Business

BROADWAY RECORDS FOUNDER VAN DEAN TO LAUNCH NEW LABEL: CENTER STAGE RECORDS (Broadway World)

Grammy Award and Tony Award-winning producer Van Dean is launching his new record label, Center Stage Records. The new label already has over two dozen albums scheduled for the coming year, including exciting titles from Broadway, Off-Broadway, London’s West End, concept recordings and major Broadway solo artist recordings.

In addition to its New York headquarters, Center Stage Records is deeply committed to the West End/London theatre and is establishing a London office which will be led by Executive Director, London producer/GM, Jamie Chapman Dixon.

Broadway Records’ Robbie Rozelle will also be joining Center Stage Records as its A&R Director and will design the artwork/packaging for its new releases. He will also continue to conceive and produce albums with key artists.

Most recently, Van Dean has been running Broadway Records under the ownership of Cutting Edge Group, which acquired the premier label from Dean in early 2020. The intention is for Center Stage to collaborate with Broadway Records on selected releases in the future and for Dean to consult for Broadway Records/Cutting Edge to aid in the transition. As part of Dean’s new venture, Center Stage will take over the management and distribution of nearly two thirds of the Broadway Records back-catalog with the remaining one third of titles staying with Broadway Records.

Under Cutting Edge, Broadway Records will continue as a leader in the musical theater album space, supporting its valuable retained catalog of titles, and releasing select new frontline cast albums including with its existing production partners such as The National Theatre in London.

For more info on Center Stage Records please visit: www.centerstagerecords.com

Van Dean (President and Founder) is a Tony Award and Grammy Award winning producer. He co-founded Broadway Records which released nearly 300 albums during his leadership. Van earned his Grammy Award for helping to produce the Broadway Records’ release of the 2015 Broadway revival of The Color Purple. His Grammy nominations were earned for his work on Matilda the Musical, My Fair Lady and Caroline, or Change. Van also executive produced well over 200 other albums including 9 that were Grammy Award nominated.

His theatrical production credits include The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (Tony Award), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Tony Award nomination), Anastasia, Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette and Diablo Cody (Tony Award nomination), How to Dance In Ohio, The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, Matilda (Tony Award nomination), Evita (Tony Award nomination), Gore Vidal’s The Best Man (Tony Award nomination), Catch Me If You Can (Tony Award nomination), The Velocity of Autumn, Big Fish, Bonnie & Clyde, Chinglish, the Off-Broadway production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (2016) and ROOMS a rock romance and the national tours of Anastasia, Matilda, Cinderella, The Lightning Thief and more. He was also a producer of Master Class with Tyne Daly and the 2022 and 2023 productions of Bonnie & Clyde in London’s West End. Upcoming: Death Note, Wild, Goodbye New York, SMASH, Figaro, Little Dancer, Song of Bernadette.

He co-produced Broadway For Orlando’s “What The World Needs Now Is Love” to raise funds for the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida. The charity single was featured on NBC’s “Maya and Marty” and at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. He co-conceived and co-Executive Produced the anti-bullying single “I Have A Voice” featuring 70 Broadway kids from Matilda, School of Rock and more and co-produced the new Broadway United music video of “We Are The World”. He also co-conceived and produced From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert For Sandy Hook featuring 100 Broadway stars, a 40 piece orchestra and 300+ children from Newtown and From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert for Parkland, USA at the BB&T Center Arena in Sunrise, FL and co-produced the Emmy Award winning From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert For Orlando. He is also a co-producer of the feature film documentary “Midsummer in Newtown” which premiered as a Spotlight selection at Tribeca Film Festival. Van has several major film and television musicals in pre-production.

Full article available via Broadway World here.


CUTTING EDGE ACQUIRES MAJORITY STAKE IN WHITE STORK, THE PUBLISHING COMPANY OF UK COMPOSER TOM HOWE (Music Business Worldwide)

Cutting Edge Media Music (CEMM) has acquired a majority interest in White Stork, the publishing company of award-winning UK composer Tom Howe.

CEMM did not disclose the financial terms of the investment, although it said that the deal is aimed at expanding the White Stork business.

CEMM’s collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Tom Howe has produced original music for over 80 Emmy and BAFTA-winning dramas and documentaries, including shows such as Ted Lasso, The Great British Bake Off and Daisy Jones & The Six, as well as major motion pictures, such as Warner Bros. Wonder Woman and Legends of Tarzan.

As a songwriter, Howe has also written a number of international Top 40 hits. He most recently co-wrote the song Fought & Lost alongside Sam Ryder and Jamie Hartman that was featured in the penultimate episode of Ted Lasso’s final season.

