Music Industry Moves: Former Splice, SB Projects Execs Launch Crypto and Web3 Investment Venture (EXCLUSIVE)

Brett Kernan, formerly of music tech company Splice, and Michael George, who was previously at Scooter Braun’s SB Projects (where he managed Martin Garrix), have teamed with Carlo Fox, Benjamin Willis and Joshua Andriano, co-founders of Indie-Pop and Independent Co., to self-fund and launch investment and advisory group Wave7. Each serves as a managing partner, collaborating to identify and help support companies innovating in crypto and web3.

The booming sector of web3 technologies surpassed $25 billion in 2021, the same year Wave7 began its operations when it committed a seven-figure sum to provide seed capital to more than 30 early stage companies. Among the projects with which Wave7 was involved were the native digital collectible studio WAGMI Beach, powered by the Solana blockchain, and the Catalina Whale Mixer.

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Among Wave7’s offerings is the collective experience of its founders — having worked across music, tech and culture — which includes identifying partnerships, negotiating rights, and other strategies that help bridge creative and tech.

“Through our unique professional backgrounds at the intersection of technology and creativity, we understand how to reach consumer audiences and tell stories that permeate culture,” said Kernan. “It’s been exciting to onboard our shared networks into this space. We’re grateful to the many founders who have recognized our value and invited us on their journey.”

Added George: “We believe Web3 is the future. A decentralized world puts ownership in the community’s hands; music and media need to start deciding what role they want to play in it.”

+ The full concert catalog and some of the film scores of legendary composer Franz Waxman have been acquired by G. Schirmer, a subsidiary of the Wise Music Group. The deal includes all his works that were composed for live performance, as well as concert versions of some of his best-known scores, including Waxman’s back-to-back 1950-51 Oscar winners, “Sunset Boulevard” and “A Place in The Sun.” His other works include classic scores for films like “The Philadelphia Story” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” and “Suspicion.”

Schirmer Theatrical, Wise Music Group’s concert production company, produces film-with-live-orchestra concerts, and the company indicated an interest in exposing Waxman’s scores further through those kinds of uses as one reason for picking up a significant part of the Waxman catalog.

“I’ve entrusted my father’s legacy to G. Schirmer/Wise Music Group because I know they will protect and value his work,” said his son, John Waxman. “I’m grateful that generations to come will now have the opportunity to experience the breadth of Franz Waxman’s music around the world.”

Beyond his library of film scores, some of the works that Waxman wrote for the concert stage include the oratorio “Joshua,” “Carmen Fantasie” and “The Song of Terezin,” from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s.

+ Warner Music Latina has unveiled a new leadership, with Roberto Andrade Dirak joining the company as managing director and expanded roles for Hector Rivera, who becomes senior VP/ head of A&R for Latin music and Ruben Abraham, now senior VP of marketing and artist strategy. According to the announcement, one objective of the strategy is to further improve the synergies between Warner’s Latin American and U.S. Latin operations.

Dirak has managed Colombian singer Sebastian Yatra for much of the artist’s career, and previously worked as Carlos Vives manager and tour manager. He also founded the management company NIU Entertainment. Abraham has been at Warner Music Group for more than 17 years, initially starting as a label manager in Mexico City and rising to commercial director for Warner Mexico. He moved to Miami on 2019 to become VP of Marketing at Warner Music Latina. Rivera has worked at Warner Music Latina since 2017, taking up his previous role of VP of A&R two years later. He started out in the industry as a studio engineer at Audio Vision Studios in Miami.

Alejandro Duque, president of Warner Music Latin America, said, “I’m delighted that Roberto has joined us at Warner Music and that Hector and Ruben have stepped up into these expanded roles. With Roberto on board we can accelerate our vision to be a truly artist-first label with a globalized approach to artist development. This will help us empower the careers of our artists and develop more Latin superstars who can take their rightful place on the global stage.”

+ Sony Music’s $255 million acquisition of powerhouse Brazilian label Som Livre, announced last April, has been confirmed by the country’s government regulator, the Tribunal of the Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica.

