Music Industry Moves: Primary Wave Inks Publishing Deal With Isaac Hayes Estate

Primary Wave Music has struck a new deal with the estate of singer, actor, songwriter, and composer Isaac Hayes. Terms of the deal will see Primary Wave administer various publishing interests of Hayes’ estate, granting the publisher the opportunity to market his name, image and likeness.

“This venture isn’t just a business endeavor, it’s a fusion of passion and legacy,” said Hayes’ son, Isaac Hayes III. “It’s an honor to align with a powerhouse that reverberates with innovation, authenticity, and remarkable foresight. Together, we’re not just creating notes, but orchestrating the future of a timeless, Black American icon, ensuring that the soul, influence, and genius of Isaac Hayes is forever celebrated and revered.”

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Hayes released over 20 albums across his six-decade-long career. Laying down the foundation of what we know now as Memphis soul, Hayes operated Stax Records and helped to produce songs such as “Soul Man,” which was named one of the most influential songs of the past 50 years by the Grammy Hall of Fame.

As a solo artist, Hayes produced several commercially successful records and he also served as composer for the 1971 film “Shaft.” The “Theme from Shaft” earned Hayes an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1972. This made him the third black person to have ever earned a nod from the Academy.

Primary Wave Music’s Ramon Villa (COO), added: “We thank the Hayes family for entrusting us as a partner to continue the great work they have done to uplift the legacy and artistry of Isaac Hayes. He has always been and will always be the epitome of “cool” and truly his music just makes one feel good. Welcome to the Primary Wave family, Mr. Hayes. We look forward to helping expand the reach of your magic.”

+ Industry execs from both Seven20 and AYITA have joined forces to create the Circuit Group, a new enterprise aiming to acquire 50% ownership in artists’ IP portfolios. Spearheaded by Dean and Jessica Wilson (Seven20), along with Brett Fischer, David Gray, and Harvey Tadman (AYITA), the Circuit Group will support artists in building new opportunities within the music business and also offer traditional artist management.

“The engine at the center of everything in the music business is the song,” said Wilson, CEO and Co-founder of the Circuit Group and longtime manager of deadmau5. “At The Circuit Group, we are building a network of businesses around IP, putting artists’ creativity at the center and engaging and sustaining them over the long term. This ensures that artists continue to share in every revenue stream available to them and ultimately gives them more control over their destinies than traditional business models have offered them.”

The Circuit Group’s current roster includes Chris Lake, deadmau5, FISHER, HoneyLuv, NERO, and Ninajirachi, among others. The company has offices in Los Angeles, Miami, and London.

“I’ve worked with artists for nearly 20 years,” said Brett Fischer, co-founder of The Circuit Group. “What’s being built at Circuit is exciting because we get to really push the limits on each artist’s business and get them the credit they deserve. The company’s mission is excellent. It gives us managers more information to make the right moves while building these brands with a long term goal in mind.”

Pictured above (L-R): Harvey Tadman, David Gray, Jessica Wilson, Dean Wilson, and Brett Fischer of The Circuit Group.

+ The Beatport Group has shared its 2023 recipients for the second annual Diversity + Parity Fund, which will distribute grants totaling $150,000 to aid gender parity and diversity across the music industry.

Change The Beat, Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, ONE OFF TRAKS, Other Village People, Saffron, and We Are Moving The Needle are this year’s grantees. Over the next year, The Beatport Group will support each recipient with strategy, community outreach, editorial and social media support, and more.

“The electronic music community is filled with vibrant groups of creative people who want to make our industry and world better,” said Sofia Ilyas, chief community officer of the Beatport Group. “The recipients of our second annual Diversity + Parity Fund exemplify the spirit of positive change, and it is our hope that their endeavors will resonate in powerful ways across our industry.”

Wednesday, Oct. 4

Oana Ruxandra has announced her move to leave her position as chief digital officer for Warner Music, effective Oct. 6.

Her departure was confirmed in a newsletter with statements from Ruxandra and CEO Robert Kyncl that were distributed among the company, with Billboard being the first to report the news.

“Robert and I have been discussing my role for a while now, and I’ve decided it’s time for a change, one where I explore even further my entrepreneurial spirit,” said Ruxandra, before adding that “Robert has plans for my successor and you’ll be hearing from him about that soon.”

She added that WMG is well positioned “for a bold, bright future” among its “thriving network of gaming, Web3, and AI companies” among its acquisitions and partnerships with Interval Presents, WMG’s podcasting unit, and IMGN, their social media publisher.

