Music Industry Moves: Davido Launches Record Label in Partnership With UnitedMasters

Nigerian global artist Davido has inked a deal with UnitedMasters to launch his new label Nine+ Records. Davido will spearhead artist development and A&R for a lineup of Nigerian artists.

Steve Stoute, founder and CEO of UnitedMasters, said, “Over the last 2 years, we’ve proven our commitment to Africa investing in artists, education, and technology. Today, we are doubling down. With this new venture with Davido & the launch of Nine Plus Records, we reinforce our mission in becoming a bridge for artists on the continent. Together we’ll identify & develop new artists while supporting them with brand and synch opportunities.”

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Davido added, “I couldn’t be more proud to partner with Steve and the team at United Masters, this announcement represents an exciting new chapter for developing and established artists around the world.”

Nine+ Records will be announcing more artists and partners in the future.

+ Latin pop group Darumas has signed a new deal with Sony Music Latin and debuted a new single called “Daruma.”

Composed of musicians Aldana Aguirre, Ceci Leon and Vedala Vilmond, Darumas blends Latin funk and pop. Aguirre is a sought-after bassist from Argentina, who has shared the global stage with acts like Karol G, Luis Fonsi and Fonseca; Leon is a vocalist from Miami with Cuban roots and a penchant for R&B, also captivates audiences with her guitar skills; and Vilmond is the main vocalist of the group.

“Darumas is a breath of fresh air for the music industry,” said Alex Gallardo, president of Sony Music Latin. Three women, musicians, with an enormous talent that bring an artistic proposal very different from everything else out there. The greatest artists are characterized by being unique and different from the rest. Aldana, Vedala and Ceci can proudly boast just that, a sound and style of their own and with an electrifying live performance, they leave no one indifferent. Their debut is good news for any music lover.”

+ Adam Fell has launched a Los Angeles-based artist management and production company Early Hour Entertainment with a roster including six-time Grammy winner Jacob Collier, Grammy-nominated producer Yeti Beats and rapper/producer Erick the Architect, founding member of the Flatbush Zombies.

Fell most recently held the title of president of Quincy Jones Productions where he ran multiple divisions including artist management; endorsements and licensing; production (film/tv/music); the management of the joint ventures; and the investments. Fell also worked as an executive producer of “The Color Purple” (2023), produced by Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, and Steven Spielberg.

“We are very grateful to Quincy Jones for the decades of mentorship and guidance,” said Fell. “I am fortunate to have the two best partners on planet earth and a team that can truly accomplish anything. We are so honored by the trust that the artists have put in us and we know that this is only the beginning for Early Hour.”

+ SiriusXM has launched The Clive Davis Channel, a new limited-run channel honoring the producer and music executive.

SiriusXM listeners will have special access to an audio memoir of Davis’ celebrated career, hosted and curated by Davis. The music mogul will share the story about “how he first heard Whitney Houston, envisioned greatness for Bruce Springsteen, found Janis Joplin’s voice to be life changing, and so much more,” per an announcement. The channel will be available until May 2.

“I can’t wait for the SiriusXM Clive Davis Channel. It will truly be a unique emotional experience to relive all the musical highlights of my career. I am honestly pinching myself that this will be happening,” said Davis.

+ The Country Music Association has announced the promotion of Michelle Kirk to senior director of integrated marketing, and Mary Overend to senior director of marketing.

“Michelle and Mary are valuable leaders and integral members of our team at CMA,” said Kelly Striewski, senior VP marketing, content and communications strategy. “Beyond a broad knowledge base of marketing, their expertise across the broadcast and digital landscapes specifically, allows CMA to continually expand our fan engagement and brand footprint, further develop our partnership opportunities and ultimately grow all categories of our audience; all of which feeds into our mission of driving awareness and consumption for the Country Music genre. I look forward to seeing them shine in their new roles!”

Kirk previously held the position of Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships at CMA before transitioning her career to become a Brand Partnerships Agent at WME. An Illinois native, she graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in management. Reach Kirk at

Overend has been promoted to Senior Director, Marketing, previously holding the title of Director,

+ Merlin has launched a new partnership with Audiomack to help Merlin’s membership gain access to Audiomack’s audience of listeners. The agreement includes Audiomod, Audiomack’s new tool that allows fans to customize their listening experience in unique ways by selecting pre-set filters such as sped up, slowed down, nightcore, and daycore, or by creating their own custom listening filters.

“Through Audiomack’s partnership with Merlin, we’re not just amplifying independent music—we’re revolutionizing how artists connect with their fans and how fans listen to their music,” said Dave Macli, CEO, Audiomack. “Merlin members can now claim their artists’ Audiomack accounts to send messages to their fans, and, using Audiomod, those fans can listen to their favorite artist’s music in a brand new way.”

