The Deals: Napster Has a New Owner; SoundCloud Acquires AI Tech Firm Musiio
Hivemind Capital Partners and cryptocurrency company Algorand acquired Napster. A tweet announcing the deal noted that the new owners plan “to once again revolutionize the music industry by bringing blockchain and Web3 to artists and fans,” with music industry vet Emmy Lovell coming aboard as Napster’s interim CEO. Napster was previously acquired by virtual reality live music firm MelodyVR for $70 million in 2020. The following year, MelodyVR announced it would be changing its name to Napster Group PLC.
SoundCloud acquired AI technology company Musiio, allowing SoundCloud to enhance its discovery experience and “help to identify talent and trends,” according to a press release. Musiio’s machine-learning tools include B2B audio reference search (described as AI that can “listen” to music), automated tagging and playlisting. Following the acquisition, Musiio co-founder/CEO Hazel Savage and co-founder/CTO Aron Pettersson were named vp, music intelligence and vp, AI and machine learning, respectively; SoundCloud will also fully integrate any remaining Musiio employees.
Believe renewed its deals with Chinese digital platforms Tencent Music Entertainment and NetEase Cloud Music, allowing the company to continue developing its local and international artists on the platforms. Believe currently provides its labels and artists with daily streaming stats from both Tencent and NetEase, offering them the ability to monitor their performance on both platforms in real-time. Believe has operated in China since 2016.
Our Happy Company, a blockchain technology company for the creator economy founded by John Legend, Chris Lin and Kevin Lin, raised $7.5 million in a seed round led by Infinity Ventures Crypto and Animoca Brands. The funds will be used to continue growing and developing the company’s recently-launched social NFT platform OurSong, including the rollout of new features for creators to add experiences to their NFT projects that blend the physical and digital worlds. The seed round also included participation from Cherubic Ventures, Circle Ventures, FBG Capital, Highstreet, HTC, Jump Trading and North Island Ventures.
Multimedia Music acquired the catalog of Atlantic Screen Music, which houses rights to scores from films including 2 Guns, Lone Survivor, The Host, Dredd, Escape Plan and Broken City, in a seven-figure transaction. Composers represented in the catalog include Max Richter, Lorne Balfe, John Paesano, John Debney, Atticus Ross, Antonio Pinto, Steve Jablonsky, Clinton Shorter and Paul Leonard Morgan. The acquisition follows an initial $100 million fundraising round for Multimedia from Metropolitan Partners Group and Pinnacle Bank that previously allowed it to acquire the catalog of all music income and copyrights for composer James Newton Howard. Multimedia was represented in the Atlantic transaction by UK law firm Russells.
S10 Entertainment founder and CEO Brandon Silverstein partnered with Simon Fuller to develop scripted and unscripted projects across film, TV, documentaries and audio under the S10 Films banner. The partnership will open a pipeline between the two companies and potentially lead to opportunities for S10 clients including Anitta and Normani; S10 also has partnerships with companies founded by Jay-Z, Ryan Tedder and Max Matsuura.
SoundExchange signed a data partnership with VEVA Sound to increase the accuracy and efficiency of royalty payments to creators. SoundExchange will accomplish this with VEVA Sound’s cloud-based audio file-sharing, credits and metadata platform VEVA Collect, which collects and compiles creator credits with all associated audio assets to ensure fair compensation for everyone who works on a recording.
Streaming service Qobuz expanded to six new countries: Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Portugal, bringing the total number of countries where the platform operates to 25. The expansion follows Qobuz’s recent $23 million fundraising round.
Polyvinyl Record Co. has acquired an equity stake in San Francisco-based indie label Father/Daughter Records. Under the deal, the two labels will work together while allowing Father/Daughter to maintain autonomy over all creative decisions. Father/Daughter will continue its worldwide distribution deal with Secretly Distribution, while Polyvinyl will now handle direct-to-customer fulfillment.
The Apple Music app is now available on the Roku streaming platform, allowing Apple Music subscribers to stream the service on any Roku device, including Roku streaming players, Roku TV models and Roku premium audio products including the Roku Streambar Pro. Current Apple Music subscribers can access the app using their existing log-in credentials; Roku users without an Apple Music subscription are being offered a one-month free trial through the Roku channel store.
Independent record label and creative agency Big.Ass.Kids (B.A.K) signed an exclusive joint venture and global distribution deal with WMG’s indie label and artist services arm ADA Worldwide. Founded by industry veteran le’Roy Benros in 2021, Big.Ass.Kids’ first project with ADA will be See You Next Year, an emerging artist platform and multi-tiered campaign in partnership with Complex Network’s Pigeons & Planes that will be anchored by a compilation album featuring 10 exclusive tracks from up-and-coming acts.
Def Jam Recordings, 0207 Def Jam and Def Jam Africa have signed Ghanian Afropop, dancehall and reggae artist Stonebwoy. Def Jam Africa will represent Stonebwoy’s music across Africa, Def Jam Recordings will be his label home in the U.S. and 0207 Def Jam will support him in the U.K. Stonebwoy’s first release under the deal was the single “Therapy” on May 3. It serves as the lead single from his forthcoming album due out mid-2022.
Bertus signed Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation to a global distribution deal for all physical releases. Under the agreement, which encompasses new releases as well as reissues of previously released albums, Bertus will be responsible for development, execution, pressing, sales and both B2C and B2B distribution.
NFL player and artist Antonio “AB” Brown launched CAB Records, a new label specifically geared to athletes who want to pursue music, in partnership with Vydia. At launch, professional athletes Jerry Jeudy, Le’Veon Bell and Robby Anderson have plans to work with the label. Last month, CAB released Brown’s new album Paradigm under his performing name AB.
Wisin signed newcomer Andrea Serrano to his record label La Base Music Group, making her the first female artist on the roster. Artistically known as Dreah, Serrano formed part of Wisin’s group on the TV competition series La Voz and made it to the finals. Dreah now joins La Base’s roster of rising artists, including Linares, Chris Andrew, Abdiel and Wisin’s longtime producers Los Legendarios.
R&B artist GoGo Morrow signed with Harmony “H-Money” Samuels’ B.O.E. Records/Universal Music Canada in partnership with Kenya Barris’ Khalabo Music label (a joint venture with Interscope Records). The first release under the deal is Morrow’s debut single “In the Way.”
Rapper-producer Killboy signed to Atlantic Records. The first release under the deal is Killboy’s latest single “Daddy Issues.”