“It’s great to be working with Cutting Edge Media Music and Tamsin Dove on this new venture. They both have so much experience and I’m hugely excited to see what we can accomplish together,” Howe said.

White Stork, which boasts studios in London and Los Angeles, will publish all of Tom Howe’s future work following the deal.

"This creative and strategic partnership brings Cutting Edge Media Music one step closer to its long-term goal of becoming the pre-eminent media music publisher and services provider in the world."

-Philip Moross, Cutting Edge Group

Tom Howe, White Stork

Cutting Edge Group founder and CEO Philip Moross added: “We are excited to be working with such a high-caliber talent as Tom Howe. This creative and strategic partnership brings Cutting Edge Media Music one step closer to its long-term goal of becoming the pre-eminent media music publisher and services provider in the world. I am thrilled to have Tamsin Dove on board leading the team, her expertise with leading international broadcasters as both licensor and licensee is a huge asset to our global teams.”

In addition to the stake sale between CEMM and White Stork, the pair also intend to form a joint venture led by Cutting Edge Chief Commercial Officer Tamsin Dove, who joined the company in September.

In her new role, Dove will lead bespoke music production and licensing for the group across CEMM’s London and LA offices and manage the diverse, hand-selected roster of award-winning composers.

Dove previously served as Head of Television for UK and APAC at global music publisher, Audio Network. In that role, she secured and managed deals with Amazon, BBC, ITV, C5, C4, Discovery, Disney, Turner, and Netflix. Dove has licensed music for major motion pictures like The 355, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, Logan, and successful TV shows including Married at First Sight, Upright, Emmerdale, Shetland, Four in a Bed, and Top of the Lake.

She has also worked closely with a number of musicians including; Rag’n’Bone Man, Tokio Myers, Maroon 5 and music legends Neil Diamond, The Proclaimers, and Earth, Wind & Fire.

“I am humbled and thrilled to be working with both Cutting Edge Media Group and Tom Howe and leading this new venture. By combining Cutting Edge’s growing high-caliber back catalogue, with the bespoke music services under Tom Howe’s helm, we are on track for becoming the leading full-service music provider internationally,” said Dove.

The acquisition of White Stork adds to CEMM’s extensive catalog of music from popular films and TV series, including Hollywood blockbusters such as The King’s Speech and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, as well as high-profile video games like Cyberpunk 2077.

These assets are available for licensing for media and brands through the White Stork team.

CEMM is a unit of Cutting Edge Group, which provides music for different forms of media including film, televisions, video games, advertising and Broadway across its publishing, label, services, and marketing verticals. It owns and controls the music IP in some of the most popular media properties and franchises globally.

CEMM acts as a financier, publisher, record label and has provided a range of music services to over 1,000 feature films, tv shows, musical theatre productions and video games, including such films and television shows including Stranger Things, Bridgerton, The King’s Speech, Drive, Star Trek: Discovery, Fury, John Wick, Sicario, Whiplash, Hacksaw Moonlight Ridge, and The Walking Dead, as well as Broadway shows like Matilda, The Color Purple, Anastasia, and My Fair Lady.

CEMM’s brands include Lakeshore Records (Soundtrack Label), Music.Film (film & TV music licensing platform), Broadway Records (musical theater label), Cutting Edge Music Publishing (music publisher), 12on12 (specialty vinyl), CEG Analytics (royalty tracking & analysis), and most recently, White Stork (custom music house).

The acquisition of White Stork adds to CEMM’s extensive catalog of music from popular films, TV series, and video games. These assets are available for licensing through the White Stork team.

CEMM, a division of Cutting Edge Group, specializes in music for various media platforms and operates as a financier, publisher, and record label. The company has provided music services to numerous feature films, TV shows, musical theater productions, and video games. Their brands include Lakeshore Records, Music.Film, Broadway Records, Cutting Edge Music Publishing, 12on12, CEG Analytics, and the recently acquired White Stork.

CEMM’s acquisition of White Stork follows its eight-figure deal with pop songwriter and producer Jamie Hartman in May and the purchase of a major film music catalog from First Score Music Ltd. in March.

The company secured $125 million for music publishing rights acquisitions in collaboration with affiliates of Blantyre Capital in 2022 and obtained an additional $100 million from banks led by Pinnacle Financial Partners in February 2023.

Full article available via Music Business Worldwide here.


CUTTING EDGE STRIKES EIGHT-FIGURE DEAL WITH POP SONGWRITER AND PRODUCER JAMIE HARTMAN (Music Business Worldwide)

UK-headquartered Cutting Edge Media Music (CEMM) has been one of the most active buyers of film and TV music rights over the past few years.

