Music Industry Moves: Muddy Waters Estate Signs Worldwide Admin Deal With Sony Music Publishing

The estate of Chicago blues pioneer Muddy Waters has signed a worldwide deal with Sony Music Publishing to administer his complete catalog of songs, including legendary hits such as “Mannish Boy,” “Rollin’ Stone,” “Champagne & Reefer,” “I Can’t Be Satisfied,” and more.

Waters, real name McKinley Morganfield, is widely considered one of the most influential figures in blues and rock-and-roll in the U.S. and globally. His legacy has gone on to inspire artists across generations from Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page to Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger and countless others.

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“Muddy Waters was without a doubt one of the most impactful songwriters in modern music,” echoed Sony Music Publishing Chairman and CEO Jon Platt in a statement. “His vibrant, expressive sound is embodied in music today and continues to inspire generations. We look forward to working with the Muddy Waters Estate to build upon its enduring songwriting legacy.”

Estate representative Mercy Morganfield added: “On behalf of Muddy Waters’ family we take great comfort in knowing that this incredible catalog of music is going to be in the hands of Jon Platt and his team at Sony. My father’s legacy is a vital part of not only musical history but American history. Making sure future generations are aware of the way blues legends like Dad, Howling Wolf, BB King, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy and so many others have shaped other genres of music from Rock and Roll to Hip-Hop is so important. We don’t want these names to get lost in history and in the telling and retelling of their stories. I believe we have a partner in Sony who can help keep that flame alive and expand our reach, giving my father his rightful place in music history, a place we all believe he and so many others deserve. I am looking forward to the work ahead.”

+ Republic Records has promoted Donna Gryn to executive VP of global marketing strategy, as announced by Co-President Jim Roppo. She will continue to work out of the label’s New York headquarters.

After a decade at the label — handling marketing strategy for marquee pop acts including Ariana Grande, Jonas Brothers, John Legend and more — Gryn will oversee global business development and international marketing initiatives for the entire roster. Additionally, she is responsible for overseeing and growing a team of strategists in the department.

“Over the past decade, Donna has been crucial to not only breaking artists on an international scale, but also sustaining their success over the years,” said Roppo. “She is the rare marketing executive whose expansive vision is matched by her incredible work ethic and commitment to our collective mission as a team. As such, she’s the perfect leader for our global marketing initiatives, and it’s an honor to announce her much-deserved promotion.”

A veteran of Variety‘s Hitmakers Impact List (2021 and 2019), Gryn joined the Republic Records team in 2012 as senior director of marketing before becoming VP of marketing in 2016 and senior VP of marketing in 2018. Previously, she held executive positions at Polo Grounds Music, Virgin Records, and Star Trak Entertainment in addition to consulting for Epic Records.

+ Lily Golightly has joined Verve Label Group as senior VP of publicity, where she will oversee U.S. communications efforts for imprints including Verve Records, Impulse!, Verve Forecast, Decca Records US, Decca Classics, Deutsche Grammophon and ECM among others.

Based in New York, Golightly spent over seven years at 300 Entertainment, and until January 2020, she owned and operated her own independent publicity company No Big Deal PR. During her tenure at 300, she helped secure inclusion in Fast Company’s Brands That Matter and Best Companies for Innovators. She also oversaw all artist campaigns including Megan Thee Stallion, Gunna, Mary J Blige, Coheed and Cambria, Anna of the North, Cheat Codes, Highly Suspect, and more.

“Lily’s superb reputation as an exceptional storyteller and strategist goes before her,” said Dickon Strainer, president and CEO of Verve Label Group. “She has invaluable experience dealing with artists across the many phases of their careers and we welcome her as the perfect person to curate and elevate the identity of Verve Label Group at this stage in our evolution”

+ The College of Music and Media at Loyola University New Orleans has appointed Jonathan McHugh as its new Hilton-Baldridge Chair.

In his new role, McHugh will help to steer the university’s Music Industry Studies program, aimed at students who want to work in the music industry as executives, producers, recording engineers, performing artists and more. Known for his work on independent films and television as a producer, director and music supervisor, McHugh has held creative and marketing positions at many top entertainment companies including New Line Cinema/Warner Films, Zomba/ Sony Films and Music as well as Def Jam Film/Universal Music.

