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Oliver Heldens at Create Nightclub in Los Angeles. (Photo credit: NAFT Photography)
Warner Music Group has acquired Spinnin’ Records, the influential indie dance music label, along with its music publishing and artist management divisions. The deal is worth $100 million, according to Music Business Worldwide.
Founded in 1999, Spinnin’ has a current roster that includes artists like Bassjackers, Fedde Le Grand, KSHMR, Oliver Heldens, Quintino, Sam Feldt, and Tujamo. The label has previously released music by heavyweights like Afrojack, Bingo Players, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Martin Solveig, Martin Garrix, Nicky Romero, Tiësto, Yellow Claw, and many others.
Spinnin’ is home to a variety of sub labels as well, such as Tiësto’s Musical Freedom, Oliver Heldens’ Heldeep Records, Don Diablo’s Hexagon, KSHMR’s Dharma, among others.
As part of WMG, Spinnin’ will be run by its co-founder Roger de Graaf as CEO, who will work with Bart Cools, WMG’s EVP, global A&R and marketing, dance music. Co-founder Eelko van Kooten has decided to leave the music business to pursue interests in other industries.
De Graaf said in the statement:“Spinnin’ has found the perfect home at Warner Music. Max, Stu, Bart, and the team really believe in our culture and commitment to artist development. They share our vision for growing Spinnin’ by creating even bigger opportunities for our artists and their music. It’s been an incredible journey so far and, as we look to the future, everyone at Spinnin’ Records would like to thank our close friend Eelko for everything he’s done for our company, artists, and industry. His partnership and leadership mean he will forever be part of the Spinnin’ family.”
Stu Bergen, CEO of WMG, added:“Spinnin’ is a company built for the streaming age, where the line between a local and a global hit, as well as the distinction between marketing and commerce, is blurring. For both companies, this acquisition will open up new possibilities for our artists, expand our global reach, and bring in fresh thinking. We look forward to working alongside our new colleagues on behalf of Spinnin’s artists and songwriters.”
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Legendary music producer and executive Jimmy Iovine was a guest on The Howard Stern Show on Monday. The mogul recounted his five-decade career, from his early days as an engineer and producer to launching Interscope Records and Beats Electronics with Dr. Dre.
The interview follows the premiere of the trailer for HBO’s documentary, The Defiant Ones. The four-part series, which debuts July 9, chronicles Iovine’s partnership with Dre.
“I did three albums with John [Lennon]. That’s a lot of time. We hit it off, and that’s kind of why he let me in the studio.”
Iovine said he believes their bond was why Lennon asked him to be in the studio when he recorded vocals on David Bowie’s hit, “Fame.” The song appeared on his Young Americans album.
“That album set the tone of … a big part of my music career.”
In 1975, Iovine helped engineer Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run album, an experience that shaped his work ethic.
“Sony was gonna drop him. It’s not a secret. Bruce is not for sale. He’s not even for rent. There is nothing you have that he wants. … I learned my work ethic from this guy. This guy’s got the greatest work ethic, the most discipline, of anyone I’ve ever met in my life.”
Born to Run peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 200 chart and eventually sold over 6 million copies in the US. It also earned Iovine a reputation as one of the best in the business.
After a string of successes with U2, Tom Petty, and Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks, Iovine launched Interscope Records with the help of David Geffen.
“Business to [Geffen] is an art form. He just shows you how to move. … He has never gotten anything from me except friendship, and he’s given me so much wisdom over the years.”
Eventually, Iovine connected with Dr. Dre and signed a deal to distribute Suge Knight’s Death Row Records. Stern asked him about the feud between West Coast and East Coast rappers and he how dealt with it.
“In a lot of ways, it was terrifying. Going backwards is not an option.”
Iovine also recalled the day he ran into Dre on a beach and heard about a sneaker deal he was considering.
“I said, ‘Dre, f#ck sneakers, man. Let’s do speakers!’ … How could we miss? We make records.”
Watch two clips from the interview below.
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Facebook is stepping up efforts to reach a licensing agreement with the music industry, according to sources who spoke with Bloomberg.
A deal would allow music to be added to user-generated videos without getting flagged for copyright infringement. It would also potentially open the door for Facebook to obtain more videos from the labels themselves.
With nearly two billion users, Facebook provides a massive opportunity for the industry. It could mean billions of dollars in revenue. Licensed videos would also benefit Facebook, which wants to dethrone YouTube as the leader in online video.
Last month, Facebook hired Tamara Hrivnak, a former key music executive at YouTube. Hrivnak now leads Facebook’s global music strategy and business development.