In 2022, it partnered with affiliates of London-based Blantyre Capital in a deal that secured $125 million for acquisitions of music publishing rights from composers who write music for film and TV.

With those funds now fully deployed, earlier this year CEMM secured another $100 million from banks led by Nashville-based Pinnacle Financial Partners.

Now CEMM is stepping into the world of pop music, striking a deal with prominent songwriter and producer Jamie Hartman, who’s written or co-written numerous hits for artists such as Lewis Capaldi, Celeste, Calvin Harris, Rag’n’Bone Man and the Backstreet Boys, among many others.

CEMM says it “will purchase the majority of Hartman’s back catalog royalties”, published through his deal with Reservoir Media, which includes hundreds of songs he’s written and collaborated on with artists including Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Calvin Harris, Kygo and Lewis Capaldi as well as songs for commercials, TV and film written with artists such as Carole King, Jennifer Hudson and Christina Aguilera.

MBW understands that CEMM has bought the majority of Hartman’s writers’ share. Hartman continues to be published by Reservoir.

The deal was done on Hartman’s behalf by Milk & Honey Music’s Peter Coquillard and Lucas Keller, Hartman’s longtime managers.

The deal “represents a key move by CEMM to expand its reach beyond primarily instrumental composers and engage strategically with songwriters in the pop realm and other genres to capitalize on unique opportunities advantageous to both parties,” CEMM said in a statement.

MBW understands that the deal tipped into the eight-figure realm.

Hartman’s work straddles the Top 40 music scene and film and TV scores. He co-wrote Rag’n’Bone Man’s 2016 mega-hit Human, as well as Rag’n’Bone Man’s collab with Calvin Harris, Giant.

He also co-wrote and co-produced the Backstreet Boys’ 2018 hit Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. More recently, he wrote two songs on Lewis Capaldi’s 2019 album Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent, and also has a cut on Heavenly Kind of State of Mind from Capaldi’s new album, Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent.

Elsewhere, he co-wrote and co-produced many of the songs on Celeste’s 2021 debut album, Not Your Muse, including Stop This Flame, which was chosen as the theme song for Sky Sports’ Premier League coverage, and also appeared in a Peloton ad.

Hartman’s film and TV credits include My Loyal Brave and True, from Disney’s Mulan, which was performed by Christina Aguilera; The Measure of a Man from 20th Century Studios’ The King’s Man, performed by FKA Twigs; and Here I Am Singing My Way Home, from the aretha Franklin biopic Respect, performed by Jennifer Hudson and Carole King.

In the wake of the deal, Hartman continues to have hits with the likes of the track Fought and Lost, co-written by Hartman and performed by Sam Ryder (which appeared in the penultimate episode of Apple TV+ hit comedy Ted Lasso), and with Dancing is Healing by Charlotte Plank, Rudimental, and Vibe Chemistry.

Hartman has won multiple BMI Pop Awards, Ivor Novello Awards, Brit Awards, and a Music Week Award.

“I am very proud of those songs, written over 30 years, and to have Cutting Edge echo that sentiment, and to be working on behalf of those songs alongside my long-term publishers Reservoir and their team, is fantastic,” Hartman said in a statement.

“This endeavor represents an exciting expansion of our company’s scope and we are honored to be working alongside the extraordinarily talented Jamie Hartman,” said Philip Moross, CEO of Cutting Edge Group, the parent company of CEMM.

Launched in the early 2000s, Cutting Edge operates as a financier, publisher, and record label. Its divisions include Lakeshore Records (a soundtrack label), Music.Film (a film and TV music licensing platform), Broadway Records (a musical theater label), Cutting Edge Music Publishing (a music publisher), 12on12 (specialty vinyl), White Stork (a custom music house) and CEG Analytics (royalty tracking & analysis).

It has so far provided a range of music services to over 1,000 feature films, TV shows, musical theater productions and video games, including the TV shows Stranger Things, Bridgerton, Star Trek: Discovery and The Walking Dead.

Films have included Drive, Fury, John Wick and Sicario, while major video games have included Sunset Overdrive, Assassins Creed Valhalla, Red Dead Redemption and Cyberpunk 2077. Its theatrical works have included such Broadway shows as Matilda, The Color Purple, Anastasia, and My Fair Lady.

Earlier this year, Cutting Edge announced a new joint venture with Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, parent company of Village Roadshow Pictures and Village Roadshow Television.

The deal covers all of VREG’s past and future music publishing assets, soundtrack album releases and music supervision services, as well as VREG’s music assets for film and scripted and unscripted television.

Among CEMM’s recent deals is the acquisition of a “major film music catalog” from UK-headquartered First Score Music Ltd., which included full master and publishing rights to more than 75 “premium” film scores.

