The Deals: WME Signs AI Pact to Shield Clients From IP Theft; Lil Boosie Label Moves to Santa Anna


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WME has partnered with generative artificial intelligence (AI) platform Vermillio. Using Vermillio’s Trace ID technology, the agency’s clients will now be able to protect themselves from IP theft while having the opportunity to monetize their images and likenesses by licensing their data. Trace ID allows users to track and authenticate the use of their IP, including their voices, in generative AI content to ensure fair credit and compensation and control how their work is used by others. Talent will additionally have the chance to interact with their fans in “new and immersive ways” using Vermillio, according to a press release.

WME clients will have a preferred rate and access to Trace ID, where their current and future data will be stored and protected on the blockchain with smart contracting. Vermillio will then match “synthetic content” with artists’ data to remove unapproved content and generate new and approved synthetic content to open up monetization opportunities. WME clients will also have access to a Vermillio dashboard that manages their data, licenses it and builds their own custom synthetic content engines.


“With 30,000 hours worth of content being uploaded to YouTube every hour, alongside the enormous rise of generative AI content being created and consumed, we look forward to partnering with Vermillio to protect and empower clients,” said Chris Jacquemin, partner/head of digital strategy at WME, in a statement. “Vermillio’s Trace ID will not only shield talent from the risks of AI, but also leverage its remarkable power to deliver world class experiences and create new revenue streams for our clients.”

Santa Anna Label Group, the Todd Moscowitz-led artist and label services company that recently launched under the Sony Music umbrella, has announced a partnership and distribution agreement with Trill Entertainment. Under the deal, Trill will have access to Santa Anna’s marketing, distribution and promotional support, among other services. Trill was launched in 2001 by Melvin “Mel” Vernell, Jr. and Marcus “Turk” Roach and currently boasts acts including Lil Boosie, Webbie and newly-signed artist Tre Savage on its roster.


Skybound Music, a new record label launched by multiplatform entertainment company Skybound Entertainment (The Walking Dead), has announced deals with FUGA and Downtown Music Publishing. FUGA will offer Skybound Music digital distribution and marketing services, with Downtown Music Publishing providing global administration for the label’s current and future catalog. Skybound Music will be led by Alex Kelman, Kevin Wolff and Taylor Wahl. Musical companions for all Skybound projects across video games, scripted audio, film, TV and more are slated for 2024 and beyond.

Nigerian singer-songwriter Joeboy has launched the record label Young Legend and partnered with Warner Music Group for distribution. The partnership will launch with a series of music camps to be held in Lagos, Nigeria; London; and L.A. in the coming weeks, with the goal of releasing new music on the label within the next several months. Joeboy (real name Joseph Akinfenwa-Donus) will act as CEO, working alongside Deola Jaiyesimi as head of label and Teniola Akanni as head of legal.


International talent and entertainment company NQ has partnered with Columbia Records UK and signed a global distribution deal with The Orchard. Under the deal, Columbia will have access to emerging northern talent through NQ’s network; chosen artists will then receive Columbia’s support in producing, recording and marketing their music while also enjoying the support of The Orchard’s full suite of services and global network. Already, British rapper Aitch has signed an exclusive recording partnership with NQ powered by The Orchard and is slated to release new music in early 2024.

Believe has acquired White Hill Music‘s Punjabi music catalog, including songs from Northern Indian artists including Maninder Buttar, Gurnam Bhullar, Ninja, Nimrat Khaira, R Nait, Shivjot, Akhil and Happy Raikoti. It has also acquired White Hill’s existing YouTube channel, which boasts 23.4 million subscribers and will be used to promote the back catalog of White Hill artists as well as new signees. Believe and White Hill had a pre-existing relationship; since 2017, Believe has supported the growth of White Hill’s roster across digital platforms while also signing multiple White Hill artists, including Raikoti and Buttar, to its premium offering, Believe Artist Services.


Music industry payout platform Trolley has been chosen by SoundCloud to provide payouts for its SoundCloud for Artists program. “As Trolley becomes the backbone of SoundCloud’s payouts infrastructure, it not only streamlines their financial workflows, but also empowers them to accomplish more for artists,” said Tim Nixon, CEO of Trolley, in a statement.

VAI Resort, a new hotel, resort and live entertainment destination that’s slated to open in the Phoenix metropolitan area later this year, has tapped C3 Presents and Live Nation to jointly book and promote shows at its $50 million VAI Amphitheater.

Big Machine Label Group and W!ZARD Radio Media have entered an agreement to develop and launch a slate of new podcasts. Under the partnership, the two companies will handle production, distribution, marketing, promotion and ad sales functions of the podcast slate. The partnership launches with the sports-comedy podcast A Game of No Halves hosted by British broadcasting legend “Whispering” Bob Harris and his son, Miles Myerscough-Harris. The partnership includes the re-launch of the podcast Songwriter Soup, hosted by songwriter Laura Veltz (“Speechless,” “I Could Use a Love Song”), financial advisor Tracy Hackney and producer Kevin Sokolnicki. – Jessica Nicholson


Pinnacle Financial Partners has teamed with Southwest Value Partners and AEG to become the exclusive naming rights partner for the 4,500-capacity music venue at the Nashville Yards mixed-use project. The music venue, located in downtown Nashville, will open in early 2025 and be known as The Pinnacle. The long-term agreement, brokered by AEG Global Partnerships, makes Pinnacle the official bank of the music venue and marks its first naming rights partnership. – Jessica Nicholson

Mogul, a new company dedicated to finding unidentified royalties for artists, has raised a $1.9 million funding round from investors Wonder Ventures, UTA, Amplify.La and former SoundCloud CEO Kerry Trainor‘s Creator Partners. The company currently offers a free tier allowing artists to connect their various inputs and income streams and charges a flat subscription fee for those who need help claiming lost royalties.


Sphere Entertainment Co. has announced a multi-faceted partnership with PepsiCo, through which the beverage company has been named an official partner of Sphere Entertainment’s Las Vegas venue, Sphere. Under the deal, PepsiCo products will be available at all Sphere events, while various PepsiCo food and beverage brands will be featured on the arena’s Exosphere. Sphere was represented by Crown Entertainment Properties in the deal.

Hangout FM, a social platform soon to be launched by Turntable Labs that’s designed to connect users through the discovery and curation of music, has partnered with Beatdapp, which specializes in audit and fraud detection software for music labels and streaming services. When it launches later this year, Hangout FM will use Beatdapp’s tools to detect and prevent streaming fraud on the platform. A press release notes that Hangout FM is in negotiations with all three major labels and Merlin as well as music publishers, performing rights organizations and others to build a Hangout FM music library.


AI-powered music and audio platform Music.AI has partnered with AI mastering and spatial audio mastering company Masterchannel and music tagging and search solutions company Cyanite, the latter of which automatically generates comprehensive creative metadata for every song or catalog using AI. Under the deal, both technologies will be available as modules on the Music.AI platform.

Yoto, the interactive audio platform for kids and creator of the Yoto Player and Yoto Mini, has partnered with “lullaby brand” Rockabye Baby to bring two Rockabye Baby collections to the Yoto platform: Lullaby Hip-Hop Collection and Lullaby Pop Collection. With the deal, users of the Yoto platform can now play Rockabye Baby’s lullaby versions of songs by OutKast, Snoop Dogg, Wu-Tang Clan, Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran.

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