However, Bloomberg says the talks with Facebook are “complex” and that “a deal could be a couple months away or more.”
“Facebook must also finish a system to police copyright-infringing material akin to Content ID, the system used by YouTube,” Bloomberg writes. “Videos on the site already feature a lot of music for which artists don’t receive royalties — a major source of tension.”
The Financial Times reported in January that Facebook is developing a content ID system, but did not say when it would be completed.
Watch Bloomberg’s report below:
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Facebook is developing a content identification system to fight copyright infringement, reports the Financial Times.
According to a source that spoke with Billboard, the system is similar to YouTube’s Content ID, which identifies videos containing copyrighted music. When the system finds a match, YouTube does what the copyright holder asks it to do with the video: mute it, block it, leave it alone, or monetize it with ads.
The report follows an increase in copyright enforcement on Facebook, which has resulted in blocked videos and in some cases disabled accounts. Both pre-recorded and live videos have been affected.
The stepped up enforcement has been a rude awakening for DJs, as Facebook had long been a haven for mixes and turntablism routines. Takedowns and disabled accounts had been relatively rare, compared to YouTube and SoundCloud.
Facebook’s new content ID system will likely result in a further increase in blocked videos and disabled accounts.
“[Facebook sees] the huge amount of traffic music content is responsible for on their platform and [doesn’t] want to be on the wrong end of an artist fight,” a music industry source told Billboard. “They also see that there’s a potential opportunity to position themselves as friendly to content creators as opposed to YouTube, so they are working fast to get this right.”
Billboard also reports that Facebook is currently in talks with major labels to license content, though the Financial Times cited a source saying a deal would not be done before the spring.
“The reality for Facebook and YouTube is that more and more they are transitioning from tech platforms to media companies,” the source told Billboard. “And the more they look like media companies, the more they are going to have to act like them and respect creators and pay for content.”
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Despite getting his start by throwing underground parties in the 1980s, Ultra Music Founder and President Patrick Moxey has always wanted to make the genre as popular as possible.
In 2013, the 49-year-old got closer to that goal when Ultra merged with Sony Music. Since then, Ultra has scored hits like Felix Jaehn’s remix of OMI’s “Cheerleader,” Robin Schulz’s remix of Mr. Probz’s “Waves,” and Chris Brown and Deorro’s “Five More Hours.” Ultra also won a heated bidding war for Kygo, the leading figure of the tropical house movement.
Billboard recently spoke with Moxey about his beginnings, Ultra’s crossover success, and the challenges that dance music faces.
On his background in hip-hop:
“I was working for Russell Simmons and that led to my first label, Payday Records, a hip-hop label through PolyGram. I signed Jeru the Damaja and managed [MC] Guru and DJ Premier from Gang Starr at the time. I was really getting a window into that scene — I was in the studio with Notorious B.I.G. when Premier was doing records with him; I met Tupac. But I also loved dance music, so I went to my boss and said, ‘Look, I think dance music is really on the way up.'”
On tropical house going mainstream:
“I remember when Britney Spears [her 2011 hit ‘Hold It Against Me’] did a dubstep bridge — that was a moment where dubstep went overground. I felt the same when I heard Justin Bieber’s ‘What Do You Mean?’ with the tropical flavors. But I guess that’s just a tribute to the quality. The mainstream has to incorporate it to be relevant.”
On dance music being single-driven:
“At first there was a certain amount of skepticism [at Sony] to working singles-driven dance acts — it was like, ‘Well, where’s the album?’ — but to some extent dance music is the closest thing to the 1950s, where you have the excitement of people buying singles. You can have a huge dance single every week — why not be the best at that?”
On the challenges that dance music faces:
“Everyone is making it — anyone with a laptop can make it. There’s no barrier to entry like there used to be, like paying $1,000 to go into a studio. The challenge is going to be reinvention, and reinvention requires musicality. That’s why I think the DJ culture peaked in 2013, and now we’ve moved to electronic artists, where you’ve got to be a real artist, from your live show to playing instruments. There’s no room for somebody to get up and just play a couple of records anymore. Think about how ahead of his time Moby was with his  Play album, with all those deep Southern chants. That’s the type of innovation that will help build artists at this point, and that’s the kind of musical curiosity that dance music artists need to keep growing.”
Related: Billboard’s Top 30 EDM Power Players
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deadmau5 (photo credit: Danny Mahoney)
Joel Zimmerman, aka Deadmau5, is leaving Universal’s Astralwerks for Kobalt, an independent rights management and publishing company. The Canadian DJ/producer revealed his plans during a recent interview with Billboard.