In a separate email, Kyncl praised Ruxandra for her guidance during challenges and for helping “to drive streaming revenue, while exploring and developing new paths and platforms that will maximize value for our talent, our team, and our company,” he wrote.

“Her many achievements include groundbreaking partnerships with a huge array of companies from Apple to Meta, Roblox to Twitch, TikTok to Peloton…as well as setting us up for AI.”

+ Warner Music is continuing its expansion into the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by investing in HuManagement, a GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) based company within the region.

HuManagement currently represents and develops 300 creators across the MENA region, with ventures in music, film, television, sports, digital media, marketing and more. According to a press release on the investment, Warner Music’s move to invest “establishes a long-term A&R scouting agreement, in addition to marketing and branding opportunities, empowering Warner Music to identify and amplify artists with the potential to integrate them into its expansive global network.”

Warner Music artists will also inherit HuManagement’s “marketing, public relations, bespoke social media strategies, and branding” tools. The companies have jointly been developing Saudi singer Dalia Mubarak and Lebanese singer and TV personality, Maya Diab.

“As we continue to grow our operations in the Middle East and establish ourselves as market leaders, it’s imperative that we offer our artists an unrivaled service,” said Alfonso Perez-Soto, president of Emerging markets for Warner Music. “By partnering with HuManagement, we are further enhancing the value we can provide to our roster and can guarantee them rounded end-to-end support, for the likes of live shows, sponsorships and brand developments.”

+ Kobalt has promoted Kat Basolo to senior VP of creative synch to oversee the Los Angeles team. Basolo’s previous post was VP of creative synch and prior to joining Kobalt, she spent a decade working under Sony Music Entertainment.

In the past year, Basolo has closed significant synch opportunities for the Kobalt roster with brands including Apple, Marriott, Adobe, Ford, Taco Bell, Nissan as well as in various TV shows, films and promo/trailer marketing initiatives.

“Kat has a strong history delivering for Kobalt and our clients, procuring thousands of synch opportunities since she joined Kobalt in 2014,” said Rob Christensen, Kobalt’s executive VP and head of global synch. “But more than any stat, she has excellent relationships with so many of the world’s top music supervisors because she works hard to understand their needs and then delivers time and time again.”

“I am excited to announce the well-deserved promotion of Kat. Throughout her tenure at Kobalt, Kat has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the success of the Creative Synch team in all its facets,” said Chris Lakey, Kobalt’s senior VP of global creative synch. “From her outstanding reputation within the music sync community to her exceptional interactions with key clients, customers, and colleagues, Kat has remained an exemplary representative of Kobalt. This promotion not only serves as a testament to Kat’s past achievements but also signifies the exciting future she will help shape as she takes the helm of the LA Creative Synch team.”

+ Amanda Rae Kopp, formerly product leader at Warner Music Group, has been promoted to chief product officer at JKBX, an emerging music investment platform.

Kopp will be responsible for aligning product strategies with the company’s overall vision, driving innovation, and ensuring the delivery of high-quality products. Prior to joining JKBX, Kopp rose through the ranks at Warner Music Group, where she oversaw the development of user-friendly web and mobile analytics platforms, with an emphasis on simplicity and accessibility.

JKBX was launched in September by Scott Cohen to offer the ability to invest in Royalty Shares of globally recognized songs.

+ Charta is a newly launched company designed for lawyers to manage filter artist and producer agreements by former entertainment attorney, Zach Bohlender.

“With each passing year, the volume of music being released and the degree to which artists are collaborating with one another continues to grow rapidly while the number of entertainment lawyers does not, creating an ever-growing backlog of these agreements to execute without a solution in sight,” the company’s press release reads. The company was co-founded Charta with his friend Arash Rashidi, an engineer with experience in AI.

Charta helps its users draft a clearance agreement and share that document with their collaborator or their representation or even negotiate all the terms of a clearance agreement on the platform and subsequently sign the final document after it’s generated.

Bohlender shares, “There’s no single bigger pain point in the industry than clearance agreements. The backlog is immense and it prevents artists from releasing music, labels from achieving revenue, managers from focusing on creative and strategic guidance, and lawyers providing high value services.”

Charta launches with key industry support already under its belt. Its early adopters already include the record label APG, producer Kenny Beats, Colture and other international music companies already utilizing the platform.

The company also counts key members of the music industry as investors and advisors, including Che Pope, Matt Colon, Aloe Blacc, Boys Noize and Milana Lewis of Stem.