Terms of the deal were undisclosed, but a source told MBW that the deal was worth in the high seven figures.

Tim Hegarty, CEMM’s Head of Mergers & Acquisitions, added: “We are thrilled to announce the acquisition of Jamie’s award-winning catalog, which bridges audio and visual media. We see a huge scope to build on Jamie’s existing reputation in film and TV, and look forward to partnering with his team on new opportunities in the future.

“This marks a new chapter for CEMM as we look to ally with world renowned songwriters who are looking to expand their profile in the motion picture industry.”

Music rights acquisitions have become a booming business in recent years, with some $5 billion in transactions in 2021 alone, and film and TV rights are a major part of that.

Full article available via Music Business Worldwide here.


Cutting Edge Acquires First Score Film Music Catalog (Billboard)

Financing and investment company Cutting Edge Media Music acquired the full music catalog of U.K.-based media company First Score Music. The acquisition gives Cutting Edge complete master and publishing rights to over 75 film scores, including original music rights to films from Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish‘s Imaginarium Productions. This includes Imaginarium’s upcoming animated version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, as well as its Taika Waititi-directed film Next Goal Wins with a score by Michael Giacchino.

The acquisition gives Cutting Edge complete master and publishing rights to over 75 film scores, including original music rights to films from Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish‘s Imaginarium Productions.

Philip Moross, Cutting Edge CEO

The catalog also includes scores by composers such as Carter Burwell, Christophe Beck, Hildur Guðnadóttir, David Newman and Rachel Portman for films including Sicario: Day of the Soldado; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Midway; and Greenland.

Full article available via Billboard here.


Cutting Edge Reveals Multimillion-Dollar Deal for First Score Music’s Catalog — Encompassing 75+ Film Scores (Digital Music News)

Last month, Cutting Edge Media Music (CEMM) announced that it had obtained $100 million in new financing and disclosed plans “to help give the next wave of film and TV composers the opportunity to monetize their catalogues.” Now, the company has acquired the catalog of First Score Music.

Cutting Edge Media Music unveiled the “multi-million dollar deal” with the UK’s First Score Music today, and the transaction is said to encompass both the master and publishing rights behind north of 75 film scores. Featured within the latter is the original music from several movies by Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish’s Imaginarium Productions, the forthcoming animated adaptation of Animal Farm among them, according to CEMM.

The Cutting Edge Group subsidiary – which operates a soundtrack arm called Lakeshore Records as well as a namesake publishing unit – likewise relayed that the buyout includes the scores of Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), Midway (2019), and STX-distributed Greenland (2020).

Additionally, Cutting Edge specified that the play extends to the score of Next Goal Wins. Directed by Taika Waititi (who also directed Thor: Love and Thunder and is married to singer-songwriter Rita Ora), Next Goal Wins is slated to debut this September.

In a statement, Cutting Edge Group founder and CEO Philip Moross acknowledged his ambitious vision for CEMM and the associated significance of today’s deal, indicating: “This purchase brings Cutting Edge Media Music closer to its long-term goal in becoming the pre-eminent media music publisher and services provider in the world.”

And in remarks of her own, longtime Cutting Edge Group COO Tara Finegan, who doubles as CEO of music-tech company CAAST, communicated: “Through CEMM and its divisions such as Lakeshore Records, CEMM can continue to invest in productions and provide a range of music services, including publishing the best original scores and releasing the best soundtracks.”

CEMM’s latest music-IP acquisition arrives as more than a few other companies, evidently unperturbed by rising rates and turbulence throughout the broader economy, are also continuing to inject capital into song rights.

Earlier today, AMR Songs bought the catalog of The Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian, while Mojo Music & Media three weeks back touted its purchase of a “trove of classic catalogs,” including the music IP of Duran Duran’s Warren Cuccurullo. Lastly, Reservoir one month ago scored a catalog agreement with Sonny Rollins, and Spirit Music Group owner Lyric Capital concluded February by detailing the close of its second, $800 million music royalty fund.

Full article available via Digital Music News here.


Cutting Edge Acquires Major Film Music Catalog From First Score Music in Multi-Million-Dollar Deal (Music Business Worldwide)

The market for copyrights belonging to composers for film and TV continues to heat up.

Just yesterday (March 22), Multimedia Music, a company that specializes in catalogs of film and TV music rights, raised an additional $100 million investment bringing the company’s total funds raised to date to $200 million.

Last month, UK-born Cutting Edge Media Music (CEMM) secured $100 million in financing from a group of banks led by Pinnacle Financial Partners to boost its cash reserves to invest in music for film, television, video games and more.

