Music Industry Moves: Warner Chappell Production Music Unveils New Studios in L.A. and Nashville

Warner Chappell Production Music has opened the doors to two new recording facilities: SkyLight Studios in Los Angeles and Sandtrack Sound in Nashville.

The WCPM team partnered with David Kotch of Criterion Acoustics to redesign SkyLight Studios, a former mastering lab located in Hollywood. The building is equipped to offer digital and analog recording capabilities with Pro Tools systems, a Neve console, vintage microphones, tape machines, and A-list outboard gear. The studio’s 500 square foot tracking room features a 9′ concert grand piano.

Its staff of seven includes five-time Grammy Award winner Ryan Freeland, who joined as House Engineer in December of 2020, along with WCPM’s VP of Production, Scott Reinwand, a long-term consultant who came onboard full-time in July of 2020 to help oversee West Coast production.

WCPM’s Sandtrack Sound is situated on Nashville’s Music Row in the more than 8,200+ square foot building originally known as Emerald Sound Studio and later, Benchmark Sound. Built in 1981 by pioneering acoustic designer Tom Hidley, it has been home to the creation of albums by Johnny Cash, George Strait, Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, Olivia Newton-John, and more.

Sandtrack features three studios, the largest of which, Studio A, is capable of holding more than 30 musicians. Studio A, along with two additional control rooms, received substantial equipment upgrades, including a custom hybrid Avid S6/Tonelux 1628 console and microphone preamplifiers by Rupert Neve Designs. The studio’s operations are overseen by longtime house engineer Mark Lonsway and WCPM SVP of production Aaron Gant.

+ The Orchard has named Naledi Nyahuma Seck VP of diversity, equity & inclusion. Based in Los Angeles, Nyahuma Seck will report to Orchard COO Colleen Theis and work closely with Tiffany R. Warren, Sony Music Group’s chief diversity and inclusion officer. In her newly appointed role at The Orchard, Nyahuma Seck will continue the company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, and establish talent pipelines and employee development programs. She joins from Universal Music Group, where she was senior director of diversity and includes and also served as the co-chair of internal/institutional change for Universal Music’s Task Force for Meaningful Change. Previously, she held positions at AEG and the Recording Academy.

“We will continue to focus on instituting fair practices across the board, and making The Orchard a place that truly fosters equity and inclusion,” said Theis. “We launched our employee-led Council for Equity and Progressive Action, which has rolled out many new initiatives over the past year. We’re excited to welcome Naledi as she brings her experience, passion and leadership alongside our company’s vision for a diverse and inclusive workplace.”

+ Live Nation Entertainment has named Nicole Portwood chief brand officer. According to the announcement, in this newly created role, Portwood will “further enhance the Live Nation brand across all channels by exploring new opportunities that develop deeper relationships with both artists and fans worldwide.” She joins Live Nation from PepsiCo, where she was most recently VP of marketing for Mountain Dew and the flavored soft drink portfolio. Prior to PepsiCo, she served as the VP and CMO at Tito’s Handmade Vodka for nine years.

“We built Live Nation into the leading live music brand by promoting and investing in artists around the world at every level from clubs to stadiums, and with Nicole’s expertise we will continue to expand our Live Nation product offering for both artists and fans,” said Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino. “We look forward to the new opportunities and growth Nicole will help shape, from onsite experiences to developing new digital content offerings such as NFTs or membership options.”

+ Downtown Music Holdings announced that it is centralizing its global new markets strategy as part of the company’s ongoing work to realign its operations. According to the announcement, the company has established a new department that will be responsible for unlocking growth opportunities for Downtown in both new and existing global territories; this follows the recent news of Downtown’s strategic shift to focus exclusively on services and the realignment of its portfolio of distribution, rights management and promotional divisions. The company currently manages more than 23 million music assets on behalf of more than 1 million creators and 2,500 enterprise clients.

