBR. Pump, whose real name is Gazzy García, was a minor when he signed with the label, which his attorney John Branca of Ziffren Brittenham argued left him open to competing offers. (Pump turns 18 on Aug. 17.)
Warners’ winning bid turned out to be a reported $8 million for a one-project deal. Warner Bros. announced Pump’s re-signing in March, marking the first major move for the new leadership regime at the label. Co-chairman/COO Tom Corson officially took the helm in January after several successful years at RCA; co-chairman/CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck remains under contract to Interscope until September. Tha Lights Global signed a joint venture deal with Warner Bros. in early 2017 that was shepherded by then WBR chairman Cameron Strang.
Battle is a native of South Florida who launched TLG as a full-service entertainment company encompassing a record label, music publishing, management and touring divisions. His “one-stop shop for a new generation of social media-driven music stars” is also home to Detroit rappers Zay Hilfigerr and Zayion McCall, whose viral hit “Juju on That Beat” landed the duo a label deal with Atlantic Records.
Modeling TLG after multi-leveled concerns like Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, Sean Combs’ Bad Boy or the Williams brothers’ Cash Money, according to its website, Dooney told Variety in January, “We can be more nimble than a major label. When we work a record, we have the analytics to back it up. We know six months before whether something is going to be the biggest record in the country.”
Fike, who hails from Naples, Florida and is relatively new to the scene, boasts a modest social following. But as Interscope Geffen A&M chairman John Janick recently told Variety, deals for budding rappers are more competitive than ever.
Fike is represented by Stan “The Man” Gabart along with David Fernandez and Daniel Alvarez of Almost-Nothing.
When reached by Variety, reps for Sony Music and Tha Lights Global had no comment.