Music Industry Moves: Oscar-Winning ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ Composer Tan Dun Signs With Decca Classics

Tan Dun
Courtesy Decca Classics

Decca Classics has signed the multi award-winning composer and conductor Tan Dun, renowned for his Oscar-winning score to the film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Dun recently finishing conducting the U.K. premiere of his work “The Buddha Passion” at London’s Royal Festival Hall.

Tan Dun says, “Decca has always been a dream for me. As a young artist, I could never have imagined that one day we would embrace each other. I’ve worked with many recording labels over the years, but now, connecting with Decca, I understand. It is so pure and classical and, yet cool and fresh and open to all sorts of music and cultures, it is a very special place. I feel deeply honored to be part of it.”

A native of a remote village in Hunan in China, Dun won an Oscar, Bafta and Grammy award for “Crouching Tiger” was named a UNESCO Global Goodwill Ambassador, and has scored music for events such as the reunification of Hong Kong with China, the world’s celebration of the new millennium and the Beijing Olympics.

On March 3, Decca will release Dun’s “Five Souls,” and will follow with his first major new album with the lavel, “Buddha Passion,” on April 7. Another major world premiere recording, “The Tears of Nature,” follows in September. 

Dun said, “I have two goals in my heart: I don’t just want to establish a musical idea…. I want to develop a  cross-cultural idea that brings nature and classical music, ancient and modern, together.”

Decca Label Group Co-Presidents Tom Lewis and Laura Monks added, “We are so proud to welcome Tan Dun to Decca. He is a global statesman for classical music; arguably one of the most inventive, energetic and warm-hearted composers alive. His story is quite extraordinary. He embodies the sometimes unimaginable and unique way in which music can change your life.”

+ BMG has promoted Allegra Willis Knerr to executive VP of global synch licensing, serving as the lead senior executive managing its synch licensing teams around the world. She will continue to report directly to chief content officer Dominique Casimir.

Willis Knerr joined BMG following the acquisition of Bug Music in 2011, where she had served in film and television licensing roles. She rose through the ranks and was named senior VP of synch licensing in 2020.

Casimir said, “Allegra is playing a key role in setting our Synch standards globally and she constantly develops paths and solutions for new requirements in the licensing field. Allegra does not only have a profound knowledge in repertoire but is as well an excellent and reliable team leader and colleague.”

+ Sweety High, a Gen Z-focused video platform, shared the results of its partnership with the Grammy Awards, with the goal of reaching a younger audience. The platform created dozens of videos concepts and cast 32 creators and emerging artists to distribute over 1,500 pieces of original content across Sweety High Media, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Digital Futures and Sweety High also created a multi-platform editorial program with hosted and social segments, and managed content capture at five different Grammy events. The company claimed 204,171,600 total views from the campaign.

Grammy executive VP of marketing John Loken said, “Sweety High was instrumental in helping us drive significant enthusiasm and engagement with the Gen Z audience. They elevated a range of diverse voices and created a huge amount of culturally significant content with an array of creators at Grammy Week events and across the earned media landscape. It was an amazing partnership.”

+ Secretly Distribution, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, has announced a new strategic partnership with the independent royalty accounting platform Infinite Catalog.

Described as “QuickBooks for royalties” and already in use by over 20 Secretly Distribution labels, Infinite Catalog’s partnership will bring integrations between the two companies’ respective platforms, including the automated delivery of royalty data.

Darius Van Arman, co-CEO of Secretly Distribution, said, “When we got to know the Infinite Catalog team, we were very happy to learn that their principles are aligned with our own. Like us, Infinite Catalog is committed to bringing scale advantage to small and medium-sized labels, so that at a relatively low cost they can have the same caliber of royalty processing capabilities as the biggest music companies. Infinite Catalog is also committed to interoperability, enabling equitable and transparent accounting to artists, and sustaining independence.”

Wed., Feb. 8

Warner Chappell Music has signed a global publishing deal with Grammy-nominated country singer/songwriter Zach Bryan, the company announced Wednesday. Bryan’s hit “Something in the Orange” was the first song penned by a single writer since Taylor Swift’s “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” to top the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and is also his first track to reach the top 10 on the Hot 100. Last year, his album “American Heartbreak” reached No. 5 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and debuted at No. 1 on the country albums chart.

Bryan said, “I’d like to personally thank David [Goldsen] and the team over at Warner Chappell. I was just a confused kid in the Navy four years ago and they were the first people I talked to in the industry, literally. They never pushed a four-man writing team on me, they never asked me to do anything I didn’t want to do, they just believed in me. I owe them more than just support, I owe them back the faith they had in me as a barely 23-year-old Oklahoma kid walking around New York like a sore thumb.”

Goldsen, WCM’s head of A&R for Australia and VP of creative, said, “Zach is a truly generational songwriter and that was obvious from the first time I heard his music. Those songs then, along with countless more since, resonate with everyone who hears them. He’s a natural storyteller with an innate ability to write songs that are unapologetically raw and vulnerable.”

+ Warner Music Group announced Tuesday that Ariel Bardin has joined the company in the newly created post of president of technology. A 16-year veteran of YouTube and Google, he is the second former YouTube executive to join since the streaming giant’s former head of business, Robert Kyncl, took over as WMG’s CEO. Most recently, he was chief product officer at Celonis. As a key member of WMG’s executive leadership team, Bardin will oversee the company’s technology and data teams as well as the development of systems, processes, and products. He will be based in New York and report to Kyncl.