In a statement, Sony Music said: “We welcome today’s conclusion of the approval process from CADE of Sony Music Entertainment’s acquisition of Som Livre. Som Livre’s roster of artists and songwriters, as well as employees, will now benefit from Sony Music’s global network of resources and partnerships, offering greater worldwide reach for Brazil’s creative community.”

+ Republic Records has named Alyssa LoPresti VP of marketing strategy, SVP Alex Coslov announced on Wednesday. Based in the company’s New York headquarters, acts under her purview include James Bay, Bastille, Of Monsters and Men, BoyWithUke and others.

Previously, LoPresti spent a decade at Columbia Records, rising from marketing assistant to director, working closely with AC/DC, BTS, the Chainsmokers, Hozier, and others.

Coslov said, “Alyssa is a forward thinking marketer with a very robust, diverse and impressive campaign portfolio. She will be an integral part of Republic’s Marketing Strategy team moving forward and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have her join the Republic family.”

+ Artist management company YM&U has promoted Anthony Rodol to managing director of U.S. Music. Based in Los Angeles, he will report directly to Matt Colon, president of the company’s music division. He previously held marketing roles at Universal and Warner Music before moving over to Complete Control Management

Rodol joined YM&U in 2017, when Deckstar Management was acquired by U.K.-based management firm James Grant Group. During his time at the company, Rodol has worked on teams representing Common, Steve Aoki, Vicetone, and others. The company’s current roster also includes Blink-182, Travis Barker, Pentatonix, Liz Phair, 3LAU, Take That, and James Arthur.

Tuesday, Feb. 22

Universal Music Group has announced the launch of Def Jam India, a new label division within India and South Asia dedicated to representing the best hip-hop and rap talent from the region. According to the announcement, Def Jam India “will follow the blueprint of the Def Jam Recordings label.” The first flagship artist signings to join Def Jam India are rappers Dino James and Fotty Seven, who will release singles this month titled “Lost” and “Banjo,” respectively. The news follows the 2020 launch of Def Jam labels in Africa and Vietnam.

Since its founding by Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons in 1984, Def Jam has been one of the most important and influential labels of the past decades, with classic releases over the years from LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Method Man, Ghostface, DMX, Ludacris, the Roots, Young Jeezy, Frank Ocean, Logic and, via a deal with Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella and Roc Nation labels, Jay, Kanye West, Rihanna and others.

Speaking on launch, Devraj Sanyal, Managing Director and CEO, Universal Music India & South Asia said, “The launch of Def Jam India could not come at a better time for music in India. Our domestic hip-hop and rap artists are rapidly growing into some of the most exciting talents in the region, taking their rightful space alongside mainstream national & regional pop, and what better home for those artists than Def Jam, the pioneering global home of hip-hop. Def Jam India will be infused and inspired by local street and rap culture, Indian sounds and unique multi-lingual flows, which will enable us to introduce new artists across the country and region, and beyond.”

Tunji Balogun, Chairman & CEO, Def Jam Recordings said, “We’re excited to welcome Def Jam India to the worldwide Def Jam family, following our recent launches in the U.K., Europe, Africa and Asia. Hip-hop reflects the pulse of global youth culture and chronicles new stories and voices in real time. Def Jam India will provide audiences worldwide the opportunity to discover and experience Indian hip-hop culture at its finest and introduce the next generation of cutting-edge artists emerging from the region.”

+ Primary Wave Music has entered into an agreement to market and administer the catalog of legendary American composer Henry Mancini. As part of the agreement, Primary Wave will now represent the late composer’s music publishing catalog as well as his name and likeness.

Considered to be one of the greatest composers in the history of film, Mancini won four Academy Awards (including two for the songs “Moon River” and “Days of Wine and Roses”), a Golden Globe, and an incredible twenty Grammy Awards over his unparalleled five decades long career.

Included in this agreement is music that encompasses some of Mancini’s most popular compositions, such as the Oscar-nominated songs “Charade” and “Dear Heart” and such themes as “The Music from Peter Gunn” — which in 1959 was the first album to win the Grammy for Album of the Year — and the indelible “Pink Panther Theme.”