That new $100 million raise came after a year during which the company invested $125 million, raised in an initial round, to acquire film and TV music rights.

Now, CEMM has announced the acquisition of what it says is a ‘major film music catalog’ – from UK-based media company First Score Music Ltd.

CEMM says that the acquisition gives it full master and publishing rights to more than 75 “premium” film scores.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but a source tells MBW that the transaction was in the high seven figures.

The transaction includes master and publishing rights to a collection of film scores including the score for director Taika Waititi’s upcoming sports comedy-drama film Next Goal Wins starring Michael Fassbender, and the score for the upcoming animated version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm from Andy Serkis.

Next Goal Wins includes a score by Academy Award and Emmy-winner Michael Giacchino, who composed themes for Up, The Incredibles, The Batman and Lost.

These themes are just among the over “over 75 premium film scores that Cutting Edge is acquiring, expanding its catalog of media music.

"This purchase brings Cutting Edge Media Music closer to its long-term goal in becoming the pre-eminent media music publisher and services provider in the world."

-Philip Moross, Cutting Edge Group

“Imaginarium has a great creative and commercial relationship with Cutting Edge,” said Jonathan Cavendish of Imaginarium Productions, the producer of Serkis’ Animal Farm animation.

“It is incredibly important for us to have partners in the musical sphere who are as knowledgeable, creative and clever as Cutting Edge’s Philip Moross and Tara Finnegan.”

The deal will also see CEMM buying film scores by composers such as Carter Burwell, Christophe Beck, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Volker Bertelmann, John Debney, Benjamin Wallfisch, Andrew Lockington, David Newman, Rachel Portman, Mychael Danna, Craig Armstrong, David Buckley and Harald Kloser.

“This purchase brings Cutting Edge Media Music closer to its long-term goal in becoming the pre-eminent media music publisher and services provider in the world,” said Philip Moross, CEO and founder of Cutting Edge Group, CEMM’s parent company.

Cutting Edge Group COO Tara Finegan added: “Through CEMM and its divisions such as Lakeshore Records, CEMM can continue to invest in productions and provide a range of music services, including publishing the best original scores and releasing the best soundtracks.”

“We have been tracking the development of First Score Music for some time and are thrilled to bring this world class catalogue of independent film scores into the Cutting Edge Media Music portfolio,” added Tim Hegarty, head of mergers and acquisitions for Cutting Edge Group, who represented CEMM in the transaction.

The acquisition marks CEMM’s latest investment since raising $100 million from a group of banks led by Pinnacle Financial Partners last month. In 2022, CEMM invested $125 million in buying film and TV music rights.

Nearly a month ago, the company agreed to form a strategic music venture with Village Roadshow Entertainment Group (VREG), covering the latter’s past and future music publishing assets, soundtrack album releases and music supervision services.

The deals come as music rights companies double down on investments in copyrights for film and TV scores.

Shortly after CEMM announced its funding round, Multimedia Music, which also operates in the space, said it closed an eight-figure deal to acquire the music publishing and music master rights from the entire film music library of STX Entertainment.

The transaction includes music for film titles like Bad Moms, The Gentlemen, Den of Thieves, Greenland and The Foreigner and music from composers including Hans Zimmer, Cliff Martinez, Marcelo Zarvos, Hauschke, Chris Lennertz, Andrew Lockington, Clinton Shorter and Nicholas Britell.

Full article available via Music Business Worldwide here.


After Securing $100M To Buy Film and TV Music Rights, Cutting Edge Forms Strategic Venture with Village Roadshow Entertainment

Cutting Edge Media Music (CEMM), a division of Cutting Edge Group led by Philip Moross, has agreed to form a new strategic music venture with Village Roadshow Entertainment Group (VREG).

According to a press statement, the deal covers all of the latter company’s past and future music publishing assets, soundtrack album releases and music supervision services.

The deal also spans VREG’s music assets for film, scripted and unscripted television, according to CEMM.

VREG’s current film and TV titles include CINNAMON and MURDER CITY, part of its Black Noir Cinema initiative with Kevin Garnett’s Content Cartel and Fox’s free streaming platform, Tubi.

The assets also include the Capital One College Bowl hosted by Peyton and Cooper Manning, that recently aired its second season on NBC.

VREG claims to build “premier, content-rich businesses in the entertainment industry”. The company, which says that it “produces, acquires and delivers” IP, is the holding company of Village Roadshow Pictures and Village Roadshow Television.

Private equity firms Vine Alternative Investmentsand Falcon Investment Advisors acquired a controlling interest in Village Roadshow in 2017.

