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Music Industry Moves: Swedish House Mafia Sign With Republic; Diddy Links With SALXCO

Sean Diddy Combs
Buchan/Variety

Swedish House Mafia, the dance music trio comprised of Steve Angello, Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso, have signed with Republic Records after a brief stint at Columbia Records. The group, which is managed by Wassim “Sal” Slaiby‘s SALXCO, announced a breakup in 2012 last releasing music in 2013. A new song, “It Gets Better,” is out now.

In other SALXCO news, Slaiby and longtime partner Amir “Cash” Esmailian have “been hired” to work with Sean “Diddy” Combs, per a report in Billboard. It’s unclear in what capacity.

Wednesday, July 14

+ Pharrell Williams helped hand out more than $2 million in grant money to finalists of the Black Ambition Prize. Livegistics was awarded $1 million and the Black Ambition HBCU grand prize winner, Dosso Beauty, was gifted $250,000. Nine additional finalists will see prizes of over $100,000. Of more than 1,700 applicants, 34 finalists received financial awards of at least $15,000 and will continue to participate in the organization’s mentorship initiatives through the end of August.

Black Ambition’s coaches include Jonah Peretti, CEO, BuzzFeed; Tracy Gray, founder and managing partner of The 22 Fund; Noel Fenton, founding Partner of Trinity Ventures; Joann Chen, senior advisor of JFF Employment Technology Fund; and Jessica Salinas, VP of investments, new media. Black Ambition is headed by CEO Felecia Hatcher.

Said Williams: “These are the founders I dreamed would represent Black Ambition. Today we celebrate their determination, resourcefulness and creativity. Because of Black Ambition, the world will be much more equitable. More people of color can pursue their ventures and get what they need to thrive. There’s been too much disparity and discrimination. Black Ambition will continue to create and push for more seats at the table, so that your talent, not your color, determines your results.”

For more information, head to www.blackambitionprize.com.

+ Music agent Beckie Sugden has joined ICM Partners/Primary Talent. She will be based in the company’s  London offices and arrives from X-ray Touring, where she has worked since 2014. Among the acts on her roster, which she brings with her to ICM/Primary, are Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, Russ, Noname, Mick Jenkins and T-Pain, among others. In February, Matt Bates, to whom Sudgen reports, was named head of international/Europe for the agency.

+ Flymachine, a “virtual venue” for live entertainment featuring immersive social experiences, has received $21 million in new funding. The financing was led by Greycroft Partners and SignalFire, with participation from Primary Venture Partners, Contour Venture Partners, Red Sea Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank. Angel investors included music industry heavies Coran Capshaw, Bill Silva, Marty Diamond, Larry Webman and Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons, among others.

+ PR firm SpinLab Communications has named Jill Mango vp of communications and Ally Norton director of communications. Mango, whose career includes PR positions at records companies I.R.S., Atlantic Records, Mammoth, RCA, Island and Wind-up Records, will head up SpinLab’s New York offices. Los Angeles-based Norton spent the last six years working as a publicist at Shore Fire Media, relocating from New York to open its L.A. office in 2018, At Shorefire, Norton worked with such acts as Grizzly Bear, The Voidz, Pussy Riot, Rosanne Cash, Melissa Etheridge and Richard Marx. She also repped the films “Echo In The Canyon,” “Creem: America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine,” and “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice.” Both report to SpinLab founder John Vlautin.

+ Grammy-wining bluegrass artist Billy Strings has signed a publishing administration deal with River House Artists in partnership with Sony Music Publishing. The agreement covers Strings’ current music catalog and future work. River House is led by Lynn Oliver-Cline; its publishing roster includes Ray Fulcher, Grant Gilbert, Nicolette Hayford, Drew Parker, Jordan Rowe and Driver Williams.

+ Christina Erskine is joining Warner Music Australia as senior vp marketing and promotions for Australasia. She most recently held the position of director of engagement at the Sydney Opera House.

+ Heavy Duty Projects, a company specializing in music for screens, is expanding by opening a hub in London, led by Tom Cathcart, and in L.A. by Amanda Yamate, it was announced by Josh Kessler, founding Partner and CEO. Heavy Duty founder Ariel Rechtshaid, a Grammy-winning producer and songwriter (HAIM, Adele, Vampire Weekend), is currently scoring HBO Max’s “Gossip Girl” reboot.

Tuesday, July 13

Nancy Dubuc, CEO of VICE Media Group and former head of A+E Networks, has joined Warner Music Group‘s board of directors. She has been named chairperson of the Audit Committee and a member of the Executive Committee. Thomas H. Lee steps down from the board, which he joined in 2004 as a group of investors bought the company from Time Warner. Lee will retain the title of Director Emeritus.

Said Len Blavatnik, founder and chairman of WMG parent company Access Industries: “Nancy is an exceptional addition to the Board. Her experience in visual and digital media, combined with her knowledge of youth culture and the entertainment market, make her well suited to help guide WMG’s growth. I would also like to thank Tom for his many years of valuable service on the Board, and I’m pleased that we’ll be able to call on his expertise in the future.”

“Music now lives in many different forms, across cultures, technologies, and media,” added Dubuc. “Warner’s dynamic, global approach to creativity and commerce, along with the powerful value proposition it offers artists and songwriters, make it a truly progressive and exciting company. I’m looking forward to working with everyone on the Board to help chart the years ahead.”

