Music Industry Moves: Downtown Music Promotes Three

Downtown Music Holdings Logo
Courtesy of Downtown Music Holdings

Downtown Music Holdings announced three key executive appointments, the first new CEO Andrew Bergman and part of the company’s shift to focus exclusively on music services. Andrew Sparkler has been promoted to chief business officer (cbo), a newly created position, from his previous role of executive vice president, business development. Brad Yuan, most recently senior vice president of operations, has been appointed chief operating officer (coo). Loredana Cacciotti is moving to Downtown Music Holdings from FUGA, a Downtown subsidiary, to assume the role of senior vice president, digital licensing & business affairs. Sparkler and Yuan will continue to report directly to Bergman, and Cacciotti will report to chief revenue officer Dewayne Ector.

“I’m very proud of the breadth and depth of experience reflected on our executive team. The promotions of Andrew, Brad, and Loredana are recognition of the value they’ve already delivered Downtown, and confidence in their ability to further our growth strategy,” said Bergman.

+ YM&U Management has made three hires and one move. It has hired Henley Halem (rapper Yung Gravy, DJs 4B & Valentino Khan and producers Blueysport and Wilder Zoby) and Alex Frankel (Nick Murphy, Chet Faker, MotherMary, Thunder Jackson) to executive managers; Chris Maher, who works with the same roster as Frankel, has been named Manager, Also, manager Conrad Brambila , who handles the Naked & Famous, Nvdes, Xylo and is on the Blink 182/Travis Barker team as a day-to-day manager, has relocated to Nashville, giving the company a presence outside Los Angeles.

+ The Recording Academy has appointed David Gregory chief information officer, effective immediately. He reports to co-president Panos Panay and leads the information technology team responsible for the overall technology infrastructure at the Academy and its awards shows, including network and systems technology, distribution and support of mobile devices, and training. Prior to joining the Recording Academy, Gregory worked with Panay at Berklee College of Music for six years.

“Implementing new technological solutions is critical as we sharpen and modernize our service to staff and members,” said Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy. “David’s track record will further accelerate the Academy’s growth as we continue to refine our practices on every level and transform the future of the organization.”

Thursday, Oct. 14

+ Lyric Capital Group, parent company of Spirit Music Group, has entered into a strategic alliance with Northleaf Capital Partners to the tune of a $500 million investment by Northleaf, which will hold an interest in specific music royalty catalogs managed by Lyric. Lyric/Spirit is home to copyrights from recent releases like “Waves” by Luke Bryan; “Things A Man Oughta Know” by Lainey Wilson; “Country Again” by Thomas Rhett; and “You Time” by Scotty McCreery. It also has a publishing interest in Drake’s “Way 2 Sexy” and “Champagne Poetry.”

With the alliance, Jon Singer (pictured above) stays on as chairman of Spirit Music Group with Lyric continuing to oversee all aspects of the Spirit catalog, which is comprised mostly of “mature music royalty assets.” The combined Spirit/Lyric portfolio contains more than 100,000 songs including 200 No. 1s. Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (“CDPQ”), a global investment group, was also a significant co-investor.

+ After a summer of being publicly listed on NASDAQ, Reservoir Media Inc., the rapidly-growing, independent music rights company, heads into late fall with investments in the entertainment company and podcast content production studio Audio Up. With that, Reservoir joins an elite star-studded group of financial backers such as singer-actor The Weeknd, his manager Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, music manager Larry Rudolph, eOne CEO Darren Throop, founder of Draft FCB and Peloton board member Howard Draft, and Lee Trink, the CEO of gaming/lifestyle company FaZe Clan.

“Our business is a business of firsts,” said Audio Up founder and CEO Jared Gutstadt, who started the podcast company in 2020. “Reservoir’s investment truly looks towards the future of audio entertainment, bringing to life the Reservoir catalog for a brand new audience. This partnership underscores how important audio media is to the music rights holders across the media landscape as it drives listenership to new levels. Reservoir intrinsically understands this model and the unique advantage of being a music publishing and masters platform embedded within the podcast/audio media space.”