One of those firms, Vine, announced in 2020 that it had acquired the song catalog of Grammy award-winning and multi-platinum selling producer, songwriter and DJ, Calvin Harris, for an undisclosed fee.

Brian McNelis, head of Cutting Edge’s TV & video game soundtracks division Lakeshore Records, said the deal with Village Roadshow “is a privilege which allows us to utilize our expertise to build more robust, music-based opportunities that are mutually beneficial to both companies.”

McNelis will oversee the new venture alongside Lakeshore’s Eric Craig, who will provide music supervision and music department support.

VREG Chief Operating Officer Louis Santor will lead in implementing all aspects of the deal between both companies.

“We are thrilled to work with the company behind some of the most iconic films of the last twenty-five years and we look forward to scaling this new venture, focused on the music intersection of the Village Roadshow Entertainment Group conglomerate, together."

-Tara Finegan, Cutting Edge Group

Santor said, “Music plays an important role in building a story that connects with audiences across all mediums. We couldn’t think of better partners than the team at CEMM to oversee the implementation of such an important aspect to our film and TV slate and look forward to what’s to come.” 

UK-born CEMM serves as a financier, publisher and record label. It has so far provided a range of music services to more than 1,000 feature films, tv shows, musical theatre productions and video games and films and television shows like Stranger Things, Bridgerton, The King’s Speech, Drive, Star Trek: Discovery,” Fury, John Wick, Sicario, Whiplash, Hacksaw Moonlight Ridge, and The Walking Dead.

It has also provided music to Broadway shows such as Matilda, The Color Purple, Anastasia, and My Fair Lady; and triple AAA games like Sunset Overdrive, Assassins Creed Valhalla, Red Dead Redemption and Cyberpunk 2077.

Tara Finegan, COO of Cutting Edge Group, commented on the partnership with VREG, saying: “We are thrilled to work with the company behind some of the most iconic films of the last twenty-five years and we look forward to scaling this new venture, focused on the music intersection of the Village Roadshow Entertainment Group conglomerate, together.”

The partnership with VREG comes just two weeks after CEMM secured $100 million in financing from a group of banks led by Pinnacle Financial Partners. 

The funding came over a year after Cutting Edge Music teamed up with affiliates of London-based investment firm Blantyre Capital to acquire music publishing rights owned by composers who write music for film and TV. CEMM and Blantyre affiliates had committed an initial $125 million to the plan.

Full article available via Music Business Worldwide here.


Cutting Edge Media Music, A Division Of ‘Stranger Things’ And ‘John Wick’ Music Services Firm, Lands $100M In New Financing (Deadline)

Cutting Edge Media Music, a division of a firm that has provided music services for films, TV series and video games including John Wick, Stranger Things and Red Dead Redemption, has secured $100 million in new financing.

Nashville-based Pinnacle Financial Partners, which already had a relationship with Cutting Edge, led a consortium of financial backers.

CEMM, a division of the London-based Cutting Edge Group, is a financing and investment company focused on music for film, television, video games and other areas. Its parent company handles music publishing, record label and music services for films, TV shows, musical theatre productions and video games.

“I look forward to our partnership with Pinnacle to help give the next wave of film and TV composers the opportunity to monetize their catalogues,” Cutting Edge Group CEO Philip Moross said in a press release.

Andy Moats, the director of music, sports and entertainment for Pinnacle, said CEMM’s “deep understanding of the film/TV composer universe aligns with our mission to honor and support creative communities.”

Cutting Edge Group’s origins date back to 2008, and the firm has grown by exploring new financial models in the area of music for screens. The traditional setup of soundtrack sales has been turned upside down by streaming and other changes to the landscape. Cutting Edge’s music services credits include more than 1,000 films, TV series, musical theater productions and video games. Among them are Stranger Things, Bridgerton, The King’s Speech, Moonlight, Drive, Star Trek: Discovery, Fury, John Wick, Sicario, Whiplash, Hacksaw Ridge and The Walking Dead; Broadway shows such as Matilda, The Color Purple, Anastasia and My Fair Lady; and video games such as Sunset Overdrive, Assassins Creed Valhalla, Red Dead Redemption and Cyberpunk 2077.

Full article available via Deadline here.


Cutting Edge Secures Another $100M To Buy Film and TV Music Rights (Music Business Worldwide)

UK-born Cutting Edge Media Music (CEMM) has secured $100 million in financing from a group of banks led by Pinnacle Financial Partners.

Pinnacle Financial Partners, based in Nashville, manages nearly $2 billion in entertainment-related accounts with clients including artists, songwriters, international music label and publishing businesses, film and TV studios, and a slew of sports properties and other entities.

