The Deals: TikTok’s New Pact With WMG, MelodyVR Buys Napster

TikTok has struck a licensing deal with Warner Music Group (WMG) that encompasses both its recorded music division and Warner Chappell publishing division, Billboard has confirmed. The new agreement follows a short-term licensing pact the companies signed back in April.

The licensing agreement – the second in less than two months for TikTok following its announcement of a new licensing deal with Sony Music in November – will increase WMG’s fees for song rights and ramp up the company’s collaborations with the booming social app. Additional details, including term length, were not disclosed.

WMG’s current roster includes such megastars as Dua Lipa, Lizzo, Ed Sheeran, Cardi B and Coldplay.

Virtual reality livestream platform MelodyVR has completed its acquisition of Napster.

“Over the coming year, we intend to leverage the existing Napster userbase, partners and underlying technologies…as part of the foundation to build a next-generation music platform,” said MelodyVR CEO Anthony Matchett, who described the planned venture as a “cross-platform, hybrid music service, delivering audio recordings including the latest albums, video content incorporating music videos and documentaries, as well as renowned live-events.”

Once a giant in the peer-to-peer file-sharing space during the late 1990s and early 2000s, Napster now operates as a streaming service and boasts five million users and over 1.1 million paying subscribers — numbers that include users on third-party services powered by Napster, including SONOS Radio.

Matchett further stated that MelodyVR will look to grow the company’s userbase “far beyond the $100m of revenue that is currently being generated.”

Ingrooves Music Group announced Thursday it has acquired Electromode, a leading independent music distributor in South Africa with a roster of more than 200 artists and labels. The deal marks Ingrooves’ entrance into Africa and is just the latest sign of growth across the continent’s music market.

As part of the deal, Electromode managing director Chris Ghelakis will stay on to lead his Johannesburg-based team, working with Ingrooves to boost African artists and brands and find new audiences around the globe. Electromode comes with a catalog of 30,000-plus songs courtesy of a label roster that includes New Money Gang, Pizza Hub, Ambitouz Entertainment and Spirit Music.

“Music consumption in Africa continues to increase year over year and has become one of the most exciting growing music markets in the world,” said Bob Roback, CEO of Ingrooves Music Group. “Chris and his team have built one of the most vibrant independent music distributors in Africa and we are thrilled for him to be leading our expansion into the region. We look forward to growing artists in Africa and introducing African artists to new audiences around the world.”

DJ streaming and subscription service Beatport has acquired Loopmasters, the U.K.-based record label and online retailer for sound packs and plugins. The deal includes Loopmasters’ consumer brands Loopcloud and Plugin Boutique.

Beatport and Loopmasters have been in business together since Aug. 2019, when the two companies signed a partnership that resulted in Beatport integrating Loopmasters’ product suite into its website and making a strategic investment in the company. Since then, the two companies have launched several strategic and marketing initiatives “that brought both…to this logical conclusion of a full combination.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Matt Pelling and the entire Loopmasters team are world-class people who have built amazing products for the producer community that simply belong in our ecosystem,” said Beatport CEO Robb McDaniels in a statement. “The phenomenal growth of Plugin Boutique, the leading global seller of virtual instrument plug-ins, and the recent launch of Loopcloud, an innovative subscription service for the samples market, are a testament to the talent of their team, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome them to the Beatport family.”

As part of the deal, Loopmasters founder Matt Pelling and Gareth Halsall, Plugin Boutique’s general manager, signed multi-year contracts and will continue to lead Loopmasters. Pelling will report to McDaniels and the company will retain its offices south of London.

“We have been very impressed by the power of the Beatport brand with the global DJ producer marketplace, and have thoroughly enjoyed working closely with the Beatport team over the past few years,” added Pelling. “Everyone at Loopmasters strongly believes that the combination of these two great companies will deliver an unparalleled, end-to-end content supply chain for music producers for many years to come.”

In the coming year, the companies plan on fully integrating Loopcloud and Plugin Boutique into Beatport’s retail properties while launching further marketing and promotional programs.

Mom + Pop Music has signed emerging singer-songwriter Frances Forever (a.k.a. Frances Garrett), who won NPR’s Tiny Desk contest in 2019 and recently scored a streaming hit with the track “Space Girl,” which peaked at No. 27 on Billboard’s Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart.

Hailing from Boston, Frances Forever’s music is described as “a seamless blend of hazy bedroom pop daydreams and crystal-clear radio visions, threaded together in the same melodic galaxy.”