Zimmerman said he’s bringing his recordings, publishing and Mau5trap label to Kobalt, which counts Skrillex, Trent Reznor, Dave Grohl, and Paul McCartney among its clients.
“The label does what’s good for the label. Always,” Zimmerman told Billboard. “It’s instilled in the industry that that’s the only way to do it. Well, not anymore.”
“I am very strict on what products I want to associate myself with, and I felt that some things were just to make a buck,” he said. “Then, we’d only get a little trickle, and I’d be like, ‘Wait, I look this stupid for only that much? Why am I looking stupid in the first place?’”
In addition to more freedom, Kobalt promises near-real-time review of publishing income and claims to collect 20 to 30 percent more revenue than the majors.
“I’m not saying I’m never gonna get f#cked again,” Zimmerman said. “But I do like the freedom that, if I do f#ck up, it’s my fault rather than the fault of someone who bought that responsibility from me.”
Zimmerman’s decision to leave Universal was reinforced by the fact that most of his income comes from touring. However, he still retains ownership of his back catalogue and will inherit full control from his former labels, Ultra and Universal, when their respective licenses expire in 2027 and 2029.
Related: Deadmau5 and Disney Settle Dispute Over Logo
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Skrillex performs at Red Bull Guest House in Miami, Florida. (Erik Voake/Red Bull)
Forbes has published an article about the rise of DJ-owned record labels and their mission to expose the next big talent.
Below are some notable quotes from the piece, which can be read in its entirety here.
Dim Mak Founder Steve Aoki: “I’m holding a mirror, so when attention comes towards me, I’m pointing the mirror towards artists I think are the next young guns and pioneers of sound . . . If I became famous first and then started a label, I don’t know if I would have had the same motivation in that regard.”
OWSLA Founder Skrillex: “The whole idea was just to build a team around people who are young as well, and to give them the opportunity to grab the reins . . . I’m always trying to find that new sound, that new star person that I believe in.”
Fool’s Gold Co-founder Nick Catchdubs: “It’s our duty to expose people to new stuff and to sneak in as many new acts as we can.”
Related: How to Get Signed to Skrillex’s OWSLA Label
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Wendy Goldstein in her Republic Records office in Santa Monica, California. (Christopher Patey)
Republic Records has been on fire in recent years, and one of the key players behind the success is their Executive VP/Head of Urban A&R, Wendy Goldstein.
A former DJ and resident of Brooklyn, Goldstein began her career as a secretary and later talent scout for late Epic Records A&R executive Bruce Harris. She then went on to hold A&R posts at RCA, Atlantic subsidiary East West, Geffen (where she signed The Roots, Common, and GZA), and Priority.
In 2008, Goldstein joined RCA, initially as a consultant, where she now works with superstars like Ariana Grande and The Weeknd. Her latest project, Hailee Steinfeld, had one of the most added pop songs on the radio last week (“Love Myself”).
Billboard recently spoke to Goldstein about why Republic has been so successful, the current state of urban music, what it’s like being a woman in the industry and more. Below are our favorite responses from the interview.
On Republic having four of the seven number one radio songs in 2015:
“As a company, we’ve become very fine-tuned at understanding what a radio record is — for this moment in time; those things change. But for the run we’re having now, there’s this certain DNA to a hit song that we know how to do. We’re also very strategic with our releases. People always say, ‘Oh, they’re a radio company,’ or, ‘They’re a research company.’ I beg to differ. We’re a very A&R-centric company. All of the successful records we’ve had, for the most part, in the last two years have been made from scratch.”
On what the formula for a hit is:
“It’s tough to pinpoint. ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ breaks all the rules. He’s talking about drugs, to begin with — and not soft drugs. But I think the DNA is simply things that are really catchy, interesting and stick with you. If you look at the common thread of a lot of our records, they’re catchy and fit the artist. A hit record is just a moment, a 3:30 version of something that stays with you forever.”
On why R&B is struggling:
“I don’t think the artists are being as innovative as they should be. Even on the hip-hop side, the records have been dumbed down so that very few really smart records get through, like a J. Cole, Kendrick or a Big Sean. But on the singing side, it has been worse. No one has been able to pull up with a defining record that’s a game-changer. That’s what R&B needs right now. Guys that we were hoping were going to be that have been very slow to get out of the box again, like Frank Ocean and Miguel. And it’s partially radio’s fault. They’re not so open to playing [adventurous] things until they’re big somewhere else.”