Wednesday, Oct .13

+ Music creators marketplace Splice has announced producer Kenny Beats, whose credits include work with Dominic Fike, FKA Twigs and Vince Staples, among others, as it first-ever Artist in Residence. In the program, Kenny Beats will insight on his techniques in engineering, vocal production and more. The six-part series launches today (Oct. 13).

“Splice changed the game,” said Kenny Beats (pictured below) in announcing his participation. “Music creation is more fun than ever, and pretty much anyone can make a song if they want to. As a long time Splice user, I’m pleased to be the first Artist in Residence and share an inside look at how I work.”

Lazy loaded image
Courtesy of Splice

Added Splice founder and CEO Steve Martocci: “Kenny is hugely influential on our community, his content has always been the most requested by our users. Splice is about helping people discover their own untapped potential. Kenny’s energy and love of music making is infectious, and will inspire the next class of creators.”

Tuesday, Oct. 12

Republic Records has named Wes Donehower senior VP of A&R, label co-founder and president Avery Lipman announced on Tuesday. He joins the label after six years in A&R at Columbia Records, where he worked closely with Lil Nas X and Russ as well Koe Wetzel, Quinn XCII and 347Aidan, among others. Based in New York, he started his career as a coordinator at BMG Rights Management.

Wes is a welcomed addition to our growing A&R team and will undoubtedly make a major impact as he continues to sign, identify, and develop a new vanguard of innovative talent,” Lipman said.

Executive VP of A&R Tyler Arnold added, “Wes is an amazing addition to the Republic family. Over the past 5 years, he’s signed some incredibly influential artists and has proven himself to be one of the best A&R’s in the business. I’m really looking forward to working together and am excited to welcome him to the team.”

+ Grammy-winning Senegalese singer Youssou NDour has announced a multi-year partnership agreement between Youssou Ndour & TBI Publishing S.A. and Universal Music Africa.

Commenting on the deal, NDour said simply, “From Africa to the World… Let’s go Universal…”

UMA Managing Director Franck Kacou said, “It is an honor and a great pride for Universal Music Africa to have gained the trust of such a monumental figure in African music culture. Youssou NDour has inspired multiple generations of music fans, each time with his impressive relevance, social resonance and most importantly with his timeless songwriting.”

+ Sony Music Publishing has promoted Moses Martiny to senior VP of global digital commercial strategy. According to the announcement, Moses will further develop and coordinate SMP’s commercial strategies across its global digital business, as well as lead negotiations with key global DSP and online platform partners. In addition, he will liaise with the newly expanded global digital team to grow and diversify songwriter revenue from both established and emerging digital platforms. Based in the company’s U.K. office, he reports to president of global digital Antony Bebawi.

Martiny has led multi-territory negotiations with major digital services including Spotify, Apple, Google/YouTube, Amazon, Deezer and SoundCloud, covering Europe, MENA, India and beyond. He was also integral in closing landmark digital licensing deals, enabling SMP’s songwriters to earn royalties from Facebook/Instagram, TikTok and YouTube Shorts.

Prior to joining Sony Music Publishing, Moses held various strategy and business development positions at EMI Records, PRS for Music and others. Before entering the music business, he spent several years in management consulting with a focus on digital strategy, growth strategy and strategic sourcing.

+ Edgeout Reords has announced the opening of its Nashville office. Located at Universal Music Group’s East Iris Studios (formerly House of Blues Studios) in Nashville’s Berry Hill neighborhood, the Nashville office will be managed by the label’s Los Angeles staff; senior director of digital media & content Jena Yannone has relocated to Nashville to oversee day-to-day operations.

“With all the emerging young rock bands and artists in Nashville we felt it important and necessary to have a presence,” said label founder Tony Guanci. “We have already begun working on a number of exciting opportunities to support the Nashville music scene and are thrilled to be located at UMG’s historic East Iris Studios.”