He joins Loyola after 7 years as an adjunct professor and student advisor at American University’s KOGOD Business School B.A.E program in Washington, DC. Elsewhere, McHugh is music supervising season two of the animated “Freak Brothers” series for Lionsgate/Fox/Tubi. The comedy features the voices of Tiffany Haddish, Pete Davidson and Woody Harrelson.

+ Kristy Gibson has been promoted to senior VP of film/TV and video games synchronization for Atlantic Records. In her newly expanded role, Gibson oversees the placement of music from the company’s frontline artists in film, television, trailers, promos, and video games.

Gibson, who has been with Atlantic since 2008, is based in Los Angeles and reports to Kevin Weaver, president of West Coast.

“Kristy joined us as an assistant 14 years ago, and as she’s risen up the ranks, she’s become a dynamic leader in creating exciting new opportunities for our artists and their music,” said Weaver in a statement. “Sync is one of the fastest-growing sectors of our business, and Kristy has been at the heart of our genre-spanning, media-crossing placements. I’m very happy to announce this richly deserved promotion for a true Atlantic star.”

Over the course of her career, Gibson has overseen several successful placements like Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” in the film and marketing for Netflix’s “Someone Great,” and Coldplay’s “Higher Power” in the CW Network’s image campaign. She has also worked on key syncs for artists such as alt-J, Ben Abraham, Kaleo, Laura Les of 100 Gecs, Pink Sweat$ and many others.

Tuesday, Oct. 12

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has promoted Jenna Park Adler to co-head of the agency’s global hip-hop/R&B touring group, alongside current head Mark Cheatham.

Adler personally reps artists across multiple genres as well as hip-hop and R&B, with a client roster that includes Jennifer Lopez, Doja Cat, Charli XCX, Green Day, Chloe x Halle, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Deftones, and Mark Ronson, among many others. She played a key role in Doja Cat’s rise, architected Green Day’s “Hella Mega” tour and helped Lopez develop her multi-dimensional businesses.

“Jenna’s an undeniable force in the business and an invaluable member of the CAA team, brilliantly delivering for artists across genres,” said CAA Co-Head of North American Music Darryl Eaton.  “Mark and Jenna bring an incredible level of energy, experience and strategic vision to our industry-leading Hip-Hop/R&B group.  Under their leadership, the future is very bright.”

CAA’s hip-hop/R&B team, including specialists in touring, brand partnerships, and cross-over opportunities, has 14 agents servicing a diverse roster of talent that includes The Weeknd, Doja Cat, A$AP Rocky, Saweetie, Miguel, Ludacris, Jorja Smith, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Logic, Kehlani, Tems, Nav, Q-Tip, Playboi Carti, Wu-Tang Clan, and many other leading artists.

“We’re able to support our artists in more ways than ever, thanks to the agency’s tremendous – and ever-growing – number of resources and relationships,” said Adler and Cheatham in a joint statement.  “Hip-hop and R&B continue to have huge influence on the music industry and broader culture, and we couldn’t be more excited to lead our super-talented team into the next evolution of the genre.”

Monday, Oct. 10

+ Singer, dancer and actress Chanel, who represented Spain in last year’s Eurovision Song Contest, has signed with Sony Music via the Columbia label in France. Managed by Eric Podwall of Podwall Entertainment, her agency is CAA and legal representation is with Ziffren Brittenham LLP.

Said José María Barbat, Sony Music’s president for Spain and Portugal: “Sony Music is really excited about the addition of Chanel to our roster of artists, a woman of great talent and enormous tenacity. Her perseverance has allowed her to achieve a dream, taking a modern and determined proposal to Eurovision and becoming a phenomenon like never before seen for many years. Chanel is one of the levers of internationalization of Spanish music. For this reason, her signing is in line with our commitment to promote Spanish talent so that it can shine in the world”

Chanel placed third in Eurovision. She’s slated to release a new album in 2023.

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