On the lack of innovation in urban music:
“Urban has a fundamental problem trying to find its place, and it absolutely is the fault of the system: You could cut the exact same songs with a black female singer that I cut with Ariana, and they would be nowhere as big. But I also feel that we have to get a little more adventurous in urban. When you think about groups like The Fugees and Outkast — where are those groups today? Where’s that person who has that voice like Lauryn Hill who can be as f–ing grimy and ‘hood’ as possible, but then come out with a song like ‘Killing Me Softly’ that was No. 1 around the world? The only true R&B that’s out there right now, I hate to say it, are legacy things. But kids know no genre-specific boundaries, so you’re getting more hybrid acts like The Weeknd or Janelle Monae, which wouldn’t necessarily sit at just R&B [radio]. At some point, you’re going to see the hybrid things break out.”
On the term ”urban”:
“It’s an antiquated term that’s not specific enough anymore to reflect the music coming out. Labeling something is functional because you have to be able to explain it, but it’s also limiting.”
On the challenges of being a woman in the music industry:
“I never felt discriminated against, and never felt like I couldn’t do the job. I come from an era where if someone hit on you, you dealt with it — you didn’t run to HR. And the times I was told that women should be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, I laughed it off. If anything, it fired me up: ‘F– you. I’ll show you. I’ll be a boss one day.'”
Related: The Weeknd’s ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ Receives House Remix From DJ Drew
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Skrillex performing at Ultra Music Festival 2015. (Rukes)
Skrillex’s record label OWSLA is one of the most influential and forward-thinking electronic music brands in the world. The company currently boasts a roster that includes Jack U, Valentino Khan, Kill The Noise, What So Not, and DJ Sliink. It also helped build the careers of heavyweights like Zedd and Dillon Francis.
OWSLA was founded in 2011 by Sonny “Skrillex” Moore, Blood Company’s Tim Smith, Biz 3 Founder Kathryn Frazier, and Biz 3’s Clayton Blaha. Another key member of the team is General Manager Blaise DeAngelo, who spoke with Digital Music News about the company’s philosophy and what it takes to get signed to a label.
Whether you’re a fan of OWSLA or not, DeAngelo’s advice applies to any budding artist and underlines the importance of developing a distinctive brand. Below are the stand-out quotes from the interview.
Their goal isn’t to have a signature sound.
“People ask: ‘What’s OWSLA’s sound?’ We don’t have a sound. The unifying thread that brings all of our artists together, and I think the main thing we look for when we’re evaluating new signings, is if that person is really pushing the envelope. We look for people who are doing their own thing and building a scene around themselves.”
They discover new artists through existing relationships.
“For the most part things come to us. It’ll be someone who’s a friend of a friend. I guess a good example would be Alesia, the Parisian techno duo, came to us from Brodinski and the Bromance crew. So we’re friends with them, Sonny met those guys when he was playing at Social Club in Paris a few years ago. We’ve stayed tight with them because he recognized that Bromance is another label that has a very strong vision, and we’re interested in what they’re doing. They found the Alesia guys in Paris and they thought that OWSLA would be a good home for them, they sort of fit with everything we’re doing.”
Skrillex searches for new artists on the Internet.
“[Skrillex is] also always on SoundCloud, he’s always on YouTube, he’s always listening to stuff. He just has that insatiable desire to discover new stuff. I would say most of our A&R direction comes from Sonny or Sonny’s relationships.”
They’re interested in artists who are blazing their own trails.
“You can teach an artist how to mix better, how to make better sounds, how to work with the technical side of the audio engineering. . . . But what you can’t teach is that confidence in being able to generate and harvest ideas, and to pursue those ideas confidently, unwaveringly, without trying to follow trends.”
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In the case of Fool’s Gold Records co-founder Nick Catchdubs, he’s not only running the show, but also performing at the show.
A New Jersey native, Catchdubs launched the label with A-Trak in 2007 and continues to hold it down. He also stays busy DJing around the world and producing music (his remix of Dej Loaf’s “Try Me” has amassed over 300,000 SoundCloud plays since November.)
As part of their “1 on 1” series, Scratch DJ Academy sat down with Catchdubs to discuss his beginnings, production philosophy and plans for the future. It’s always great to hear from the folks who make things happen behind the scenes, and Catchdubs was more than willing to share his story and insights. Watch below:
Here’s a breakdown of the topics covered:
– His beginnings (0:15)
– Being inspired by genre blending DJs such as Hollertronix and Mark Ronson (1:00)
– How he got into DJing (2:15)
– Approach to production and latest single “Wuts That” (3:40)
– Remixing Dej Loaf’s “Try Me” (6:40)
– Preferred production gear (8:50)
– Plans for the future (10:30)
Related: Nick Catchdubs Remixes Dej Loaf’s ‘Try Me’