Music Industry Moves: Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT Characters Find Home at UMG’s 10:22PM; Cirkut Signs With UMPG

Bored Ape Yacht Club

The Universal Music Group Web3 label 10:22PM, founded by Celine Joshua (a Variety Power of Women honoree this year), today announced the formation of KINGSHIP, a metaverse group consisting of four characters from the Bored Ape Yacht Club. The BAYC is among the most successful NFT collections to launch in the last year. First released as a set of 10,000 computer-generated cartoon ape avatars in April, a second set of Mutant Apes followed, selling out in less than an hour and generating more than $90 million in gross receipts. In September, a bundle of 101 Bored Apes went for $24 million at auction. Individual apes are sold on the Ethereum blockchain.

KINGSHIP marks the first-ever “signing” of a metaverse group, which has plans for additional NFTs, community-based products, activations and experiences in the metaverse.

Leading NFT collector Jimmy McNeils, known as j1mmy.eth, has provided the Apes in KINGSHIP — the foursome consists of a Mutant Ape and three BAYC characters, including the rare Golden Fur and Bluebeam Apes.

“Creating KINGSHIP has been incredibly fun and imaginative,” said Joshua. “I started 10:22PM to push the boundaries of innovation in the music industry and with KINGSHIP, we’re literally inventing what’s possible in real time. Just as we would with any artist or creator, my team and I will work with KINGSHIP to sharpen their vision and develop their unique sound. Each member of the group has their own story and personality that influences and contributes to KINGSHIP’s overall narrative. Through music and events across the metaverse, we will bring the Apes in KINGSHIP to life by building communities and utility, and entertaining audiences around the world.”

Added McNeils: “This deal is a leading example of how powerful commercial rights are for collectible NFT projects and their collectors. I’m incredibly excited to explore this new area of NFT ownership with Celine Joshua and 10:22!”

+ UMPG has signed an exclusive, global publishing deal with producer and songwriter Cirkut, whose arsenal of hits include Katy Perry’s “Part of Me,” “Roar” and “Dark Horse,” “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus, “Sugar” and “Girls Like U” by Maroon 5, as well as “Sweet but Psycho” and “Kings & Queens” by Ava Max. The Canadian creator, whose real name is Henry Walter, also contributed seven songs to the Weeknd’s “Starboy” album and, more recently, to Kanye West’s “Donda.”

Said Cirkut: “I’m thrilled to be working with such an awesome group of people at UMPG. This marks an exciting next chapter for me and I couldn’t ask for a better team to help me achieve my goals.”

“We are so thrilled to welcome the talented Cirkut to our UMPG family,” added Lillia Parsa, SVP of A&R at UMPG. “He is such a force and the mastermind behind some of music’s biggest sounds. We are very much looking forward to what we will build together and happy to be supporting him in the next chapters of his career.”

+ Create Music Group Publishing, a new division of the six year-old data-driven media and technology company, has hired A&R executive Julien Anderson to grow its roster of songwriters and producers. Anderson’s resume includes artist and producer manager whose clients have included rapper Blac Youngsta, producer Tahj Money (Polo G) and Ace Persona (Moneybagg Yo, Roddy Ricch).

“As we continue to grow our business, Julien’s taste, reputation and track record in the hip hop songwriter and producer space will be an amazing addition to our team,” said Carl LeGrett, who heads Create Music Group Publishing.

Added Anderson: “Create Music Publishing has been flying under the radar for some time now, but every week their writers and producers make up a sizable portion of the singles charts. I’m excited to work alongside Carl to continue to build upon what he’s accomplished in such a short time.”

Wednesday, Nov. 10

+ Kobalt has signed Grammy Award-winning artist-producer Young Thug to a worldwide agreement including publishing administration, global synch and creative services for all of his future songs.

One of the major hip-hop artists to emerge in the past few years, Young Thug had two No. 1 albums this year with “Punk” and “Slime Language,” and last year scored 14 Billboard charting hits with no album release. He also released records by artists including Gunna and Lil Keed through his Young Stoner Life label.

Said Kobalt Music VP, Creative, Jill Tschogl, of the deal, “Young Thug’s track record for impacting the modern sound of hip-hop, trap and popular music is undeniable. He is not only one of the most Influential songwriters and artists in rap today, but a cultural icon. It’s an honor to work closely with Young Thug and his team. We look forward to supporting his incredible talent and artistry.”

+ Grammy-winning R&B singer Maxwell has signed a multi-album global recording agreement with BMG, the first new label partnership in his 25-year career. He had previously been with Columbia Records.  

Since the release of his double-platinum debut album, “Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite,” in 1996, Maxwell has established himself as one of the pre-eminent R&B singers in the game, dropping albums infrequently but touring to sell-out audiences frequently. The final chapter in a trilogy of albums that began with 2009’s “BLACKsummers’night” and 2016’s “blackSUMMERS’night” is expected in the coming months. 