Geffen Records has signed singer, songwriter and actress Olivia Rodrigo. The label will release her debut original new song, “drivers license,” on Jan. 8.

“Drivers license” is a studio-produced version of a song Rodrigo wrote on Instagram last summer. She will release her debut EP — described as a “piano-driven, alt-pop collection of songs” — later this year.

Rodrigo currently stars in Disney+’s High School Musical: The Series and wrote the song “All I Want” for the show’s soundtrack. She is repped by WME, Greene Talent and Camp Far West.

Breaking Down Daddy Yankee & Marc Anthony’s Salsa Hit ‘De Vuelta Pa’ La Vuelta’

Daddy Yankee and Marc Anthony ended 2020 with a bang, delivering the traditional salsa track “De Vuelta Pa’ La Vuelta” that, in a matter of days following its release (Dec. 10), became a chart-topping hit debuting at No. 6 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart (dated Dec. 26). It currently sits at No. 1 on the Tropical Airplay chart (dated Jan. 9).

“I think this is atomic,” Marc Anthony tells Billboard, who received the demo from Yankee and instantly fell “in love” with the song. “What he sent me was pure gold. Absolute Marc Anthony vintage.”

The Sergio George-produced track became the first collaboration between the two Puerto Rican powerhouses, who belt out heartbreak lyrics over an uptempo dance beat. While the track may be pure salsa, Yankee doesn’t hold back in his fast-paced rapping verses that include the hook “de vuelta pa’ la vuelta.”

“That hook was all Daddy Yankee,” George says. “He is just brilliant and this collaboration truly worked because he knows the genre, understands the culture, he’s a salsa music fan so it’s honest and real.”

“[‘De Vuelta Pa’ La Vuelta’] has that salsa sound from the barrio that I’ve always been a fan of,” Daddy Yankee said on social media. “I was able to fuse that with my urbano essence and Marc Anthony’s world with the orchestra and the instruments. We made it happen.”

Below, a breakdown of “De Vuelta Pa’ La Vuelta”:

Who called who:
“Yankee sent me the track and he calls me and says, ‘Marc, I’ve always wanted to work with you. We’ve been talking about this for years. And I have this one song,'” the “Vivir Mi Vida” singer recalls. “Like I tell everybody, ‘Man, it has to be good. It has to be a song I would sing on my own. It has to be a hit.’ What he sent me was pure gold. Absolute Marc Anthony vintage. It was perfection.”

Sergio George was brought onboard by Marc Anthony to produce the salsa song. “I took the track and started producing it by myself in my house in New Jersey because of the pandemic. I started laying down the track and sent it to Marc. It was only a demo. He said, ‘I love it, let me send it to Yankee,'” George says. “The interesting part about this is that all the sounds you hear on the final track were part of the demo. Marc told me, ‘don’t worry about the urban stuff, Yankee will probably add that.’ We sent to Yankee, he laid down vocals and sent back to me but every time he’d send back, it was my music. I thought ok they might add it later. I always thought Yankee and his team would maybe change some of my stuff but they didn’t. And when they said ‘[we] love it.’ I didn’t dare to change a thing.” In a matter of approximately four hours, Marc Anthony recorded the track with a live band in a studio in Miami. “We knew it was a hit right then and there.”

The lyrics: 
The opening verse finds an emotional Daddy Yankee processing a betrayal via dramatic lyrics. “Before you say anything, your eyes have already confirmed everything. It’s true what they told me and it’s too late to deny it. I tried to keep people like you away from me but at the end of the day, I’m human,” Yankee sings over a slow intro. Then, as the songs picks up to an uptempo, Marc Anthony joins Yankee to trade verses about the infamous ex. “You humiliated me and I know you enjoyed it because that’s what you do … when you’re packing your bags, don’t forget to pack your pride too. You’ll need it when you try to come back,” the salsero sternly adds.

The team: 
Songwriters: Edgar Barrera, Elena Rose, Daddy Yankee, Marc Anthony, Rafael A. Pina Nieves and Sergio George

Producer: Sergio George

“This was a good song that these great artists made into a great song,” says George. “I stepped out of the way and let them do their thing and whatever they wanted me to do I did. The catalyst behind this is Marc and Yankee. Their creativity, passion, they understand what their market likes, it’s amazing. That’s why this song works. It’s great art.

Lali, Carin León & More Latin Artists Share Their New Year’s Resolutions For 2021

There’s nothing quite like a renewed sense of optimism and opportunity that comes with the new year.