+ The Academy of Country Music has made new hires across several departments. Lori Kraft has joined the staff as director of brand creative & design; Steve Mekler has joined as director of brand marketing & partnerships; Jennifer Davis has joined as manager of events; Rebecca Fisher has joined as manager of strategic partnerships; Jesse Knutson has joined as manager of publicity & media relations; and Kristan Pridgen has joined as executive assistant to CEO Damon Whiteside.

“With the ACM Awards just weeks away, there couldn’t be a better time to continue expanding our team with the additions of Lori, Steve, Jennifer, Becca, Jesse, and Kristan,” said Whiteside. “Every new member of our team is already making an impact and bringing a unique set of skills to the Academy. Their passion and enthusiasm will no doubt help the Academy reach new levels of success for our members and the country music community as a whole.”

+ Universal Music Group has named Richard Cusick chief product officer, global e-commerce. According to the announcement, in the newly created role, Cusick will build a product team charged with translating UMG’s business objectives into innovative products and experiences across E-Commerce, Web3.0 and direct artist and fan-focused initiatives. He will serve as a key liaison and partner between UMG’s executive management team and the engineering organization. Cusick will be based in Santa Monica and report to Richelle Parham, president of global e-commerce and business development.

Cusick’s experience in the music industry started at Gemstar-TV Guide (now Xperi), where he led business development and digital media. Cusick subsequently managed the entertainment and lifestyle properties at Yahoo!, including Yahoo! Music. Cusick led the acquisition of six companies that became Gracenote, a leading data provider to the entertainment industry. Until recently, he was an advisor to Audible Magic, a content-ID solution for social platforms such as SoundCloud, DailyMotion and Facebook.

Parham said, “To help our artists maximize their creative and commercial potential, UMG continues to expand our mission well beyond the typical boundaries of a traditional music business, particularly in the products, services and experiences that we’re able to provide. With Richard joining us in the newly created role of Chief Product Officer, we will accelerate our efforts to bring fans even closer to their favorite artists and music through expanded products and ‘always on’ experiences.”

+ Sony Music Publishing today announced the promotion of Alison Hook to senior vice president, sampling and copyright infringement, U.K. & international.

In her new role, Alison will oversee the company’s sampling and copyright infringement matters and further strengthen relationships with societies in the U.K. and internationally. In addition, Hook will continue modernizing the sampling process to ensure efficient royalty and credit processing. She is based in the company’s U.K. office and reports to co-managing directors David Ventura and Tim Major.

“Alison’s elevation within the company is pivotal in our relentless efforts to improve our service to songwriters. We all have seen the explosion of sampling activity in the last years, which has become key in how music is made by new music creators,” Ventura and Major said. “This new role is tailor made for Alison, who has never stopped protecting songwriters’ interests for the last two decades. Her experience, professionalism and fairness make her a one-of-a-kind senior executive and we are lucky to work with her.”

+ Indian pop singer Armaan Malik has partnered with Warner Music India to launch a new label, Always Music Global. The label will release, market and position Hindi pop music across the world.

As part of the partnership, Always Music Global will release Malik’s Hindi non-film music, while working with him on building IPs, backed by the infrastructure and extensive distribution network of Warner Music India. The deal is also an extension of WM India’s intention to expand its outstanding artist roster by identifying talent that can enable them to strengthen their position and reach.

Malik said, “I’m humbled and honored to embark on a new chapter of my career with this unique collaboration between my label Always Music Global and Warner Music India. Showcasing Indian pop music at a global level has been a long-running dream of mine, and I can’t wait to work towards fulfilling it. ”

Alfonso Perez-Soto, Warner Recorded Music’s president of emerging markets, added, “This is a landmark signing for Warner Music India. Armaan comes from a family of musicians and his music education ranges from Hindustani classical music to Berklee College of Music. He is a truly creative artist, who has enjoyed incredible success as a singer and actor. His songs already touch fans around the world and we’re excited to help build an even larger global audience for his incredible music.”

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