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Music Industry Moves: Rita Ora Inks With BMG, Artist Rights Alliance Names Stacey Dansky Executive Director

Rita Ora
Blair Brown

British singer-songwriter Rita Ora, who has scored four U.K. No. 1 singles, has partnered with BMG to release her future recordings.

I’m THRILLED to announce that I am partnering with BMG!!! I couldn’t be happier that they will be my label family moving forward,” Ora said. “Their approach to artist ownership and control is very much aligned with mine, and it’s so empowering to know that I will own all my master recordings that I make from now on. I also feel so motivated to be working with such a dynamic, creative, forward-thinking global company.”

She is also well-known for her TV career, which has seen her hosting awards shows, appearing as a judge in the U.K. on “X Factor,” “The Voice” and the British incarnation of “The Masked Singer.”

Jamie Nelson, BMG VP A&R UK, said, “Rita Ora is an exciting and enduring multi-talented artist with the ability to connect across many different platforms. We’re excited to get cracking.”

+ The Artist Rights Alliance, the artist-run, non-profit organization working to advance songwriters and musicians in the music economy, has named former Viacom vice president Stacey Dansky executive director.

She has worked extensively in copyright affairs and creator rights issues on Capitol Hill while serving as VP of government relations at Viacom for a decade. Previously, she served as chief copyright counsel on the House Judiciary Committee, drafting legislation to establish a public performance right in sound recordings and identifying copyright issues to bring before the committee.

“I look forward to Stacey’s creative guidance through the next phase of growth for the Artist Rights Alliance,” board member Rosanne Cash says. “It’s a critical time for setting the future for young musicians, and we want to leave a legacy of protection and stewardship. Stacey is enthusiastic, curious, and brings her wide experience and expertise to a leadership role in our mission.”

“ARA’s greatest strengths are its artist-led Board and its hard-earned reputation as a trusted and effective voice for the music industry’s songwriters and performers,” said Dansky. “In recent years, the organization has proved its ability to organize broad coalitions by elevating the voices of working artists. I am excited to carry on that tradition and to expand our work into vital areas including arts education and COVID-19 relief. The issues on which the ARA is focused have never been more urgent. Along with our partners and peers in the creative community, we have much to do.”

+ Josh Remsberg has joined Warner Records as senior VP of commercial revenue. He joins after two decades at Universal Music Group, where he most recently served as senior VP of commerce & business development at Capitol Records. In his new post, Remsberg reports to Warner Records EVP  Mike Chester and is based at the label’s LA headquarters. He will work closely with Chester in developing and executing the company’s new release and long-term sales strategy and artist campaigns across streaming, digital, and commercial platforms and accounts.

“Josh is one of the most respected and accomplished execs in our business,” said Mike Chester. “He’s worked across musical genres and generations, from superstars to emerging artists, and he brings a wealth of experience and perspective to his post. Josh is a fantastic addition to the team as we strive to maximize revenue streams across every established, emerging, and future platform, while building long-term careers. I’m very happy to welcome him aboard.”

+ Kobalt has announced the promotion of Emily Bines to VP of creative. Based in Los Angeles, Bines has signed clients such as JPEGMAFIA, mxmtoon, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Clarence Coffee Jr., Violet Skies and others. She also works closely with boutique publishing companies, including TruSauce, Orange Music, Zelig, 88 Rising, SheWrites Publishing and others.

“Emily’s embodies Kobalt’s global creative ethos,” said Chief Creative Officer, Sas Metcalfe. “Her passion and deep knowledge of the global market has been a huge asset to Kobalt. I’m excited to see her continue to grow at the company.”

+ Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment have announced the creation of Sony Entertainment Talent Ventures India (SETVI), a new entertainment company focused on creating ventures for media talent in the country.

Vijay Singh has been appointed CEO of SETVI, joining after 10 years as CEO at Fox Star Studios. Previously, he held senior posts at Tetley Group in London and Sony Music Entertainment India , where he was managing director from 1996 to 2002.

According to the announcement, SETVI combines the expertise and global reach of both companies, leveraging the pool of talent in India to build investment opportunities, partnerships, metaverse solutions and more for talent.

“SETVI will leverage our expertise, deep local relationships and global reach to give talent the potential to scale, become household brands and fully realize their creative and commercial potential,” said SME Asia and Middle East president of corporate strategy Shridhar Subramaniam. “The digital revolution and India’s unique start-up culture bring huge opportunities and SETVI’s role will be to partner with talent to build and serve their fans in exciting new ways.”

+ Swiss fintech company Utopia Music has launched its Royalty Management Services business unit, the foundation of which is Liverpool-based Sentric Music Group. According to the announcement, the unit will enable the company’s copyright management, allocation, distribution, and license management. It will be led by Sentric’s current CEO, Chris Meehan, who joins Utopia Music as VP of Royalty Management Services and who will continue to service Sentric’s existing customer base. Utopia will set up an engineering tech hub in Liverpool and hire several new staffers.

+ The publishing, rights administration and creative services company CCS Rights Management has struck an exclusive sub-publishing agreement with the Irish music publisher Bardis Music Company Ltd.

Through the deal, CCS will represent Bardis Music’s catalog in the territory of Canada, managing major works by top Irish songwriters and composers including Ronan Hardiman (“Lord of the Dance”), Nathan Carter, Daniel O’Donnell, Eurovision winning composer Shay Healy, Marty Mone, Liam Reilly, Brian Warfield, John Farry, Marc Roberts, Mark Armstrong, Stephen McKeon, Fiachna Ó Braonáin, PJ Murrihy, Éanán Patterson, Darren Hendley and more. Some of the artists represented are The Wolfe Tones, Bagatelle, Hot House Flowers, Niall Toner and Picture House.