“Ariel understands how technology can serve creativity to have real, long-lasting cultural and commercial impact,” Kyncl said. “He has a tremendous appreciation for artistry, deep technical expertise, and a proven track record in execution at the highest level. We’re fortunate to welcome him to our team.”

Bardin added, “I had the pleasure of working with Robert during our time together at Google, where I especially enjoyed our work empowering and equipping YouTube creators. WMG is entering an exciting new era under his leadership, and I’m looking forward to joining him and the rest of the company on a mission to provide the highest level of service to the company’s artists, songwriters, and teams.” .

+ Music, the investment company headed by Songs co-founder Matt Pincus, has made a significant minority investment in Atlanta-based music company LVRN (Love Renaissance). The investment – which values the company at over $100 million – will provide growth capital for LVRN to build capacity in its existing businesses as well as unlock strategic expansion opportunities, according to the announcement.  Matt Pincus, co-founder and CEO of Music, will join the company’s board of directors which is chaired by LVRN President Tunde Balogun.  

Founded in Atlanta in 2012, LVRN has launched such artists as Summer Walker, 6lack and others. LVRN Records will continue to be released through the company’s relationship with Interscope Geffen A&M Records and Universal Music Group.

“At Music, we invest with a people first mindset,” said Pincus. “Junia, Justice, Tunde, Sean, and Carlon –  along with Amber Grimes and the rest of the LVRN team, are among the finest executives in the music business.  They have built a leading platform and culture at a time when independents are going to play an increasingly crucial role in breaking new artists.”

Balogun added, “Matt is not simply an investor, but an entrepreneur through and through. His hard-earned expertise make him a very valuable resource for LVRN and we are so fortunate to have him play a role in our continued expansion.”

+ Scooter Braun has joined the Make-A-Wish America national board of directors. The appointment follows SB Projects receiving the Chris Greicius Celebrity Award at the 2022 Make-A-Wish annual conference, marking a decade-long relationship with the management home of Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and the Kid Laroi, among others. To date, SBP has granted 546 wishes and has a dedicated in-house philanthropy team which, in 2022 alone, donated $5.8 million to charitable causes in addition to performances and appearances for good, social media promotion and free therapy.

Said Braun: “One of the most impactful aspects of granting a wish is the chance to see the parents and siblings of these kids. I can assure you that you have never witnessed a more selfless and giving human being than those that support their loved ones. Witnessing these wishes reinforces your belief in humanity and allow for a profound realization of the important impact these moments have on the kids and all those around them. It is an honor to join the board and continue granting many more wishes ahead.”

Braun is also aligned with the First Responders Children’s Foundation, which has provided $5 million, COVID-19 Financial Hardship Grants and Bereavement Support Grants for first responders and their families.

+ WME’s music department last week announced the promotion of 7 partners and 12 agents across its global offices in Beverly Hills, New York, Nashville, London, and Sydney. The group of new music agents and partners work across multiple divisions including touring, events, and film scoring with today’s leading artists in pop, rock, country, electronic, hip-hop, and more.

Agents recently promoted to partner include: Dave Bradley in London who is a co-head of WME’s pop division. Bradley’s clients include Dua Lipa, Kim Petras, LCD Soundsystem, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Greta Van Fleet.

Also based in London, new partner Brendan Long has worked at WME for 15 years and became a booking agent in the electronic department in 2011 where he now represents leading names in the genre including Richie Hawtin, Eric Prydz, Adam Beyer, Anna and more.

In Nashville, Henry Glascock became partner with 20 years of experience in the touring and live music industry. Glascock joined WME in 2010 and today represents a roster that includes Parker McCollum, Randy Rogers Band, Josh Abbott Band, Stoney LaRue, and more. 

In Beverly Hills, Doug Singer was named partner after working at the agency since 2006, when he started in the mailroom. Singer’s music clients include Orville Peck, Blood Orange, Vince Staples, DVSN, Majid Jordan, SiR, Johnny Marr, and Lindsey Stirling. He was also recently appointed department lead for podcast and book tours.

Bradley Rainey was also named partner and leads WME’s music for visual media group, taking on a roster of Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy winners including Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Randy Newman, Ludwig Göransson, and Max Richter, among others.

Levi Jackson becomes a partner with 12 years of international marketing experience across the live entertainment business including previous roles at Live Nation and AEG before joining WME in 2017. Jackson leads the tour marketing team for all WME clients including Adele, Luke Combs, Travis Scott, Bruno Mars, Foo Fighters, Dua Lipa, Olivia Rodrigo, Calvin Harris, Backstreet Boys, Dave, Steve Lacy, Peter Gabriel, and more.

Jared Rampersaud, also based in Beverly Hills, is a partner working across the agency’s music roster specializing in live performances for private events and brand activations globally. Rampersaud has secured artists for marquee events including Super Bowl, UFC, Formula 1 and NYFW among others.

Those promoted to agent in contemporary music include Kidder Erdman, Phillip Richard, and Henry Delargy in Beverly Hills; Anna Horowitz and Josh Sanchez in New York; Tom Larner in London; and Brendan Moylan in Sydney. In Nashville, Becca Chisholm, Caleb Fenn, Carter Green, and Kanan Vitolo became agents in the country music department and Morgan Carney in Christian music.