+ UnitedMasters has partnered with Coinbase to offer artists the choice to be paid in cryptocurrency. Said Steve Stoute, founder and CEO: “Working with Coinbase to give independent artists the ability to be paid in crypto is a natural next step for us, using technology to ensure that the economics of the music business favor the creators behind it. As the financial sector continues to evolve and innovate, we’re committed to putting our artists in the best position to benefit from these changes.”

+ Mathew Knowles and Carlo Antonelli have joined ANote Music, a European marketplace for investing in music royalties, as senior advisers. Said Knowles: “Since first meeting ANote at an industry event in 2019, I’ve been thoroughly impressed by Marzio [F. Schena, CEO and co-founder] and his team’s pioneering approach to alternative funding solutions for music rights owners. As a new era approaches for the music industry, I am excited to play my part in entrenching ANote’s role in it.”

Monday, October 11

Bread Charity, a non-profit founded by Mustafa Sheikh (a.k.a. rapper Lil Mussie) with a mission to aid children living in poverty, has launched Bread Studios in Nipsey Hussle’s former middle school, Edwin Markham Middle School, in the Watts area of Los Angeles. The 1,000-foot studio features five free musical recording facilities aimed at assisting kids from low socio-economic areas, with musical instruments, vocal recording and production equipment for young people to use free of charge. Visit here to see photos of the studio and learn more about the program.

+ Primary Wave Music has struck a deal with the estate of legendary singer Bing Crosby, who appeared in more than 70 feature films and recorded over 1,600 songs in a 50-year-plus career. The partnership finds Primary Wave acquiring a stake in the assets owned by HLC Properties Ltd., the company owned by the Crosby Estate. It includes the Bing Crosby Archives, featuring thousands of recordings by the singer and other artists, many have which have never been released; artist royalties from master recordings featuring his performances; writer royalties from songs he wrote or co-wrote; his rights in the film “White Christmas,” as well as other film, radio, and television productions. In addition, Primary Wave has acquired a stake in his name, likeness, and rights of publicity. The Estate will now have access to Primary Wave’s entire marketing team, digital team, publicity department, branding team, and publishing infrastructure which includes licensing and synch opportunities.

“We couldn’t be more excited about this partnership with Primary Wave. Going into our first meeting, our goal was to find a partner who believed in the vast life that he led, and we know Primary Wave will continue to sustain the legacy of dad.” said the family of Bing Crosby in a joint statement.

“Bing Crosby was one of the most influential stars of the 20th century,” said Larry Mestel, CEO & Founder of Primary Wave Music. He continues, “Our team can’t wait to dive into our partnership with Harry Crosby, Robert Bader and the Crosby family to help reintroduce Bing’s music and legacy to the world.”

+ Syracuse University’s Bandier Program, established by legendary music publisher Marty Bandier, is one of the most prominent music-business programs in the world. Last year, Bandier announced a program to provide financial support for Bandier Program students from underrepresented populations, and last week the program announced its first two honorees: Sofia Elizabeth Gutierrez, a Los Angeles resident of Filipina and Mexican descent, and Alexis Sanon, a Haitian-American from Brooklyn, NY. “The only thing that would make it worth it for me to leave California would be for the one-in-a-million opportunity to be part of the Bandier Program,” Gutierrez, a musician, said, adding that the scholarship has given her “a life-changing opportunity to follow my dream. I’m honored to be one of the first recipients and will not take this opportunity for granted.” Sanon, who got her start in the industry as a teen by creating social media fan accounts for the group One Direction and then learned about other areas of the industry. “This scholarship has been like words of encouragement—that there is a space for me in this industry, and I want to meet this challenge head on,” she said.

“We’re eternally grateful to Marty Bandier for his dedication to the Newhouse School,” said Newhouse dean Mark J. Lodato. “I’m confident Sofia and Alexis will shine in the Bandier Program, and thrive as a part of the Syracuse University community.”