Warner Unveils Defiant Records; French Montana Joins Gamma


Warner Records has launched Defiant Records, a new joint venture led by Steve “Steve-O” Carless, president of A&R for the label.

“Defiant will be filled with individuals who are always challenging the status quo, always going to be in an innovation phase of their career,” said Carless in a statement.

The industry vet has held top roles across labels Atlantic Records, Def Jam Recordings, Republic Records, and Uptown Records – before taking on the role of president of A&R at Warner Records in September 2021. His expertise in A&R has helped guide the careers of artists like Pusha-T, Big Sean, YG, 2 Chainz Nipsey Hussle and Polo G. Carless also helped establish the late Nipsey Hussle’s Marathon Agency.

Along with the announcement, Defiant Records has released its first official project, the 27-song “Defiant Presents: Jiggy In Jersey (ft. Mcvertt).” The Jersey-club-inspired set was crafted by Defiant Records artists Mcvertt (the producer behind Lil Uzi Vert’s “I Just Wann Rock”), Bandmanrill and Sha EK and features remixed songs by Sexyy Red, A$AP Ferg, Trippie Red and more.

Check out one of the leading singles below:

+ French Montana has entered a global partnership with gamma. ahead of the release of his new single and video for “Good Summer.”

“I have known French for over ten years, and I am so excited to have him at our company as he is a true multi-disciplinary artist in keeping with the gamma. multi-disciplinary ethos,” said Larry Jackson, gamma.’s co-founder and CEO. “His new documentary is a 10, and his new music is equally awesome! French Montana, in my opinion, is also the best hip-hop A&R of the past decade. His ability to get the best out of his artists and producers alike is truly second to none. He continually mystifies me with how he continues to A&R and produce diamond single after diamond single. He’s a real deal triple threat talent.”

“Larry, Breyon, and I go way back,” said Montana. “What he’s built over the years at Apple is unmatched in the music industry, which is why I signed with .gamma. The moves they are already making as a company since they launched is incredible, especially the innovative way they are tackling African-born artists and their music. Make sure you listen to my first release on .gamma, Good Summer, it’s a summer anthem for all ages to vibe to!”

Beyond his music, this past June Montana unveiled his documentary, “For Khadija,” at the Beacon Theatre during the Tribeca Film Festival. The film is said to chronicle “Montana’s hidden path of adversity and how he defied the odds to become a multi-platinum recording artist,” according to a press release.

+ Indian record label Big Bang Music (founded in 2019 as a joint venture between Sony Music and management company KWAN) has signed a global publishing deal with Sony Music Publishing (SMP) to allow SMP to administer and promote Big Bang’s songs all over the world.

Both entities will work to increase the publishing and royalty earnings of Big Bang’s artists and songwriters with global opportunities for sync and songwriter collaboration. The agreement covers administration, sync and catalog promotion of the label’s repertoire.

Thursday, Aug. 10

Fast-rising singer-dancer-actor Mette has signed with RCA Records and dropped her new single and video, “Van Gogh.” The track is taken from her forthcoming EP “Mettenarrative,” out on Sept. 22. The song was produced by Jonny Lattimer (Rina Sawayama, Joy Crookes) and Mike Sabath (Raye, Lizzo), with the video directed by Camille Summers-Valli.

While a Minnesota native, Mette has found her initial success in the U.K., where her “Mama’s Eyes” single topped the country’s club charts and garnered a pile of positive press. Originally a dancer, she performed in the video for N.E.R.D and Rihanna’s hit “Lemon” and was a longstanding member of Pharrell’s dance squad the Baes. She also appeared alongside Jennifer Lopez in the film “Hustlers” and more recently played “Video Girl Barbie” in Greta Gerwig’s summer smash “Barbie’.

John Fleckenstein, COO at RCA Records, says, “Mette is a truly dynamic creative force. music, film, dance, fashion… and with something real to say. We couldn’t be prouder to team up with our team at Since 93/Sony U.K. – and to have the opportunity to bring the world to the incredible talent that is Mette.”

Glyn Aikins, co-president of RCA U.K. and Since ‘93, noted, “We are delighted to welcome Mette to the Since ’93 family alongside RCA U.S. A multi-hyphenate artist and quadruple threat, Mette’s music showcases the depths of her unique artistry. She is an all-around entertainer and is destined to become a global superstar – watch out!”

