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Music Industry Moves: Black Music Action Coalition Awards Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis Music Makers Grant; Chris Schuler Joins Capitol Nashville

Black Music Coalition Music Maker Grant
Courtesy of Black Music Coalition

Chris Schuler has been named VP of Promotion at Capitol Records Nashville. His appointment follows news of Bobby Young’s retirement. Capitol Records Nashville is home to such artists as Luke Bryan, Mickey Guyton, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Little Big Town, among others. Schuler joins after previous positions at Mercury Nashville, Arista Nashville and BMI Nashville.

Said UMG Nashville EVP of Promotion Royce Risser: “Finding the perfect person to lead Capitol Nashville’s promo department has always been a challenging and weighty decision. Chris Schuler … has all the qualities we need to lead and take Capitol to the next level. Capitol’s roster of superstars and their up-and-coming artists are such a critical part of UMG Nashville’s business and future.  Chris is one of the smartest and savviest executives we’ve had come through promotion in the last 10 years. His attention to detail is unmatched.”

“There is nothing in the business like the Capitol roster,” added Schuler. “I’m beyond excited to rejoin the team to continue its ongoing legacy of excellence.”

Chris Schuler

Thursday, Jan 5

+ The Black Music Action Coalition has awarded Atlanta-based artist Mondaii with its 2022 Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis Music Makers Grant. The newly established annual grant provides $5,000 to an emerging producer or songwriter personally selected by Jam and Lewis.

Mondaii was presented with the grant during a BMAC interview and listening session held by Jam, Lewis and BMAC co-founder/co-chairman Willie “Prophet” Stiggers who will help mentor the young artist over the course of the next 12 months as he navigates the release of his next LP. Similarly, all future grant recipients will have the opportunity to be mentored by members of BMAC’s board and executive leadership council.

“Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are two of the greatest examples of the musical genius that has emerged from the Black experience,” said Stiggers. “Music has the power to heal, inspire and to motivate, and we must ensure we are supporting the next generation of storytellers, musicians and the creative community as a whole.”

+ Downtown Music Holdings has acquired Curve Royalty Systems, a royalty services provider that will aim to integrate the suite of distribution and monetization capabilities that operate across the Downtown roster.

Curve was established in 2019 by Tom Allen, Richard Leach and Ray Bush as a royalty processing platform built to deal with the scale and demand of the modern digital music industry.

“Over the course of our discussions, it became apparent that we had a shared vision — Downtown provides real value for their customers and focuses on providing best-in-class products and services. That’s exactly what we’ve tried to achieve with Curve,” said Allen.

Curve is the latest in a series of strategic acquisitions that Downtown has made in recent years. The group recently acquired a series of companies, including FUGA, CD Baby and all its subsidiaries. According to Downtown, additional investments in Beatbread, Vampr and other creator-led music companies have played a key role for the music services provider to support all profiles of businesses in the music industry.

+ The Orchard has promoted Mary Ashley Johnson to the role of executive VP of sales and artist/label management (in the U.S. and Canada), while Katie Studley has been hired as VP, overseeing Nashville. The pair of seasoned execs will work in New York and Nashville, respectively, and both will report to Colleen Theis, the Orchard’s chief operating officer.

Since 2019, Johnson held the title of senior VP of sales and artist/label management (U.S. and Canada), where she drove revenue and market share for the Orchard, while also managing teams responsible for client relationships and high-level strategy on releases across the regions. She will continue that trajectory in the executive VP position.

As the Orchard’s new Nashville VP, Studley will run the office’s day-to-day operations, including the development of new business relationships, as well as providing on-the-ground support to existing clients in the market. Studley joins from a ten-year tenure at Jack White’s Third Man Records where she fulfilled the role of VP, operations and marketing director.

+ Round Hill Music has acquired the producer royalties and related rights of Steve Lillywhite, who is best recognized for his work with rock favorites like U2, the Rolling Stones, the Talking Heads, David Byrne and Phish, among many others.

“As someone who grew up idolizing the bands and albums Steve Lillywhite produced, it is an honor to partner with him on this exciting transaction,” said Josh Gruss, chief executive officer of Round Hill Music. “Steve’s catalog includes royalties to some of the most sought-after songs and albums of all time. We are thrilled to have reached this milestone transaction.”

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, however, the transaction adds to Round Hill’s active investments, which in the past few years, saw the firm invest more than $200 million across more than 40 acquisitions.

Added Lillywhite, “I am grateful to have found in Josh Gruss a kindred spirit who is a pioneer in the music royalty business and the ideal partner for me and my family as I look to my next steps.”

Tuesday, Jan. 3

Singer Ava Max has signed with Scooter Braun’s SB Projects, Variety has confirmed, where she will be represented by Allison Kaye. Max was previously managed by Jeffrey Azoff and Tommy Bruce’s Full Stop Management.

Kaye, a veteran of Variety‘s Hitmakers list, has worked closely with Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande at SB Projects, where she holds the title of president at the company.

Max logged her first hit in 2017 with Le Youth on the track “Clap Your Hands.” A year later, she released her debut single “Sweet but Psycho,” which became a global smash, earning RIAA-certified platinum status and becoming one of the most consumed songs of 2019.

The Albanian-American artist is currently gearing up for the release of her second full-length album “Diamonds & Dancefloors,” which is set to drop on Jan. 27.

The new collection, which Max has described as “heartbreak on the dancefloor,” will feature the recently-released singles “Maybe You’re The Problem,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Dancing’s Done” and “Weapons.” Over the holidays, she additionally teased three electro-pop-infused singles from the forthcoming album over social media.

“Diamonds & Dancefloors” was originally slated for release in October.

+ Bria Fisher has been tapped as the first director of communications for Empire, reporting to senior VP of marketing Peter Kadin. She joins from Biz 3, where she worked for nearly three years with artists and projects including Larry June, Belly, Juicy J, Maxo Kream, Wale, Blu DeTiger, 24kGoldn, Jessie Reyez and Black Music Action Coalition. Prior to Biz 3, she worked as an account executive for FYI Brand Group with Jhené Aiko, 21 Savage, 6lack, Rich the Kid, the Black Lives Matter Global Network, and Russell Westbrook’s Why Not? foundation, among others. 

+ Cash Cash will be releasing their first single, “Anyway,” on Jan. 13 following almost two years of hiatus. “Anyway” will be the producer trio’s first release under Ultra Records and Sony Music, with whom they signed last summer.

“Anyway” features RuthAnne, who is best known for co-writing hits for One Direction, Britney Spears, Bebe Rexha, Westlife and more.

The group, composed of brothers Jean Paul and Alex Makhlouf, as well as life-long friend Samuel Frisch, was previously signed to Big Beat (Atlantic Records) and has released five full-length albums, along with a range of EPs and singles. Cash Cash also boasts residencies at Las Vegas Zouk, Premier Atlantic City, and New York City’s TAO Group.