Maxwell said, “I’m looking forward to this next chapter and new partnership with my label Musze/BMG and all that we can accomplish together. The sky is the limit!” 

+ Integrated talent management collective YM&U Group have announced the hiring of industry veteran, SuzAnn Brantner as head of marketing for its U.S. music division.  In her newly appointed role, Brantner will oversee the existing marketing staff as well as crafting big picture marketing and strategy for the artists across the YM&U roster in the US. including Steve Aoki, blink 182, Sullivan King and Yung Gravy. She has also been named a member of the US Music Division Board.

YM&U’s managing director of U.S. music, Matt Colon, says, “SuzAnn is one of the most accomplished executives in the music industry. Whether it be as a manager, agent, or marketing executive, she has always been ahead of the field. When it comes to marketing, I have not met anyone with her level of sophistication, organization, innovation, and ability to execute. Our clients, as well as our staff, will all benefit from having her on the team.”

Prior to YM&U, Brantner owned the Family Business for nine years, where she oversaw overall marketing for clients, product-managed their records, marketed their films/events, and executed their digital and social media campaigns. Previously, she held roles at William Morris Endeavor, 3 Artist Management before taking a position in the strategic marketing department at Warner Bros. Records and William Morris Agency.

Tuesday, Nov. 9

Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) has promoted Taylor Testa to vice president, A&R. The Santa Monica-based executive has worked with the likes of Zedd, Kid Harpoon, Kenny Beats and Jimmy Napes, among others, in her previous role as director of A&R.

Testa reports to David Gray and Walter Jones, UMPG co-heads of A&R, who said of her promotion: “It has been rewarding to watch Taylor’s growth as an executive. Her passionate belief in and dedication to our artists and writers, as well as her commitment to mentoring our up-and-coming A&R executives make Taylor an integral member of the UMPG A&R team.”

Testa also serves as songwriting co-chair and Los Angeles chapter head for the nonprofit She Is The Music, leading all-women writing camps and initiatives internationally.

Monday, Nov. 8

+ Dru Bass has joined William Morris Endeavor as a music crossover agent in hip hop and R&B, it was announced today by Kirk Sommer and Lucy Dickins, co-heads, worldwide music, WME. Bass joins the agency from UTA, where he represented such artists as Young Thug, Tierra Whack, Issa Rae’s music company RAEDIO, Emmy-nominated composer Amanda Jones, Harvey Mason Jr., Princess Nokia, Burna Boy, Lil Wayne, Michelle Williams, and Lauryn Hill. He crossed several of these music clients into film and television. Prior to UTA, Bass worked for three years at CAA in the music crossover department, and has also held posts at Universal Motown, RCA/Jive Records and iHeart Radio.

+ Fader Label, which is enjoying success with Clairo, Slayyyter, Lewis Del Mar and others, has officially launched its new management division. Its artists include Shallou, James Ivy, Del Water Gap and Mcamp.

Jon Cohen, who co-founded Fader with Rob Stone, says, “Fader Management is a natural evolution of the artist development we offer through all of the services Cornerstone [their marketing company] and Fader provide. Management enables us to use the infrastructure across our companies to play a bigger role in helping artists build and execute the right strategy and develop incredible creative.”

Stone says, “The Fader has always been about the ‘creator first’ in music, film, live events, podcasts and collaborations. Now with our management division, we’re able to truly partner with best-in-class musicians to create their visions and inspire audiences worldwide.”

+ Prescription Songs has inked a deal with Los Angeles-based producer Derelle Rideout. The signing, a joint venture with Bizness Boi/BBMG, was announced today by Rhea Pasricha, Prescription Songs’s head of A&R, West Coast. Rideout has worked with Kevin Gates, Lil Uzi Vert, Saweetie, Quavo, Gucci Mane, Kodak Black and Flo Milli.

“I’m ecstatic and more than obliged to have signed to Prescription Songs & BBMG,” Rideout says. “Bizness Boi, his manager James Supreme, Eddie and Rhea are very genuine people that I’m appreciative of working closer with. I believe that we’ll experience much success together.”

+ BBR Music Group has promoted Matthew Holmberg to the label group’s director of marketing. Reporting to SVP JoJamie Hahr,  he will manage projects for the label group’s roster of artists including Jason Aldean, Chase Rice, Dustin Lynch, Elvie Shane, Jelly Roll, King Calaway, Kolby Cooper, Lainey Wilson and more.

“Matthew is the perfect fit for this role,” says Hahr. “His passion, creativity and attention to detail is unmatched. He is so loved by our artists and their teams, and we are so thrilled to have him dig in!”