Watch the “Van Gogh” video below:

+ Peermusic has appointed Elizabeth Rodda as president of Latin America and global society relations. She will report to CEO Mary Megan Peer and be based out of peermusic’s Miami offices.

Rodda brings twenty years of experience working in music publishing and global collection societies and most recently served as ASCAP’s senior VP of International Affairs. In her new role, Elizabeth Rodda will be responsible for overseeing the company’s Latin initiatives and repertoire across South America, Mexico and Central America.

“Liz has a deep understanding of the complexity of the global rights ecosystem and a passion for advocating for songwriters,” said Peer. “Her strong relationships with key stakeholders within the Latin America region will be invaluable as she works to optimizing revenue growth in the region and rights flow for all peermusic songwriters. I’m confident that Liz will be a driving force both in the continued development of our Latin America operations and as a representative of peermusic to collections societies around the world.”

Rodda will work with local peermusic managing directors in those regions to sign new songwriters, producers, and music publishing catalogues and will oversee digital and synchronization activity. She will also be a key representative for the company in its global society relationships, working directly with CMOs and local offices around the world to increase registrations and collections.

+ Universal Music Singapore has named Alice Kent — formerly marketing, partnerships and business development director for Live Nation Singapore — as its new general manager.

Among the highlights of her career include landing significant sponsorship agreements for K-Pop group Blackpink, collaborating with Billie Eilish and the Singapore Tourism Board, and forging partnerships with companies like Singtel and PayPal.

As Universal Music Singapore’s new General manager, Kent will oversee all aspects of the company’s operations including artist and repertoire (A&R) initiatives, marketing endeavors, partnership ventures, and business expansion. Kent will report to Calvin Wong, CEO of South East Asia and senior VP Asia for Universal Music Group.

+ Producer, writer and multi-instrumentalist Keith Varon has signed a worldwide publishing deal with Position Music. Varon works across alternative and pop genres, with recent credits alongside Joji, Jxdn, Kenny Hoopla, Lexi Jayde, Lauren Sanderson and Chloe Moriondo. Varon has been on songs with Machine Gun Kelly, Travis Barker and Lindsey Sterling, among others.

“I could tell immediately when I walked into the Position Music offices for the first time that they are a company that pays attention to detail and has a sense of focus that matches mine,” says Varon. “I’ve known (Mark Chipello) now for many years, and have always admired his passion. I’m grateful for the amazing energy I’ve received from the whole Position Music team and I am extremely excited to begin this journey together.”

Tuesday, Aug. 8

Belinda has inked a deal with Warner Music to commence a new phase of the Mexican pop artist and actress’ long career.

Belinda touts business endeavors in television, fashion and music, having first been introduced to the world as a child actress in some of Mexico’s most popular soap operas including “Amigos x Siempre.” As a young adult, Belinda appeared in numerous other films, including the Disney Channel original movie “The Cheetah Girls 2.”

Her most recognizable hits include “Dopamina,” “Luz sin Gravedad,” “Egoísta,” “Bella Traición,” and “En la Obscuridad,” all of which are featured across the four studio albums she’s released. Belinda has also collaborated with a wide range of artists including Pitbull, Los Ángeles Azules and Steve Aoki. She’s been nominated for a Latin Grammy in the song of the year and best female pop vocal album categories.

“We are honored to welcome Belinda, one of the most important artists in Latin pop music, to our WML family,” said Alejandro Duque, president of Warner Music Latina. “Her undeniable talent, versatility, and dedication to her art make her a unique and exceptional artist. We are excited to accompany her on this new stage of her career, confident that together, we will reach new horizons and make history in her return to music.”

+ Kacie Anderson has been appointed the new senior director of brand partnerships at Epic Records. Anderson joins the team from IGA, where she was formerly the strategic brand partnerships manager for the hip-hop and R&B divisions.

Anderson is based in Los Angeles and will report to John Kirkpatrick, Epic Records’ senior VP of marketing. In her new post, Anderson will work on brand alignment and commercial endorsement opportunities for emerging and established music artists. Anderson’s experience in brokering brand partnerships has secured prime opportunities for Ari Lennox, Dreamville, Culture Kings, Reebok, Footlocker and TDE.

+ Alexander Vazelakis, formerly VP of A&R for Ultra Records, has been named head of A&R for the label. He will work out of Los Angeles and report to David Waxman, president of the electronic dance-focused label.