Cutting Edge’s capital raise follows last year’s news that it had partnered with London-based investment firm Blantyre Capital to commit $125 million to acquire film and TV music rights. Cutting Edge says that the funds from last year’s round “has been fully deployed”.

The new funds, announced today (February 14), will bolster CEMM’s cash reserves as it invests in music for film, television, video games and more.

“The value of music assets has exploded in the past five years,” added Philip Moross. “I look forward to our partnership with Pinnacle to help give the next wave of film and TV composers the opportunity to monetize their catalogues.”

CEMM is part of the wider Cutting Edge Group, a financing and investment company that also operates other units that provide music publishing, record label and other music services to feature films, TV shows, musical theatre productions and video games.

Led by founder and CEO Philip Moross, the group is known for providing music services to TV shows like Stranger Things, Bridgerton, The King’s Speech, Moonlight, Drive, Star Trek: Discovery, Fury, John Wick, Sicario, Whiplash, Hacksaw Ridge, and The Walking Dead.

Cutting Edge also provides music to broadway shows like Matilda, The Color Purple, Anastasia, and My Fair Lady; and triple-A video games such as: Sunset Overdrive, Assassins Creed Valhalla, Red Dead Redemption and Cyberpunk 2077.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn Of Ragnarok won the first Grammy Award For Best Score Soundtrack For Video Games/Interactive Media at the recent 2023 GRAMMYs.

Commenting on the financing led by Pinnacle, Moross noted that “CEMM has recently deployed over $100 million on music publishing rights owned by composers who write music for film and TV.”

“The value of music assets has exploded in the past five years,” added Moross. “I look forward to our partnership with Pinnacle to help give the next wave of film and TV composers the opportunity to monetize their catalogues.”

Andy Moats, the Director of music, sports and entertainment for Pinnacle Financial Partners, said their investment in Cutting Edge is in support of the latter’s latest venture.

“Their deep understanding of the film/TV composer universe and artist-friendly approach aligns with our mission to honor and support creative communities throughout the world,” Moats added.

“It’s been a privilege to work closely with so many world class composers on this initiative. We continue to be excited about this space and we are eager to make this new round of financing available to the composer community,” said Tim Hegarty, head of merger and acquisitions for Cutting Edge Group.

Cutting Edge’s other business units include music publisher Cutting Edge Music Publishing, film, TV & video game soundtracks division Lakeshore Records, musical theatre soundtracks unit Broadway Records, licensing platform Music.Film and custom music house White Stork.

The company also owns wellness label Myndstream, home to artists who have collectively amassed billions of streams across Spotify, Apply, Pandora and Amazon, Cutting Edge says.

In 2018, Cutting Edge-led investor group Film Score Records sold movie soundtrack and score label Varèse Sarabande to Concord Music. The deal saw Cutting Edge becoming a client of Concord Music, which started providing global distribution, marketing, and label services to Cutting Edge.

Full article available via Music Business Worldwide here.


Has This Musician Found the Cure For Insomnia? (The Times)

The synth pioneer Chuck Wild wrote for Michael Jackson and Max Headroom. Then he became a sleep music superstar.

Chuck Wild is, in a way, just what you would expect from a man whose job is to put people to sleep. The 76-year-old sleep music star shows up at the airport near his Los Angeles-area home in a beige jumper, beige shorts, beige socks and beige shoes. “How was the flight?” he asks in a raspy voice with a wide smile, looking very much the part of the kindly grandfather.

But Wild, as the stage name implies, has lived a life that could not be further removed from what he does now, pumping out auditory Ambien for the sleep-deprived. To wit, when we climb into his very sensible Honda and head towards his two-bedroom bungalow on a quiet dead-end street, he asks that his city remain nameless. He’s had stalkers, you see.

These were not superfans of Liquid Mind, the name of his one-man band that has produced titles such as Breathe in Me, Serenity or A Gentle Rain in My Soul. Rather, the unwanted attention stemmed from his many years working with Michael Jackson. Wild recounts, in his best rendition of the high-pitched Jackson voice, what the king of pop told him after hiring him back in the 1990s: “He said, ‘Chuck, I want you to make sounds the human ear has never heard before.’ ”

But that is a whole other chapter in the extraordinary life story of Wild, lord of the slumber. These days, sleep is sexy. Meditation apps such as Calm and Headspace have built gigantic businesses by “appifying” sleep aids and meditation. Wild, a prolific keyboardist, producer and composer, has been at it longer than virtually anyone, going back to the late 1980s.

His tracks often top ten minutes and are not so much songs as long-held chords that bleed one into the next — a skill he honed playing the church organ as a child in Kansas City. His “zero beat” music may be the closest human approximation to whale song or, as Steve Perry, the former lead singer of Journey, once put it, “No vocals, no drums, just ethereal synths.” Perry listened to Liquid Mind almost exclusively during a period of personal struggle in which he had fallen “out of love with music”.