+ CAA has signed critically-acclaimed British artist Stormzy for representation in all areas worldwide. In 2017, Stormzy’s debut album “Gang Signs & Prayer,” set a U.K. record for first-week streams and launched two successful singles. His follow-up, 2019’s “Heavy Is the Head,” was nominated for a Mercury Prize in 2020. The agency will also represent Stormzy’s company #Merky, which includes a publishing imprint, #MerkyBooks, and the Merky Foundation, a nonprofit which recently donated £500,000 to fund educational scholarships for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Stormzy is managed by Tobe Onwuka.

+ Nicole George-Middleton has been appointed as executive director of The ASCAP Foundation, reporting to ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews. She replaces Colleen McDonough, who retired earlier this month. George-Middleton will also stay on as ASCAP’s svp of membership, reporting to evp and chief creative officer John Titta. George-Middleton has been at ASCAP since 2008 and has oversight of the daily operational management of ASCAP’s Rhythm & Soul and symphonic and concert membership departments.

+ Atlanta based nonprofit Project Go Dark has partnered with the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC), Spotify x PLUS1 for Black Creatives, Polywork, Sincethe80s and more for its inaugural Music Industry Pipeline (MIP) program, an 8-week paid junior executive program for careers across the music industry. MIP will include a masterclass series, 6-week internship, and a panel and lecture series featuring Black music executives and managers. Those interested in applying can do so here.

Monday, July 12

+ Richard Foster has been pro­moted to vice president, marketing at Epic Records, it was announced by Dave Bell, executive VP and head of marketing, to whom Foster reports.

The New York-based Foster, who joined the Sony Music label in July 2019, is tasked with all digital marketing initiatives including podcasts, website design and data analysis, in addition to managing marketing budgets and liaising with the creative team.

Said Bell: “Rich’s limitless creativity and understanding of both the artist and fan perspective were an immediate standout when he joined the company two years ago. That lead to his shift from Digital Marketing into Product Management, where in both capacities he has helped drive some of our biggest success stories. His quick ascension is a result of hard work, determination and an unwavering eye on what moves the culture and the market.”

Foster had previously held positions at Warner Music Group, Universal Motown Records, Ume/Verve and Combs Enterprises, where he handled such brands as Ciroc and Sean John.

+ Universal Music Group has announced the launch of Virgin Music Label & Artist Services in Brazil. According to the announcement, the newly launched division will focus on supporting the next wave of Brazilian independent artist talent, labels, influencers and entrepreneurs.

As part of this launch, Virgin Music Label & Artist Services Brazil has also announced that it has joined forces with Work Show, Brazil’s top Sertanejo label, with the goal of expanding the reach of Brazilian music culture and Sertanejo music around the world. The first new signing under the partnership is the duo Henrique & Juliano, who bring their entire nine-year catalog to the label.

Virgin Music arrives in Brazil under the leadership of Miguel Cariello, who has been appointed General Manager, Virgin Music Label & Artist Services, Brazil effective immediately. An experienced industry executive, Cariello has served as Content and GTS Director for Universal Music Brazil since 2017, after previously working as a digital marketing manager, artist manager, and event producer.

Work Show founder/CEO Wander says, “I’m 100% confident that we are starting a new cycle of major contributions to the Brazilian music environment, with the joining forces of Work Show and Virgin Music Brazil.” Cariello says, “I feel humbled and grateful for the trust and responsibility the company has bestowed in me. My main goal is to keep the disruptive spirit that has always characterized this legendary label and to broaden Virgin Music legacy with the help of great artists and excellent music.”

Paulo Lima, President of Universal Music Brazil said: “There is no doubt that we are launching one of the most extraordinary business models in the Brazilian music industry.  This game-changing partnership will help establish new expressive milestones among artists and audiences.”

+ Switzerland-based MusicBird AG has acquired the song catalog of songwriter/producer J.R. Rotem, which includes hits by Rihanna (“SOS”), Sean Kingston (“Beautiful Girls”), Leona Lewis (“Better in Time”) and Jason Derulo (“Whatcha Say,” “In My Head”). This purchase marks the first acquisition by MusicBird, a company “seeking investments in quality music copyrights on a worldwide basis,” according to the announcement. Further details about the transaction were not disclosed.

Rotem was represented in the MusicBird transaction by Granderson Des Rochers, LLP; spearheading the acquisition on behalf of MusicBird was its head of music, Sanji Tandan along with Kendall Minter of Taylor English Duma, LLP.

“This is the first of many planned acquisitions,” said MusicBird chairman Jonas Anker. “We’re honored that J.R. Rotem entrusted his amazing song collection to us. It’s a great way to kickstart our music enterprise.”

Rotem said, “Like every songwriter, my songs are a precious part of me. So I am gratified that my songs have found a nurturing home with MusicBird.”

+ Milo Pacheco has been named GM/head of marketing for S-Curve Records, which has been relaunched as a joint venture with Disney Music Group. He reports to S-Curve president and founder Steve Greenberg.

Pacheco was most recently svp of marketing at S-Curve/BMG where he spent nearly six years leading campaigns for artists including AJR, Andy Grammer, Leslie Odom Jr., and We the Kings, among others. Pacheco has also held senior marketing positions at Columbia Records, Crush Management, and Island Records.

“Since 2013, Milo Pacheco has been integral to the success of the S-Curve label and its artists,” Greenberg said.  “His keen marketing skills, combined with a deep knowledge and passion for music, have led him to a leadership role in everything we do. Milo understands artists and their teams, expertly helping them to actualize their creative vision and bring their music to the public.”