And while the first days of 2021 may not seem so different from last year (we’re still in lockdown due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic),  a new year calls for the pledging of new year’s resolutions.

Whether it be self-care, calling family members more often, releasing a first album or eating healthier, Latin artists such as Lali, Carin León and Reik’s Jesús Navarro are sharing some of the 2021 resolutions with Billboard.

Check them out below.

Lali: “To continue to work on my spirituality, just how I’ve been doing in the past couple of years. And to spend time in the studio not only searching for new songs but to get to know more magical people that I’m sure will become great friends.”

Jesús Navarro: “Like most people, I struggle with maintaining a level of health that is reasonable. I feel like I don’t take care of myself as I should. And I would like to use this lockdown as an opportunity to be a little more stable and disciplined. That’s one of my resolutions. And the other one is not to be discouraged by whatever is happening in the world and to be able to keep working and keep making music for everybody. Because it’s easy to become discouraged and jaded and not want to do anything anymore so I’m willful to not let that happen to me.”

Carin León: “Some of my new year’s resolutions are to continue growing not only as an artist but also as a person. To be more productive, eat healthier and be innovative with my musical and visual projects.”

Gerardo Ortiz: “My biggest resolution this year would be to be healthy and to be able to continue sharing my music with all my fans. I miss my public and that energetic feeling I get when I’m on stage. I’m also very excited to soon be sharing my Decimo Aniversario album with you all.”

Ivy Queen: “My resolution for this year is to be able to heal those that need healing via my music. To be happy because life isn’t about losing it. And to be thankful, always, because that opens doors.”

María Becerra: “I see 2021 as an opportunity to be better. It’s a new opportunity for my music to have a positive influence and fuel everyone that listens to my music. To be able to release my first album, which I have been working on for a long time now. And to keep my fans closer. It’s because of them that I am where I am. I hope to never lose connection with them and that this 2021 makes us more united.

Séssi: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy on fighting the old but building the new. 2020 broke the ice for me. In 2021, I will not be afraid of expression. I wish to perform at a major award show, land a skill as an aerialist, and top extreme fitness goals. I’d also love to speak on confidence and build a support group for women through my music. Use me as your muse.”

Flor de Toloache: “2020 was an unforgettable year, full of challenges and global change. In the midst of all the chaos, thankfully there is always the pure expression of music. We’ve been blessed with being able to express ourselves and inspire others. We hope this year brings us closer together, that we take the time to reflect, heal and be kind to one another. We will continue to create, empower, inspire, bring joy, spread knowledge and celebrate our cultures the way we do best, through our music.”

Georgel: “All of my 2021 resolutions are grounded by the concept of “action,” not allowing fear to paralyze me. With or without pandemic, I will not wait for “things to get better.” I will fight for the causes that ache my soul, such as LGBTQ+ and gender equality rights, extreme poverty and the wellbeing of our planet. I want to use my music to put this issues in front of as many people as I can.”

Silvana Estrada: “2020 was a really tough year. I learned a lot about gratefulness and love. For 2021, I’m really looking forward to the release of my album Marchita and to finally share it with the world. I’m also very motivated to get back into the studio to record all the new songs that I made while in quarantine. And, of course, I’m also dying to get back on stage and sing in front of an audience. Hopefully this year things will get better and with the right protocol we can tour and visit all those beautiful cities that I couldn’t play last year. But mostly, I want to stay creative and be open to new aprendizajes (lessons).”

Ulices Chaidez: “Professionally, my resolution for 2021 is for my music and lyrics that have given me so much joy as a songwriter to reach more people. Personally, I want to focus on the peace and happiness that my family brings.”

Pedro Tovar Jr. (Eslabon Armado): “I hope that 2021 brings me wisdom, understanding and lots of patience so that I can continue to grow and help my family.”

Gian Marco: “For this 2021, I wish to release my new album, return to the stage and to continue doing what I enjoy most in life, which is to keep creating music.”

Silvestre Dangond: “The sun always shines after the storm. The only thing we haven’t lost is hope and we should strive to see the world not how it was before but as a better world, for everyone. The important thing is to get back to normality, work, concerts and give fans that desperate need for music and happiness on stage.”

Cami: “2021 is going to be a very important year, as my third album will drop. I’ve been working a lot on an aesthetic level, musically and visually for this album. I will travel soon to film my new music video for the second single from this forthcoming album. I will continue working hard to give you all new music. And, well, a nice present for this 2021 was my Grammy nomination.”

Antonio Sanchez (Los Rivera Destino): “Arrive to places on time and not write to my ex-girlfriend.”