Added Waxman, “Alex has a keen ear for talent and extensive industry expertise. We are excited to have him leading the A&R team in this new chapter of his career at Ultra and look forward to the contributions he will make to further elevate the artistry and success of our roster.”

Vazelakis previously spent nearly a decade with Ultra Records scouting and working with such artists as Sofi Tukker, Icona Pop, Steve Aoki, Anabel Englund and DVBBS. Since 2022, he has served as VP of A&R at both Helix Records and Ultra Publishing, where he signed a diverse range of talent and assembled some of Helix’s biggest collaborations such as Jamie Jones and Channel Tres’ “Got Time for Me”, San Holo and Aurora’s “Bring Back The Color” and Snakehips and Lucky Daye’s “Solitude”.

+ Hustle&Co. has brought on publicist Nathalie Rubin to the team as an account supervisor. Rubin will report to Jenn DeMartino Callister, Hustle&Co.’s founder and CEO.

She will work to drive strategic press campaigns for clients across music, entertainment, live events, consumer tech and social impact including Vibee, Serato and Influence Media Partners, among many others.

Before joining Hustle, Rubin served as publicity manager at Elektra Entertainment, executing multi-tiered press campaigns for recording artists signed to Elektra Records, Fueled by Ramen, and DTA Records within the label group. She was also an account executive in the music department at ID Public Relations, with a roster of clients that included John Legend, Perry Farrell, Vince Staples, Olivia Rodrigo, Charlie Puth, Jewel, Natasha Bedingfield, Ziwe, and Universal Music Group, among others.

+ Normani has signed a co-management deal with Brandon Creed and Lydia Asrat through Creed’s newly-launched Good World Management and Asrat’s Q10. Normani was previously managed by Brandon Silverstein, who recently signed Myke Towers to a new deal with his company S10.

News of Normani’s new management venture was first reported by Rolling Stone, where the following quote from her new representatives was provided: “With new music on the horizon, and Asrat and Creed now at the helm of her musical career, she and the rest of her team are extremely excited to embark on this new chapter and partnership. She wishes Silverstein all the best.”

Normani has been teasing the release of her debut album since she first launched her solo career after the disbandment of Fifth Harmony in 2018. She’s had success with multiple singles including “Fair” last year, “Wild Side” with Cardi B, and “Diamonds” with Megan Thee Stallion.

+ Avex USA has signed Ambezza, the German hip-hop producer behind Drake and Future’s “Life Is Good” and Drake and Lil Baby’s “Girls Want Girls.”

Ambezza, who was named a Variety Hitmaker in 2020, is a Grammy-nominated whose catalog includes hits with Young Thug, Baby Keem, Iann Dior, Marshmello, Kodak Black, Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, 21 Savage, Gunna, Trippie Redd, Myke Towers and Jhay Cortez, among many others. In 2022, Ambezza launched his publishing and production company Ivory Sound, with inaugural singing Louis Yung (Roddy Ricch, DaBaby, Reezy) (in partnership with Coup D’Etat Music).

Ambezza is managed by Matt Geffen and Jamil Davis of the Revels Group and represented by Andrew Orcutt of Orcutt Legal. Ambezza has already begun working on new music out of Avex’s West Hollywood studio Avex House, according to a press release

Said Ambezza, “Avex is a unique company with a global footprint, driven team, and distinctive creative reach. I couldn’t be more excited to begin this new chapter of my career alongside Lou, Naoki and the entire Avex team.”

Avex USA Publishing also represents writers J. Que(Joji’s “Die For You”), Will Jay (Royal & the Serpent’s “overwhelmed”), Xansei(XG’s “SHOOTING STAR”). Through its joint venture with Brandon Silverstein Publishing, Avex also represents Justin Bieber’s close collaborator and Grammy-nominated producer Harv, Variety Hitmaker Jasper Harris and more.

+ Max Frost, an Austin-born and Nashville-based singer, has signed a new deal with Nettwerk and simultaneously announces a new single titled “Creep Back.”

Frost first signed to Atlantic Records off the success of his song “White Lies” and popular track “Adderall.” He’s toured with Panic! At The Disco, Twenty One Pilots, and AWOLNATION. He’s managed by Have Fun Management (Ron Shapiro, Joe Hegleman) and is represented by IAG (Marsha Vlasic, Craig Bruck).

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