The Deals: Deezer & Merlin Strike Artist-Centric Royalties Partnership; WMG Expands India Presence

Merlin and Deezer announced a new partnership through which Deezer’s artist-centric royalty model will be integrated across Merlin’s membership of independent record labels, distributors and other rights holders. The model, which is currently being rolled out in France, is designed to reward artists and tracks that are viewed as playing a part in attracting and retaining subscribers to the platform while excluding white noise and other types of “functional” audio from the royalty pool.

“We have worked with Deezer to ensure their new model works for the benefit of our members, representing a path forward in ensuring that high-quality music, and the artists who create it, are recognized and rewarded in the manner they deserve,” said Merlin CEO Jeremy Sirota in a statement.


Added Deezer CEO Jeronimo Foglueira: I’m very happy to see that Merlin and its members are embracing Deezer’s artist centric model and joins us in redefining artist remuneration in the streaming era, to make sure artists are paid more fairly for their music.”

Warner Music India made a strategic investment in Global Music Junction (GMJ), the music and entertainment subsidiary of digital entertainment and technology company JetSynthesys. The move gives Warner Music India a seat on the board of GMJ and expands its partnership with the company, with which it previously struck a distribution deal in 2021. GMJ — which provides services including content creation, events management, innovative distribution, marketing solutions, technical analytics, and legal expertise — is a leader in the music markets for the Bhojpuri, Kannada, Gujarati, Haryanvi and Oriya languages. “This is a significant milestone in the expansion of our presence across India,” Alfonso Perez Soto, president of emerging markets at Warner Music, said in a statement. “Working with the amazing team at GMJ last year not only strengthened our partnership, but enabled us to better support artists from the central regions of India, bringing them the best artistic support that any company can provide, and helping them connect with fans across the country and around the world.”


AEG Presents and LIV Golf announced an exclusive multi-year partnership that will see AEG and its subsidiary, Concerts West, booking musical acts and producing concerts for LIV Golf events globally. Since launching the LIV Golf Invitational Series in 2022, followed by the official kickoff of the LIV Golf League last year, artists including Zac Brown Band, Tiësto, Nelly, Sebastián Yatra and Alesso have performed at LIV Golf events. Starting this spring, AEG Presents and its Concerts West subsidiary will book musical acts and produce concerts for LIV Golf tournaments worldwide, handling talent booking, artist management, show/venue planning, creative development and technical production.

The City of McKinney, Tex., which is a major hub in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, chose Notes Live to build what will be the company’s largest venue yet: the 20,000-capacity, $220 million open-air Sunset Amphitheater. The effort to bring the venue to McKinney was a joint effort between the city, the McKinney Economic Development Corporation and the McKinney Community Development Corporation. Construction on the Sunset is slated to begin late this year, with the aim of opening it in time for the concert touring season in 2026. The project is expected to support more than 1,300 direct and indirect jobs and create $3 billion in regional and local economic activity in its first 10 years of operation.


Audio entertainment platform Pocket FM raised $103 million in Series D funding led by Lightspeed with participation from Stepstone Group. The latest round brings Pocket FM’s total funding to date to $196.5 million. The money will support the company’s push into the U.S. market while also supporting its expansion into Europe as well as Latin American markets in 2024. Pocket FM will also continue to strengthen its exclusive content library and build AI-powered personalized recommendations to enhance the user experience. The company claims to have surpassed $150 million in annual recurring revenue and says the platform racked up more than 75 billion minutes of streaming worldwide last year.

Warner Music South East Europe acquired a minority stake in Slovenian independent label NIKA. The label boasts a repertoire of more than 11,000 songs, including tracks from Big Foot Mama, Koala Voice, Luka Basi, Nipke and Siddharta. The label’s releases are currently distributed through Warner’s indie distribution and label services arm ADA. The deal will allow Warner Music to upstream NIKA’s roster to its international network. NIKA has been Warner Music’s licensee in Slovenia since 1995.


Melissa Etheridge partnered with Gritty In Pink, which powers the INPINK marketplace — a platform, described as being similar to Upwork, where female freelancers in music can find jobs. Through the partnership, female videographers can submit an INPINK listing to showcase their work to be considered for a job capturing and editing content at Etheridge’s upcoming shows in Santa Clarita, Calif., and Thousand Oaks, Calif. Those interested can submit their listings between Mar. 20 and Mar. 28. Etheridge will also serve as a “strategic advisor” for the INPINK marketplace. Prior to the partnership, the singer-songwriter hired an INPINK videographer to shoot her tour last year and ran a photography campaign with INPINK to find a female photographer to take press photos.

ASM Global signed a strategic partnership with King Abdullah Financial District Development and Management Company (KAFD DMC) to lead the operation and management of the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) Conference Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The conference center includes a 1,215 square-meter banquet hall, a 600-seat auditorium and multiple outdoor plazas.


NightEvolution — which owns Ibiza dance music clubs Amnesia and Cova Santa and Amnesia’s in-house night Pyramid — joined forces with Dubai developer Sekoya Management, which owns Dubai venue Soho Garden and its electronic music sub-brands/venues Code, Playroom and Hive. Under the agreement, NightEvolution and Sekoya will present a new events series called Horizon in Ibiza, Dubai and elsewhere.

AI-powered beat and track generator SOUNDRAW drew $3 million in new funding led by Carbide Ventures, along with other investors including mint VC, Ceres, iSGS, SMBC Venture Capital, Deepcore, Kazuomi Kaneto and Paul Rosenberg, CEO of Goliath Artists and president of Shady Records.

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