Downtown has appointed Sheer Music Africa MD David Alexander to serve as Senior Vice President of this newly created global team, reporting to Downtown EVP of Global Business Development Andrew Sparkler. Downtown acquired the South Africa based Sheer last year, which formally expanded the company’s geographic footprint to the African continent. Heli Del Moral, who previously led CD Baby’s international business, will serve as Vice President. For the time being, Alexander will continue to manage the Sheer Music Africa business in addition to his new role. A search for a successor is currently underway.

Tuesday, June 1

Sean “Diddy” Combs has teamed up with Salesforce to launch Shop Circulate, which the announcement describes as a curated digital marketplace that allows consumers to discover and buy products exclusively created and sold by Black entrepreneurs. The platform’s goal is to provide Black businesses with a platform to reach global audiences and empowers consumers to shop the world’s best Black-owned brands. This innovative new platform will be designed and built by Deloitte Digital, an experience consultancy and strategic partner for Salesforce, and powered by Marketplacer’s best-in-class online marketplace technology.

The announcement notes, “On the heels of the centennial anniversary of the Tulsa massacre, Shop Circulate’s announcement reinforces the importance of supporting and empowering Black entrepreneurs and building wealth through ‘circulating’ dollars within the Black community.”

Combs said: “Building Black wealth starts with investing in Black-owned businesses and giving entrepreneurs access to the consumers needed to build sustainable companies that can thrive. I’m excited to partner with Salesforce to create a platform that will advance our collective pursuit of economic justice.”

“Salesforce is honored to collaborate with Sean Combs and Combs Enterprises to help close the unjust wealth gap that prevents too many Black Americans from achieving economic equality,” said Marc Benioff, Chair and CEO of Salesforce. “Shop Circulate will empower us all — as individuals, communities and companies — to support Black-owned businesses, amplify the talent of Black entrepreneurs and move us closer to true equality.”

+ Atlantic Records radio vet Juliette Jones, the highest-ranking African-American female exec at Warner Music Group, has left the company, a rep confirmed to Variety. She had been with the company since 2012, preceded by stops at Jive, Virgin and Warner Bros. over the course of her 25-year career. She stated in a post to the staff: “In alignment with my personal goals, I’ve decided that now is the time for me to move forward into the next exciting chapter of my professional career”; the news was first reported by Radio Facts.

+ Def Jam executive VP and GM Rich Isaacson is leaving Def Jam, a source confirmed to Variety, adding that a new GM is expected to be announced “soon”; the news was first reported by Billboard. The Loud Records co-founder had joined the label with former chairman/CEO Paul Rosenberg in January 2018. According to the memo his last day was May 28. “The company,” he wrote, “is going in a new direction, and it is time for me to move on.”

+As expected, French independent distribution and artist-services company, Believe, which also owns TuneCore and several labels, has launched its IPO on the Paris Euronext. The company announced an indicative price range of the IPO of between €19.50 and €22.50, with an initial issuance of 15,384,616 new shares, as reported in Music Business Worldwide, which would enable the company to meet its target for the public listing; it has also announced an over-allotment option that would bring the sum to €330 million. The French fund Fonds Stratégique de Participations has committed to an order for shares in an amount of €60 million, as part of the IPO.

The offering began Tuesday (June 1) and is expected to close next week on June 8 in France and the 9 th for international share transactions; Believe expects to start trading on the Paris Euronext on the 10 th.

+ Amy Ortner has joined Primary Wave Music as General Counsel and a member of the Senior Executive Team. According to the announcement, Ortner will be responsible for structuring, negotiating and drafting agreements for the company’s acquisitions of iconic music catalogs. She also will handle contract negotiations and other legal matters for Primary Wave Music’s publishing division, as well as its artist management, film & TV, marketing and branding divisions. She joins Primary Wave Music after more than two decades of private law practice, most recently with Loeb & Loeb LLP. She will be based in Primary Wave’s Los Angeles office.

+ Round Hill Music announced its acquisition of the publishing catalog of veteran Nashville-based rock band Lit, including its hits “My Own Worst Enemy” and “Miserable.” The band has released six worldwide studio albums, including their RIAA platinum-certified “A Place in the Sun.” Round Hill Records will also release the band’s seventh studio album in 2022.

 

 

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