Wednesday, Feb. 2

+ Activist Artists Management, home to Dwight Yoakam, Dead & Company (co-manager Azoff/Moir), The Lumineers, Alec Benjamin, Empire of the Sun and Michael Franti, among other clients, has named Kristina “Red” Tanner partner, joining Bernie Cahill, Greg Suess, Matt Maher, Liz Norris, Caitlin Stone and Tony Khan. Based out of Atlanta, Tanner joined Activist as a manager in 2010 and launched the firm’s ticketing, commerce and sustainability department, working with Activist artists to neutralize the carbon emissions for tours, management offices, and travel.

Also joining Activist is New York-based Chris Ruff in the newly created position of head of global marketing. A native of the U.K., Ruff was previously director of international for Elektra Music Group and has worked for such labels as Atlantic Records, Sub Pop, Warner Records and Parlophone.

Tuesday, Feb. 1

+ Audio Up, home to such audio programs as Stephen King’s “Strawberry Spring,” Michael Cohen’s “Mea Culpa” and the just-released Audible exclusive “Maejor Frequency,” is bolstering its executive ranks with the hiring of music supervision trailblazer PJ Bloom and label marketing veteran Christine Kauffman.

Bloom (pictured at left) will serve as co-president of music, alongside John Ingrassia. Kauffman has been named executive VP, brand strategy and partnerships.

Bloom’s resume includes, most recently, a nearly five-year run at Warner Records, where he served as SVP of film and television music and soundtracks, leading the label’s creative, marketing and licensing efforts in the music for screens space. Previously, Bloom served as lead music supervisor for the “Glee” franchise and was a founding member of the Guild of Music Supervisors. He’s currently a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammys) and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Emmys). He has collaborated with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Ryan Murphy, Lee Daniels, Michael Mann, Jerry Bruckheimer and Ridley Scott.

Kauffman arrives from music marketing and strategy agency Giant Step and is a former SVP of brand partnerships at Island Records, where she worked on campaigns for such artists as Jessie Reyez, Shawn Mendes, Demi Lovato, Tove Lo and Bishop Briggs, among others. Her experience in music was preceded by a decade working in marketing and business development at iHeartMedia, Condé Nast, The Daily Beast and InStyle.

“I could not be more excited to have PJ and Christine join our Audio Up family,” said founder and CEO Jared Gutstadt. “They truly understand the power of great content. Audio Up is on a unique and exciting trajectory as we build our array of entertainment titles. We have a 360-degree approach to our music based content, and having PJ and Christine in play represents just how TV, music and brands will become part of the Audio Up strategy.  Having best-in-class music, brand and television executives on our side is a game changer, and will allow us true flexibility and autonomy as we grow our brand.”

Added Bloom: “At a time when innovation and disruption are rewarded within the music and media ecosystems, I am so excited to join a company on the cutting edge of the entertainment experience.”

“I’m thrilled to be part of an award-winning team that is creating fresh and innovative ways for brands to drive impact through premium audio, music, content, media, events, and more,” said Kauffman. “It’s an extremely unique offering for brands and the creative community.”

+ Walter Jones (pictured at right), Universal Music Publishing Group’s co-head of A&R since 2019, is leaving the company, a UMPG rep has confirmed to Variety.

Jones is a veteran publisher who has worked closely at UMPG with such artists, writers and producers as H.E.R., Quavo, Lil Baby, Metro Boomin, Lil Yachty, CuBeatz, Quay Global, City Girls and others.

In 2019, Jones earned a Grammy Award for co-producing H.E.R.’s “Album of the Year.”

News of his next move was not immediately available, although a hint may be found in an interview he gave with Hits last year. Asked about talent spotting, he said, “I think the most identifiable solution has been to invest in entrepreneurs who have the time and resources to develop artists. Some of our brightest stars are coming from entrepreneurs like MBK Entertainment, Quality Control, Darkroom, LVRN, Dreamville, Alamo, Since the 80s and more. But I also think there should be space for A&Rs to develop from the ground up. That’s the fun part of making a record.”

In December, Jones was recognized on Variety’s Hitmakers list for his role in the late Pop Smoke’s hit “For the Night” featuring Lil Baby, whom he signed to UMPG, and DaBaby. “The combination of it being a great song written by Pop Smoke, Lil Baby and DaBaby, with production by CashMoneyAP, made it reach the masses organically,” Jones said of the song.

+ Hit songwriter and producer Warren “Oak” Felder has signed a worldwide publishing agreement with Reservoir Media. Felder’s credits include Alessia Cara’s “Scars to Your Beautiful” and “Sorry Not Sorry” by Demi Lovato as well as multiple cuts on John Legend’s “Bigger Love” album. A native of Istanbul, Felder has authored sound packs on multiple platforms including Apple.

Said Felder of the deal: “I am so glad to continue this journey in a new way with an amazing team of dedicated, hardworking, creative, and impressive people. Reservoir has already been a fantastic partner for helping to grow my publishing company and I’m looking forward to putting even more awards on the walls with them.”

Pictured (from left): Reservoir president and COO Rell Lafargue; Reservoir founder and CEO Golnar Khosrowshahi; Warren “Oak” Felder; Reservoir EVP, global creative director Donna Caseine

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