Music Industry Moves: Sony to Acquire Som Livre for $250 Million; Andrew Gould Joins Roc Nation Publishing

Jem Aswad and Chris Willman
·11-min read

Sony Music Entertainment (SME) is set to acquire Brazilian indie Som Livre, home to such artists as Marilia Mendonça, Jorge & Mateus, Wesley Safadão, Lexa, Israel & Rodolffo, Dudu MC, Filipe Ret and Grupo Menos é Mais, among others. The company, under CEO Marcelo Soares, will operate as a stand-alone within Sony Music and continue to sign, develop and market its own roster. In absorbing Som Livre, SME looks to continue the type of long-term, fruitful relationship that it has enjoyed with independent music distribution company The Orchard, which has been fully under the Sony umbrella since 2015. The purchase will also strengthen Sony’s base in Brazil and across Latin music overall. The price is $255 million, according to an SEC filing, as noted by Music Business Worldwide.

“We are delighted to be investing in Som Livre and expanding our existing relationship with this special company,” said Rob Stringer, chairman of Sony Music Group, in announcing the deal (which awaits regulatory and closing conditions Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica, or CADE). “Brazil is one of the most dynamic and competitive growing music markets in the world and we will provide huge opportunities for creators through our shared vision.”

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Added Soares: “Som Livre has had a great 50-year run as a Globo company. Globo’s support was key to the growth of Som Livre, especially during the last decade when we built the business to what it is today. When facing the future now and seeing all the opportunities ahead, it is very exciting to know that we’ll have Sony Music with us. We are once again in the right place to allow the best possibilities of career development for our artists and employees. I’m very grateful for all that we accomplished with Globo, and look forward to beginning this new era with Sony Music.”

+ Roc Nation has named Andrew Gould executive VP of publishing. Gould, a classical trained pianist and Wharton MBA, will be based out of Roc Nation’s LA office, reporting directly into CEO Desiree Perez and working closely with vice chairman Jay Brown. He was previously with Downtown Music Publishing and BMG, and worked extensively with Andra Day and Lewis Capaldi. According to the announcement, he will the music publishing department, overseeing signing, roster management, identifying and negotiating partnership deals. “Roc Nation is one of the most trusted and respected brands in music, culture, and beyond, Gould said. “I am thrilled to work with this team of professionals to grow the Roc Nation publishing footprint. Thank you Desiree and Jay Brown for this incredible opportunity. And a thank you to Omar Grant, without whom this would not have happened.”

+ Prescription Songs publishing in Nashville announced that Chris Martignago has joined as a senior member of the A&R team, while Rachel Wein has been promoted to A&R manager. The announcement was made by the company’s Nashville head of A&R by Katie Fagan. Martignago was previously with Atlantic Records, where he signed Anna Clendening; in her years at Prescription, Wein was instrumental in signing Tim Gent, Bryant Taylor, Carobae, James Droll and Megan Redmond and TikTok star Jordy.

+ Warner Chappell Music, the global publishing arm of Warner Music Group, has extended its worldwide publishing agreement with multi-platinum artist and songwriter Saweetie. The rapper – who is also signed to Warner Chappell’s sister label, Warner Records – has scored hits with songs like “Back to the Streets” ft. Jhené Aiko, “Tap In” and “Pretty Bitch Freestyle,” along with her RIAA double-platinum certified hit “My Type.” In January, Saweetie released her newest single, “Best Friend” with breakout artist Doja Cat.

Warner Chappell Music President of A&R, U.S., Ryan Press (pictured above with Saweetie), said: “We’ve been lucky enough to be on this incredible journey with Saweetie since the very beginning. We’re in the business of taking early bets on artists and helping develop them into global sensations, and that’s exactly the trajectory Saweetie is on. She’s well on her way to becoming the next big female breakout star, and we’re so proud to be able to continue to support her.”

Saweetie added: “Ryan and the whole Warner Chappell team have become family over the years. It’s amazing to look back at everything we’ve accomplished together, and I’m excited for this next chapter.”

+ The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC) has announced the addition of three new members to its leadership team, with Kristen Johns (Chief Legal Officer), Nathan Osher (Assistant General Counsel – Publisher Relations) and Andrew Mitchell (Head of Analytics and Automation) joining the organization earlier this month. All three will be based in Nashville.

“I am thrilled to welcome Kristen, Nathan and Andrew to The MLC’s growing team,” said Kris Ahrend, The MLC’s CEO. “Each of them possesses many years of experience in their respective areas of expertise, which will enable them to begin contributing immediately to the important work we are doing. All three are fully committed to serving our Members and fulfilling our important mission to ensure that our Members are paid properly.”

Johns will be responsible for leading the organization’s strategic legal affairs, as well as managing the statutory blanket licensing process for digital service providers and overseeing compliance with statutory obligations. She comes to The MLC from Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP in Nashville, where she was a partner at the firm. Osher will serve as The MLC’s primary in-house expert on music publishing and copyright issues, and he will also oversee the management and resolution of claims and litigation-related matters. He most recently served as Senior Vice President of Legal & Business Affairs for Warner Chappell publishing, and was previously the General Counsel and Vice President of Business Affairs at Wixen Music Publishing. Mitchell will lead The MLC’s analytics and automation activities. In this capacity, he will oversee the design and implementation of business intelligence reporting for The MLC’s internal teams and develop strategies and tools for analyzing the usage reporting data The MLC receives from digital service providers. He comes to The MLC from Warner Music Group, where he was the Vice President of Analytics & Process Automation.