+ BandLab Technologies has added Kevin Breuner as head of artist development and education, along with Jessica Strassman as the head of industry relations and artist services (Americas). Both will report directly to CEO and co-founder, Meng Ru Kuok.

Breuner joins after 17 years at CD Baby, where he served as senior VP of artist engagement and education where he created and developed the company’s content marketing strategy. At BandLab Technologies, Breuner will develop and oversee strategies to support artist development for creators at any stage in their journey.

Strassman comes from TikTok, where she managed label partnerships between the platform and major labels, UMG and Warner. In her new post, Strassman will drive leadership efforts in industry engagement, and help established artists and labels engage within the BandLab community.

+ Catalog-analysis company Black Lion has partnered with Create Music Group to leverage and accelerate traditional financial analytics on music catalog acquisitions.

“This strategic partnership will significantly expand our ability to identify, research and make deals with rights holders all around the world,” said Create Music Group Co-Founder/Chief Business Operator, Wayne Hampton. “Black Lion’s cutting-edge technology will streamline our deal-making process and enable us to generate increased revenue for Create and for all of our partners.”

Founded in 2021, Black Lion’s core feature is a proprietary valuation engine that utilizes technology to efficiently analyze the performance and value of song catalogs.

“The foundation of the music industry is built upon the sale and acquisition of intellectual property,” added Junaid Khan, founder and CEO of Black Lion. “Traditionally these complex deals require days and sometimes weeks of financial analysis and due diligence. What we have done at Black Lion with our proprietary technology stack is to transform what used to take days into just minutes. That enables companies like Create to efficiently analyze financial data and correctly arrive at valuations, empowering them to fast track competitive deals in a way that puts them a step ahead of everyone else.”

+ Latin Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Chiquis has launched Busy Bee Productions alongside TV and content producer Sebastian Jimenez (“Now and Then” for Apple TV, “La Reina del Sur 2” for Telemundo and more) and media exec Richard Bull.

Some of these projects feature Chiquis in front of the camera, while others see her serving as an executive producer. Currently, Busy Bee Productions has four unscripted and two scripted projects in development and is already in production of its first unscripted series with Chiquis. Busy Bee Productions is headquartered in Studio City, California.

Monday, Oct. 2

Ed Sheeran is donating a portion of the proceeds from sales of “Autumn Variations” — both the original release and the newly-released “Fan Living Room Sessions” — to music education non-profit Save The Music.

The announcement comes on the heels of “Autumn Variations (Fan Living Room Sessions),” an extended version of the album that arrived today and features live performances from surprised fans’ homes. The takes were filmed during the North American leg of Sheeran’s “Mathematics Tour,” and each fan is commemorated in the title of the song recorded in their living room.

Sheeran’s contributions to Save The Music will aid the organization’s goal of helping students, schools, and communities unlock their full potential through making music. In the days leading up to last week’s release of “Autumn Variations,” the singer-songwriter teamed up with Save The Music on surprise visits to five different schools in Los Angeles and New York City, donating guitars to each of their music departments.

+ Sony Music Publishing has renewed its agreement with Grammy award-winning producer and songwriter Lindgren. The deal, made in partnership with hit songwriter, producer and OneRepublic lead singer Ryan Tedder, “expands creative opportunities alongside Tedder on new projects,” per the announcement.

Recently, Lindgren collaborated with Tedder on Blackpink’s new single “The Girls,” which saw its release on Aug. 25. Lindgren’s newest credits also include “Killin’ Me Good” by JIHYO, released on Aug. 18, as well as upcoming projects with Bella Poarch.

Tedder said, “I’ve been working with Lin since the beginning of the pandemic. He blew my mind from the first session with both his speed and musicality. I look at him as a one-stop shop for any and all production, any genre, and he’s also really sneaky with a great lyric every session. Lin is the German wunderkind.”

Added Lindgren, “The SMP team, in tandem with my manager Justin Garza and Tommy Brown as a publishing partner, has been a fantastic home for my work and we’re delighted to welcome Ryan Tedder to the party. They say ‘it takes a village’… and this is a pretty cool village we’ve built.”

+ Dominican rapper El Alfa has signed a new deal with Sound Royalties, a subsidiary of GoDigital Media Group.

Also recognized as “The King of Dembow,” El Alfa has eight albums under his belt and boasts over 22 million monthly listeners on Spotify. He’s set to release a new project on Oct. 19 titled “El Rey Del Dembow,” which is said to incorporate different melodies alongside African and Conga rhythms, infusing other cultures into dembow.

