Universal Music Group (UMG) has inked a number of key agreements with The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) to expand the company’s relationship with him across records, publishing, merchandise and branding. The news arrives on the heels of his co-headlining set with Swedish House Mafia at Coachella, and the January release of his latest album Dawn FM which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Firstly, the superstar artist, who has been signed to UMG’s Republic Records since 2012, has lengthened his deal with the label which will also include future audiovisual projects in collaboration with Republic and UMG. Though the company’s announcement states Republic will remain his label partner “for future recorded music releases,” it did not state the term or length of the extension.
On the publishing front, Tesfaye has just reached an agreement with Universal Music Publishing Group to move his administration over to the major publisher once his current deal with Kobalt expires. With a hugely lucrative catalog, including “Blinding Lights” which became the No. 1 song on Billboard’s Greatest Songs of All Time Hot 100 Chart last winter, the performer and songwriter holds key ownership of some of the most essential songs of the 21st century. The future UMPG deal includes administration of both his back catalog and future works.
UMG’s in-house brand management and merchandising company, Bravado, is also part of the company’s expanded relationship with The Weeknd. The company has worked with The Weeknd and XO Records for years and under the new extension will continue to do so with the goal of expanding “global merchandising, branding, ecommerce and retail licensing opportunities around future projects and releases,” according to UMG’s announcement.
The Weeknd’s new deal was negotiated by Kenneth Meiselas at Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks.
“Over the past decade, we have been honored to work so closely with Abel who has quickly become one of music’s most creative and important artists—a once-in-a-generation talent,” explained Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman & CEO of Universal Music Group. “With Sal and the XO team as our incredible partners, we’ve developed a deep trust and respect that has enabled us to successfully execute Abel’s brilliant vision. I am delighted that we are now able to expand this special relationship, welcome this world-class songwriter to UMPG, and evolve this creative partnership to new and exciting levels.”
Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, manager; co-founder/CEO of XO Records also touched on the decade of success the partners have had together, adding that “Our relationship is built on trust, success, and family values. I am proud and excited to be beside Sir Lucian, Monte, Avery, Jody and the rest of the Universal family building our next decade together.”
Monte Lipman, chairman & CEO of Republic Records, called The Weeknd “the consummate 21st century artist and global superstar” and that he “continues to break down creative barriers with his genre-bending repertoire. His success and career-defining accomplishments have made a historic impact around the world. It’s an honor to extend our alliance with Abel, Sal, Lamar, Cash and the XO Family in the evolution of The Weeknd.”
“The Weeknd is a world-class, boundary breaking artist and I couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome him and Sal to UMPG,” added Jody Gerson, chairman & CEO of UMPG. “Through this expanded and multi-faceted agreement, UMPG, Republic and Bravado global teams will be empowered to work closely together under one roof, maximizing opportunities and value for The Weeknd’s artistry in unprecedented ways.”