Jeremy Sirota, CEO of Merlin, commented on the partnership: “We are excited to embark on this journey with Audiomack, a platform that shares our passion for amplifying the voices of independent artists. This partnership is a testament to our ongoing mission to open new doors for our members, offer unparalleled opportunities to recording rights holders, and further enrich the global music ecosystem.”

+ Seeker Music, a music rights, publishing, and record company, has acquired the publishing catalog of multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated producer and songwriter Marcos “Kosine” Palacios, which includes smash hits “Anaconda” (Nicki Minaj), “Birthday Cake” (Rihanna) and “Dance (A$$)” (Big Sean), the soundtracks for hit FOX series “Empire and Star,” and other notable records from the likes of Justin Bieber, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, and all of Kosine’s work as one half of the LA-based production duo Da Internz.

Seeker has also tapped Kosine as their first ever Samplémoose Ambassador, to aid in creative collaborations focused on transforming Seeker’s catalog of copyrights into reimagined new records.

As part of this producer-publisher creative partnership, Kosine will have the ability to create original music utilizing Seeker’s catalog, and together with Seeker’s creative team, identify and co-sign new producer talent, curate catalog flipping songwriting camps at Seeker’s new recording studios and host an educational workshops.

Evan Bogart, CEO of Seeker, added “When we started acquiring catalogs at Seeker, I only was interested in songs I wish I wrote, or projects I wish I had worked on, and that’s hands-down, undeniably Kosine’s body of work. Me and Kos go way back and have been collaborating on music for almost 15 years. Now, we get to write our next chapter together, working closely on Samplémoose, and investing in each other, in ways a publishing company and producer haven’t before. It’s a major honor to have this opportunity to build with him.”

+ Downtown Neighbouring Rights (DNR) has announced numerous new signings and cross-company partnerships across the division, including international deals with singer-songwriter, Anohni, Position Music and TH3RD BRAIN Records.

As part of the international neighboring rights agreement announced today, DNR will represent Anohni’s entire catalog. Anohni has been a Downtown Music Publishing client since 2022, the news of her partnership with Downtown Neighbouring Rights comes shortly after the announcement of her first European tour with the Johnsons since 2010.

Downtown Neighbouring Rights has also entered into an international agreement with publisher and label, Position Music, home to Welshly Arms, 2WEI, Ryan Oakes and more. U.S.-based independent label, TH3RD BRAIN Records – home to artists like Emmit Fenn and Brazilian producer, Zerb — is a client of both Downtown-owned, distributor FUGA and royalty accounting platform Curve. DNR has also signed an international rights agreement with the company across its prolific catalog affirming Downtown’s strategy to add value to clients across its wide spectrum of services

+ RCA Records has announced the signing of former”America’s Got Talent” contestant Debbii Dawson. Along with the news of the signing, Dawson has also unveiled her first single with the label, “Happy World.”

The first tease of new music from her forthcoming EP, “Happy World” is ‘70s rock and disco-inspired. It was crafted with collaborators and co-writers Alida Peck (Katy Perry, Kylie Minogue, Dua Lipa) and Zhone (Troye Sivan, Jason Derulo, Inji).

Dawson also recently announced her exclusive co-publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music and Katy Perry’s Unsub Publishing, with Wasserman onboard globally as her booking agency.

This year, she will join Orville Peck to support select dates of his “Stampede North American Tour,” as well as headlining dates across Europe and select festival appearances, including The Great Escape in the UK and Hinterland Music Festival in the U.S.

Wednesday, April 17

Virgin Music Group has announced the promotion of Cindy James to the position of general manager of the company’s North American operations.

James most recently served as senior vice president and head of commercial marketing for Virgin Music. She joined the company as head of commercial marketing for US-based Caroline in 2019 before Caroline transitioned into Virgin Music Label and Artist Services in 2021.

“I have worked with Cindy for the past five years and am incredibly proud to elevate her to the well-deserved position of General Manager for Virgin Music Group North America,” said Jacqueline Saturn, president of Virgin Music Group North America and executive vice president of global artist relations. “Cindy has been instrumental in providing leadership and insights across the ever-evolving landscape of our business. Having worked in offices in Australia, London, NY, and LA, she has amassed incredible global knowledge, commercial expertise, and invaluable relationships that will help take our artist and label partners to the next level.”

Prior to Virgin, James has held senior roles within streaming, marketing, digital and partner development at Island Records and Sony Music Entertainment, and most notably pioneered Sony’s streaming strategies from offices in Sydney, London, and New York. James began her career learning the business through various positions as a promoter, tour manager, freelance music journalist, and record store manager. She is based in Virgin Music Group’s global headquarters in Los Angeles.

