Music Industry Moves: UMPG Signs Ariana Grande Collaborator Tommy Brown; Beggars and Ninja Tune Aim to Go Carbon-Negative

By Jem Aswad

Popular on Variety

+ Universal Music Group has announced a new joint venture with Cedella Marley to launch Tuff Gong Collective (TGC). A global partnership that will encompasses film and television projects, as well as recorded music, TGC will be overseen by Cedella Marley, CEO of the Bob Marley Group of Companies. Additionally, Cedella’s son, Soul Rebel, joins TGC as creative director.

+ Beatport, the platform catering to aspiring and professional DJs, will begin accepting Bitcoin as payment from customers beginning in June, becoming the first major digital music retailer to do so. In addition, Beatport has partnered with Crypto.com to drop an NFT titled “Music for Future Dance Floors” on April 23.

+ TuneCore has announced that it be begin operating across Southeast Asia. The move follows TuneCore launches in Latin America and Africa, bringing its total presence to 14 countries. TuneCore distributes music to a network of more than 150 digital stores and streaming services worldwide, including Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, JOOX, KKBox, Amazon Music, TikTok, QQ Music and Netease, among others.

+ Songtradr has acquired Pretzel, a platform that provides stream-safe music for livestreamers and has seen monthly recurring revenues increase over 600% in the last year. The deal allows for live streaming monetization and offers rights holders such as artists and labels exposure to listeners through live broadcasts.

Monday, April 19

+ Austrian filmmaker Hannes M. Schalle (“Silent Night: A Song for the World”) has three new musical films in the works, as announced at Digital MIPTV. “Beethoven X: The AI Project” is using artificial intelligence to complete Beethoven’s 10th symphony, which was unfinished at the time of his death in 1827. MagentaTV is slated to release the special later this year.

“The Sound of Music Revisited,” about the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical that became a beloved 1965 film, has begun production for a 2022 release on the CW. It will revisit the Salzburg shooting locations and feature new versions of the songs, co-produced by eight-time Grammy winner Humberto Gatica.

Schalle has just completed a multi-part script for “Amadeus,” a limited series about the Austrian-born composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, to be produced in collaboration with the International Mozart Foundation. No production or release dates have been announced.

+ UnitedMasters’ SelectCon, a free two-day virtual conference curated by industry veteran Steve Stoute, has announced several speakers set to take part in SelectCon 003. They include: Stoute, Pharrell Williams, 21 Savage, A$AP Ferg, Apple Music’s Ebro Darden, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Tobe Nwigwe, Snow Tha Product and Jonathan Mannion. Register here for the April 28 and 29 event, which will be streamed on Twitch.

+ Universal Music Publishing Group has signed Ariana Grande/ Justin Bieber/ Blackpink collaborator Tommy Brown (pictured above) to an exclusive global publishing deal.

Brown worked with Ariana Grande on all six of her studio albums, including executive producing the most recent album “Positions,” as well as co-producing “Holy” by Bieber, “Ice Cream” by Blackpink, “Make Believe” by Juice WLRD and more.

Jody Gerson, Chairman and CEO of UMPG, said: “Tommy is the real deal. He is a top-notch songwriter and producer, and he is one of the best early identifiers of talent.”

Brown said: “Thank you Jody Gerson, David Gray and UMPG. I’ve always had great long-term business with Universal and I’m happy to be joining the publishing family. UMPG is a first-class support system for creatives and I look forward to making history together.”

+ In advance of Earth Day 2021, the Beggars Group and Ninja Tune label groups have announced environmental targets that will soon see both companies transform to a carbon negative position. These announcements come at the start of “Turn Up the Volume,” a week curated by Music Declares Emergency that aims to highlight the work on sustainability taking place across U.K. music.

The Beggars Group and Ninja Tune are founding members of IMPALA’s Sustainability Taskforce which, having been established in March 2021, aims to encourage European independent labels to work together to address sustainability issues in a collaborative manner. Both companies are focusing action on areas where they have the largest environmental impacts. Initiatives include encouraging pressing plants to switch to renewable power, reducing the impact of freight operations and minimizing business travel. In addition, both companies have installed renewable energy systems at their London offices.

+ Los Angeles-based sync licensing company HyperExtension has launched a publishing division through a worldwide partnership with Warner Chappell Music. As part of the deal, Warner Chappell will be overseeing administration for the new HyperExtension publishing division, in addition to offering support for HyperExtension songwriters through its Creative Services department. The first signings to the new HyperExtension publishing division include Erik Mattiasson (Melpo Mene), Christopher Barnes (Gem Club), and Henry MacLean and Dylan Grossman (Maryanne Bold).

HyperExtension founder and CEO Rachel Komar said, “I am thrilled to have found such a wonderful partner in Warner Chappell. This partnership has opened us up to new opportunities on a global scale, for our growing roster of exceptionally talented writers, all the while respecting and supporting our artists-first ethos.”

Warner Chappell Music EVP and Global Synchronization Leader Rich Robinson added: “We’re always looking to partner with companies that share our approach to getting songwriters heard and supporting them at all stages of their careers.”

+ Pappy & Harriet’s, the desert outpost nightclub in Pioneertown, California, has named Phil Pirrone as talent buyer. “I’m so thrilled to be working alongside James Irvine and the rest of the crew at Knitting Factory Entertainment and Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace,”  Pirrone said in a social media post. “I’m also so happy that this beautiful place can remain independent in an industry that’s becoming more and more consolidated… Pappy’s means the world to me. The experiences I’ve had there over the years have shaped the person I am today. … All I want to do is make everyone who loves Pappy’s proud and honor this glorious place. The torch being passed to us is, without a doubt, an honor of a lifetime and I promise to bring reverence to the work.”

+ Big Yellow Dog Music has promoted three members of their sync department: Alex Stefano to VP, sync; Sophie Hopkins to director, sync; and Nicole Rhodes to senior coordinator, sync.