Fernando Tarrazo (Los Rivera Destino): “Quit smoking and learn to make crème brûlée.”

Carlos Figueroa (Los Rivera Destino): “Learn to drive an automated manual car and take singing lessons.”

Kevin Ortiz: “I wish for good health for everyone and I hope to give my fans my next single, which will be penned by my younger brother Oscar Ortiz, who will be making his debut as a songwriter. My resolution is to also work hard in the studio to give you all a new album.”

Corina Smith: One of my new year’s resolutions is to call my family members more often, because why work so hard if you’re not going to share it your loved ones? I also want to be more conscious and take care of my thoughts. You attract what you think of. That way, I’ll be able to manifest what I want without limitations or stress.”

Jencarlos Canela: “My resolution for 2021 is to live with balance. Stay committed to my higher self and improving my relationship with planet earth.”

Lika Nova: “Our new year resolution is to be closer to our fans and beat the distance this whole situation has put between us. Giving them new music to put a smile on their faces is our best way to be there for them in these weird times. Let them remember that to dance is the most subversive act against sadness.”

Alex Rose: “As an artist, one of my new year’s resolution this year is to continue doing what I love most on stage, to sing with my fans and enjoy their energy. Plus, to expand my music and be able to tour in Europe. That would be a huge satisfaction for me in 2021.”

Yashua: “Praying every day, making my relationship with God stronger and training to be the best version of myself so I can be the No. 1 artist on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot Latin Songs chart.”

Atomic Otro Way: “2020 was a year of reflection. Looking at it on the positive side, I was able to dedicate time to my family and feel how important they are to me. That is why I want to use my time in 2021 to continue innovating new ideas to further achieve my goals, give my family a better future, and improve myself as a person.”

Nibal: “This year I will enjoy every instant to the maximum. And, I will release new music and I hope to send a message via my music.”

Big Soto: “Every year has been a lesson, evolution and a lot of growth. 2020 was not easy but we made major steps. I know one day my name will be a household name, but for now we must continue working. 2021 will be an important year because, with the support of my label, I will release my first album titled The Good Trip. More music, important collaborations and a lot of surprises. The goal is to be a global artist that has no musical limits and that always tries to break barriers. 2021 will not be the exception. A new year and a new beginning for leadership.”

Willie Gomez: “One of my resolutions for this year is to release tons of new music and to finally release my first album, which I’ve been working on for the past two years. I also can’t wait to go on tour with my music for the first time in Latin America and the rest of the world. I’d also like to attend some award shows, as I’ve done in the past as a dancer, but this time I’ll be there as a musician. This would be huge for me. The most important thing is to help my mom so she doesn’t have to worry about a thing anymore. That’s my priority! Also, I’d love to collaborate with artists I admire.”

Valentina (Duo Vale): “For this 2021, I would like to keep learning and cultivating tools that serve the project such as photography, interpretation and storytelling, to read more books written by women, to dedicate more time to my instrument and practice daily so when the time to perform comes I feel more comfortable.”

Valeria (Duo Vale): “This year I really want to cultivate and celebrate true connection with the people I love, family and friends as well as the people who find our music. I really want to keep working on the way I speak and communicate my ideas and what I feel or think in a way that is sincere and assertive. And I hope to do that as well in our music, because words are such a powerful tool. Last year. I started learning Portuguese by myself and I hope this year I can finally have a full conversation with someone in Portuguese.”

Juhn: “To enjoy each day to the fullest, live in the present and not worry about the things I cannot control. Not take things for granted and that my family comes first. More time with family and lots of time making music that I like.”

Samantha Sanchez: “I’m so excited for 2021, and all the new music that is coming with the new year. My three resolutions for this year are: Growth, not only personal growth but also growing and expanding in this musical journey. To learn how to produce my own music is one of my main goals for this year a challenge that I’m ready to take. Let’s go! And, [to] eat healthy. Making music means staying up late and staying up late means eating pizza rolls at 3:00 a.m. (For sure working on this one!)

Peter Nieto: “This year I will be more me and less them. My music will speak for me. Love and freedom will guide me in this journey to make my dreams come true.”

Yari M: “This year I want to release tons of new music. 2020 was a hard year but despite everything that happened, good things happened too. I released my first single “Fulana” and it reached 1 million views on YouTube. My resolution for this year is to grow as an artist to be able to release more songs. I will work hard doing what I love most. This is my year. Be on the lookout for many collaborations that are coming your way.”