+ Warner Chappell Music (WCM) has signed a global publishing deal with country-rock band, the Red Clay Strays – comprised of lead singer Brandon Coleman, electric guitarist Zach Rishel, guitarist/vocalist Drew Nix, bassist Andrew Bishop, and drummer John Hall – as well as the band’s main songwriting partner and videographer, Matthew Coleman.

After independently releasing “Moment of Truth” in 2022, the album’s breakout song “Wondering Why” gained huge popularity on TikTok and all streaming services, landing the band their first Billboard Hot 100 hit. Most recently, they announced their first major label deal with RCA Records.

WCM President of North America, Ryan Press, added, “Every once in a while a band comes along that knocks you off your feet. The Red Clay Strays is one of the most exciting live bands right now, and their songs are both fresh and timeless. I’m beyond excited to watch their takeover and grateful they’ve chosen us as their publishing partner.”

+ Grammy Go, a new online initiative from the Recording Academy, has partnered with Coursera, a leading online learning platform, to offer classes tailored for music creators and industry professionals.

Participating artists include Janelle Monáe and Victoria Monét for the Grammy Go’s first Coursera specialization, “Building Your Audience for Music Professionals,” taught by Joey Harris, international music/marketing executive and CEO of Joey Harris Inc. The partnership’s second course, launching later this summer, aims to strengthen the technological and audio skills of a music producer. “Music Production: Crafting An Award-Worthy Song” will be taught by Carolyn Malachi, Howard University professor and Grammy nominee, and will include appearances by producers Cirkut and Hit-Boy, artist and celebrity vocal coach Stevie Mackey, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr., and Judith Sherman.

Tuesday, April 16

Music’s leading charity MusiCares has announced its second annual volunteer day, “The Day That Music Cares,” will take place on April 26. The initiative encourages music professionals and fans worldwide to a day of volunteering, “demonstrating the power and heart of the music community,” per a press release.

Songwriters and sound engineers, touring crews and record label employees will join forces with music fans to support causes close to their hearts. Participants can engage in various acts of service such as volunteering at local food banks, organizing community blood drives, and beach clean-ups.

“The Day That Music Cares unites the music community’s culture of connection and the transformative power of giving back. Volunteering strengthens bonds within communities and reinforces mental health. Together in this shared mission, we’re harnessing the power of music to make a difference,” said Laura Segura, executive director of MusiCares.

The 2023 effort saw over 1,400 members of the music community take action with MusiCares, according to the organization. Among this year’s partners are Starbucks, whose financial contributions amplify “The Day That Music Cares'” message, and iHeartMedia, leveraging in-kind promotion to spread awareness across their platforms.

“Following the success of The Day That Music Cares’ inaugural year, I am thrilled to see this initiative go to our wider music community to create positive change in the world,” said Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy and MusiCares. “There is always work to be done and it’s great to see how we can come together and even make new connections all while making an impact in our communities.”

+ Verve Label Group (VLG) has promoted Joseph Oerke to executive vice president of Decca Records U.S., effective immediately.

Oerke, who’s been with the company for nearly 16 years, will lead the marketing and artist strategy for the classical label in the United States. Decca Records US is also the American partner for European sister labels Decca Records, Decca Classics, Deutsche Grammophon, Hyperion, Mercury KX, and distributed label, ECM, with artists that include Lang Lang, Hilary Hahn, Yuja Wang, Andrea Bocelli, Yannick Nézet- Séguin, Keith Jarrett, Renée Fleming, and Sheku Kanneh-Mason.

Dickon Stainer, President and CEO of Verve Label Group and Global Classics and Jazz, said: “Joseph is propelling Decca US into a new era as the leading classical record company in America. With his boundless experience and formidable team-building skills Joseph is perfectly positioned to serve the finest classical artists of the world, and their passionate US audiences.”

+ Entertainment marketing agency The Syndicate is expanding its PR division with Allie Gruensfelder joining as director of publicity. Gruensfelder will report to The Syndicate’s senior VP of business development, Jeff Kilgour.

On Allie joining the team Kilgour shares, “Allie is an exceptional talent and her experience, creativity, and passion will be invaluable to the company. She always brings innovative ideas to her campaigns and we’re thrilled to have her fresh perspective strengthen the team.”

Gruensfelder adds, “I’m thrilled to join the innovative, smart, and creative team at The Syndicate. With a growing roster of talent across a diverse range of entertainment verticals, this role provides an incredible opportunity for meaningful storytelling and elevated awareness for both the clients and The Syndicate’s capabilities.”

Gruensfelder was formerly VP of trendsetter media and marketing. During her fifteen-year tenure, Gruensfelder led publicity campaigns for Hoobastank, Mae, the Maine, lovelytheband and Concrete Castles, among others.