“I’ve been speaking with Sound Royalties for years, and the time finally made sense for us to work together. The best advice I ever received was from Alex Heiche and his team, telling me to register and organize my royalty streams and that whatever I do – don’t sell,” El Alfa said in a statement. “It was because I didn’t sell that I am now able to leverage my back catalog to invest in my future. This multi-million-dollar funding will be instrumental in continuing to build my legacy and cement my influence in the Latin music space. Beyond that, it is foundational for promoting and marketing my music, launching new career opportunities, and releasing more work through my own music label, El Jefe Records.”

+ Seeker Music has hired Dan Stuart as its new general counsel, bringing with him over 20 years of legal representation and advocacy for both talent and music companies.

As a music lawyer, Stuart recently completed a nearly five-year run as senior vice president, business affairs, at AWAL (US) during which AWAL’s US client base was acquired by Sony Music Entertainment. Prior to joining AWAL, Stuart spent five years as a Partner at King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, and 15 years as an attorney at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

Evan Bogart, Seeker’s CEO, said, “I’ve known Dan for almost 20 years. And what I’ve known about Dan since the day I met him is how smart, dedicated, passionate, authentic, and well-respected he is. He is one of the best in the business, and in my view, it’s because he’s not just a lawyer, he’s an OG music guy who really cares about music and music creators. I speak for the entire Seeker family when I say there’s no better fit for someone to serve as our General Counsel.”

Along with Bogart, Stuart joins an executive team composed of Seeker CFO Jennifer Scher, COO Rob Guthrie, Global Head of Creative Steven Melrose, Chief Rights and Royalties Officer Jennifer Blakeman, and Board Chairman, John Smith (representing key investors M&G).

+ Fantasy Records has appointed Lindsay Brandt to the newly-created role of VP of marketing, creative. Brandt will serve as Fantasy’s in-house creative director and head of marketing with a focus on content development and digital strategy. She will report to Margi Cheske, president of Fantasy Records.

Previously, Brandt was senior director, creative and digital for Activist Artists Management in Los Angeles, where she served as the company’s creative and marketing lead working closely with artists such as the Lumineers, Alec Benjamin, Grateful Dead, Dead & Company and Bob Weir.

In 2014, Brandt moved to C3 Presents, where she signed the alt-electro outfit MUTEMATH and launched the band’s independent label and publishing operations. In 2018, she departed to establish her own creative agency and artist management company, Honest Defector, working alongside musicians and visual artists in brand development, marketing, and touring strategy.

At the onset of the pandemic, Brandt served as a marketing advisor to the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA). A member of the Recording Academy, Brandt also sits on Hofstra University’s Music Business Program Board of Advisors.

+ Oak View Group (OVG) has announced the appointment of Kristina Heney as executive vice president (EVP) of marketing, media and conferences. In this newly created position, Heney will become OVG’s head of OVG marketing and communications and also take on leadership of the company’s expanding media and conferences division, including Pollstar and VenuesNow brands.

Heney, who will be based in New York, will report to Francesca Bodie, president of business development, and Chris Granger, president of OVG360. She assumes her new post effective immediately.

As head of OVG marketing, Heney will oversee corporate communications and marketing and be tasked with establishing the OVG brand, as well as leveraging proprietary data to grow OVG businesses including its owned and operated venues, OVG 360, OVG Hospitality, Global Partnerships, GOAL, and Crown Properties Collection.

Heney is also responsible for expanding OVG’s Media & Conferences division into a global presence in the live entertainment space, developing new approaches and differentiated content, and further establishing Pollstar and VenuesNow brands. All media and conference leadership will report to Heney.

+ City Parks Foundation (CPF) held its 2023 benefit fundraiser in Central Park at the flagship SummerStage venue on Sept. 29, honoring Tom Poleman with the SummerStage Icon Award and Devon Eisenberg with the People & Parks Award.

While guests enjoyed special performances by music stars Train and Tim McGraw, the event raised over $1.3 million in donations, making it the company’s most successful benefit to date. All funds raised will support City Parks Foundation’s free arts, sports, environmental education and community-building programs produced each year in New York City public parks.

City Parks Foundation honored Poleman, the chief programming officer and president of national programming for iHeartMedia, with its SummerStage Icon award for his significant contribution to New York City’s arts and culture. City Parks Foundation also honored Eisenberg, co-founder and principal of the Young Women’s Leadership School of the Bronx (TYWLS), with the People and Parks award in recognition of contributions made towards the city’s educational system, and the communities the school serves.

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