March 31

+ Hi-res streaming service Qobuz has partnered with UMe, the catalog division of Universal Music Group, and Zappa Records to reissue 29 Frank Zappa albums in hi-res audio. Over a five-week campaign, releases will drop between now and May 7. Said Zappa’s son, Ahmet: “Qobuz’s awesome combo platter of Hi-Res Audio and the ability for fans to immerse themselves into the album art of their favorite musicians is an incredible listening experience and a perfect fit for Zappa Records. As far as I’m concerned, the ‘z’ in Qobuz stands for Zappa and we know fans of the ‘World’s Finest Optional Entertainment’ are going to love the Zappa Qobuz experience. As FZ said: ‘Music is the Best!’”

+ After five years in the role, John Marks is leaving his position as Global Director of Country Music for Spotify. The news was first reported by Music Row. A terrestrial radio veteran Marks moved to Nashville to take a role at SiriusXM; his role will be taken by Spotify’s head of editorial for Nashville, Rachel Whitney, who joined the company a year ago.

“It has been a privilege to work at Spotify since the beginning of its Nashville journey,” Marks said. “But I am also excited about what adventures lie ahead. I want to thank Jeremy Erlich, Rachel Whitney, our editorial team and the entire Spotify crew for the work that we have accomplished both in the United States and internationally.”

“When John Marks joined Spotify, he brought a wealth of knowledge and passion for the country genre—and has been an incredible asset to the Nashville team,” says Jeremy Erlich, co-head of Music, Spotify. “John will be truly missed and we wish him well.”

+ S10 Entertainment has named Josh Hallbauer the company’s VP of business & operations as well as head of publishing, the company announced Wednesday, with Hallbauer (seen above, right) reporting to CEO Brandon Silverstein (above left) in the L.A. office.

“We’re excited to welcome Josh to the team,” said Silverstein, who founded S10 as a multi-faceted management, publishing, label and investment company. “Bringing his deep experience to S10 is another example of how we’re continually thinking about how we can offer more to the creatives signed to the S10 family.”

S10’s not-quite-year-old publishing division currently has its first No. 1 single in Justin Bieber’s “Peaches,” which the company’s Harv co-wrote and co-produced. On the management side, S10 reps Normani and Anitta, among others.

“I’ve known Brandon for years and it’s been incredible to watch his vision for S10 come to life,” said Hallbauer. “I’m thrilled to join the team and be a part of moving that vision forward, working hard to build long-term careers for our clients.”

+ Warner Music Nashville has joined forces with Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley to represent Kelley’s solo music venture, Nashville South Records.

“I couldn’t be more grateful for everyone who has helped me on my journey to get here. I’m humbled to team up with Warner Music Nashville to take the music I’ve been dreamin’ and schemin’ up to the next level,” said Kelley. “This is just the beginning of a whole new adventure. My vision for what’s next is a vibe and state of mind – get ready to ride the wave with ya Beach Cowboy, y’all!”

“We are honored that Brian Kelley chose WMN as home to his solo endeavors,” says Warner Music Nashville EVP A&R Cris Lacy. “I’ve been an FGL believer from day one, and BK’s clear vision for himself and his upcoming project is a testament to his heart, soul, and talent. His new music is the perfect antidote to 2020, and what an incredible way to start 2021!”

+ Billy Mann and Benton James were announced Tuesday as partners with Warner Music Group’s ADA Worldwide in launching a new label, icons+giants.

Eliah Seton, WMG’s president of independent music & creator services, said, “On behalf of everyone at ADA and Warner Music, we welcome Billy and Benton and the icons+giants team to the ADA family. Billy and Benton are defining what comes next in music – they are on the cutting edge of this business, and we are so proud to be their partner and for ADA to be their home.”

“Whether you’re an artist or executive, we are all trying to find our tribe,” said Mann. “And just as we are partnering with artists that speak to who we are, we are grateful to have found partners in Max and Eliah who provide the same for icons+giants.”

Mann, perhaps best known as one of Pink’s primary writing and producing collaborators, has served stings as EMI Music Global’s president of international and COO and as BMG North America’s president of creative. He’s joined in the endeavor by James, an A&R exec and artist manager who was formerly the head of urban A&R for Red Bull Songs.

March 30

+ The Alliance for Women Film Composers has promoted Catherine Joy to president where she will serve on the board for two terms. Joy will be taking over from Starr Parodi.

The AWFC has also elected further members to its board including Sharon Farber (vice president), Esin Ozlem Aydingoz (secretary), Allyson Newman (director of membership and outreach) and publicist Thomas Mikusz (treasurer).

“It is surprising to me how often I still hear filmmakers say they are not sure how to find women composers,” said Joy. “During the next two years I want to partner with as many established filmmaker organizations as possible to build relationships and collaborate on events. We are not asking them to blindly hire women composers out of some sense of duty. We are simply asking that they let us pitch. Listening to five guy composers? Listen to five women as well. Want to take it a step further? How about a blind pitch? There are plenty of women composers to choose from. Make sure we have a seat at the table.”

Parodi will continue on the board of directors, together with Ariel Marx, Heather McIntosh, Mandy Hoffman, Nami Melumad, Ronit Kirchman, Stephanie Economou, Laura Karpman, Jenna Fentimen (UK), and Daisy Coole (UK).

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