+ Beyond Music, an Asia-based investment and management company focusing on music rights aggregation, has acquired the music catalog of Puerto Rican singer and songwriter Yandel (Llandel Veguilla Malavé) including his publishing interests and royalties, his share of performance royalties and neighboring rights royalties. This is Beyond Music’s first acquisition in the Latin market.

Beyond Music CEO Jangwon Lee commented, “We are deeply humbled by Yandel’s extraordinary artistry and unparalleled career and honored to partner with him as he progresses to the next height of his career. As a leading custodian of some of the most iconic non-Anglo musical works, we seek to support a truly burgeoning creativity across Latin and Asian musical ecosystems. We see similar traits of magnificent growth in both Latin Pop and Asian Pop (K-Pop included), and hope to share and connect the best from both worlds.”

+ Monument Records has promoted Casey Thomas to VP of marketing and commercial partnerships and Ansley Neeley to manager, marketing and creative. In their roles, Thomas will continue to oversee marketing, publicity, creative, digital and streaming, while Neeley will step into project management.

Thomas joined Monument from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum where she worked first as a PR manager in 2018, and then as director of marketing, publicity and creative. Neeley joined Monument Records in 2021 as the label’s promotion coordinator, later adding in marketing coordinator responsibilities ranging from facilitating the delivery and strategic setup of all the label’s releases to planning various artist events and executing traditional and digital marketing campaigns.

Monument’s artist roster includes Alex Hall, Brandon Ratcliff, Shelby Lynne, Tigirlily Gold and Walker Hayes, to name a few.

+ Afro-dancehall artist Stonebwoy has inked a global distribution and label services deal with ADA Worldwide, the independent label and artist services arm of Warner Music Group.

The partnership with ADA, in partnership with Stonebwoy’s own Burniton Music Group, also covers Stonebwoy’s upcoming sixth studio album, slated for release later this year.

“This deal marks another stride forward in bringing my music to the global stage via ADA’s network,” Stonebwoy said. “My aim has always been to unite people through the fusion of African music (Afrobeats), Reggae, Dancehall, RnB, and Hip Hop. They say creativity flourishes in freedom, so owning my creativity is essential for me to make a meaningful contribution to the global music landscape.”

“Stonebwoy is in a league of his own. His genre-blending style has resonated with millions of fans around the globe and he’s helped shine a light on the rich and vibrant sounds coming out of Africa,” said Cat Kreidich, president of ADA Worldwide. “He’s spreading positivity, love and unity with music that makes you move and makes you feel. We can’t wait to support his unique creative vision even further across the international stage.”

+ UTA has signed model and musician Shaun Ross for worldwide touring. The deal is said to help expand Ross’ global footprint.

Ross’s foray into house music delves into the late ‘80s and early ‘90s-inspired sounds. Recently, Ross collaborated on the single “Learn Something New” with Mark Francis. Ross is also a fashion industry veteran, having worked over 15 years as a top model collaborating with Alexander McQueen, Fendi and more.

“It’s rare to find someone as talented as Shaun who is truly a multidisciplinary artist,” says Ross’s point agent Eli Hanavan. “I’m looking forward to being a part of the growth of what has been a very versatile career.”

Ross will continue to be represented by manager Kyle Kernohan.

+ Latin music veteran Gustavo Lopez has launched a full-service, independent, multi-media, music entertainment company called Globalatino Music Partners. The new brand encompasses label services, artist management, publishing, branding, distribution, acquisitions, touring, content creation and strategic marketing.

In announcing its launch, Lopez has also shared the company’s acquisition of a majority stake in Cigol Music, the label home to Colombian breakout superstar Blessd. Carlos Nunez, formerly of Talento Uno, will serve as Partner and executive VP of Cigol.

Warner Music Latina will handle Globalatino’s distribution and marketing services for selected artists. The deal, which launches with Blessd and hit-making duo DeMasters, will include more in the pipeline to be announced shortly.

ReLo-Co Music, a new record label, has also been purchased by Globalatino in association with Alejandro Reglero. Reglero, formerly of Sony Music Latin and Saban Music Latin, will serve as Partner and CEO of ReLo-Co.

GUAU Talent Connect, a division of Globalatino, specializes in brand partnerships and is dedicated to connecting rising artists to top brands. Augusto Mendoza, formerly with Sony Music Latin will lead this division. Plus, Strat-Viz, also a division of Globalatino, will oversee all strategic marketing and content creation. The latter will be led by Rodolfo Rodriguez, formerly of Saban Music Latin. TuStreams, Latin music’s preeminent independent content and distribution company, will also handle distribution and monetization.

+ Resident Advisor magazine has appointed Gabriel Szatan as editor and Rachel Grace Almeida as deputy editor.

Szatan will lead the global editorial team working in RA’s New York and London offices, with Rachel Grace Almeida joining in London to assume the deputy position.

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