Wild, a former rocker, has quietly turned himself, over decades, into one of the world’s most commercially successful sleep musicians. He has released 18 studio albums. His music is played in hospices and hospitals, and is studied by sleep experts around the world. Liquid Mind ranks perennially at the top, or near it, of the Billboard New Age charts. On the American music streaming service Pandora, his tracks have racked up 1.5 billion listens. “My music is sedative,” Wild says proudly. “It helps people — and it helps me.”

But it is only now that Wild’s moment may have truly arrived. A growing body of clinical studies has linked lack of sleep to a cascade of health problems, from increased risk of heart disease and diabetes to higher rates of industrial and traffic accidents. The National Institutes of Health, America’s top medical authority, reckons that more than a fifth of Americans — almost 70 million people — have sleep disorders, describing it as a “serious public health concern”. Germany’s public health system last month became the first in the world to approve a digital sleep improvement programme, under which “treatments” such as downloads of relaxing music and lifestyle coaching are reimbursed in the same way that pills are.

In short, the science of sleep is finally catching up with the fecund mind of Wild — and the composer finds himself at the centre of an ambitious attempt to transform his music into medicine. Philip Moross, the 61-year-old British entrepreneur behind Cutting Edge Media Music, a television and film music label that has produced the scores for hits such as The King’s Speech and Stranger Things, snapped up Real Music, the record label to which Liquid Mind is signed, in 2019. His plan: to put Wild’s music through a battery of scientific trials to prove that it is, in fact, as good or better than a sleeping pill.

Moross’s son, Freddie, 28, runs Myndstream, the Cutting Edge wellness label under which Liquid Mind sits. “When you look at music that’s being relied upon in healthcare situations, it’s not regulated,” he says. “There’s no FDA [Food and Drug Administration] stamp saying this is music that should appear in surgeries. We want to try to accomplish this. What better place to start than with Chuck?”

Wild’s conversion to the art of the soporific did not come by choice. It was, instead, the product of an acute personal crisis. Liquid Mind was his salvation. “I almost killed myself,” Wild says matter-of-factly. He was not suicidal. He just almost worked himself to death.

For a time Wild lived the rock’n’roll dream. He was the keyboardist for Missing Persons, a rock band heavy on mascara, big hair and tight trousers; the lead singer, Dale Bozzio, was famed for her coconut-shell bras. They were regulars at the fabled LA music club Whisky a Go Go and played to crowds of tens of thousands. “We warmed up for David Bowie at the Us festival,” Wild says. “It was incredible.”

Wild rubbed shoulders with legends including the Allman Brothers and Quincy Jones, scored an Emmy-winning television show, wrote music for the Pointer Sisters and, of course, collaborated with the biggest pop star in history. For a boy from Missouri who showed up in LA “with $300 in my pocket”, it was the stuff of fairytales. But like any tale of Hollywood fame, it could not last. “All my music was fast. Everything I did was fast,” he recalls. “I couldn’t do anything that was slow.”

In 1988 Wild was hired to score the final season of Max Headroom, a quintessentially 1980s television show created by Channel 4 and sold into America. For a brief moment the programme, centred on the “computer-generated” character Max, captured the zeitgeist and Wild was working 20-hour days. He guzzled industrial-strength coffee and for months captured only fleeting moments of sleep. One day he found himself struggling to breathe. “I thought I was having a heart attack,” he recalls.

A friend threw him in his Porsche and sped to the nearest doctor. It was not a heart attack, the doctor told him, but a panic attack. “I’ll never forget this in my whole life,” Wild recalls. “In one hand, the doctor held up meditation instructions. In the other, it was a medication prescription. He said, ‘The two of these — it’s only one letter different. And they’re both as effective for treating anxiety. Your choice.’ ”

Wild took both, but neither helped immediately. Something in him had broken.

As a gay man in the 1980s, Wild had watched friend after friend die from Aids. “I stopped counting at 65,” he says, welling up. “We would go there and sit at these funerals, the group of gays. At some, the parents would look at us and tell us we needed to leave. None of us cried. I didn’t cry for four years.”

That first panic attack was like a dam breaking. He would have several a day, rendering him a barely functional hermit. “I was insane,” he says. “When you are having a panic attack, you’re not very rational. Everything was jerky movements. It was, like, ‘I gotta eat really quick, I got to do this really quick.’ ”

As he slowly emerged from the fog, via meditation and therapy, his psychologist gave him an ultimatum: no more therapy until he took a single day for himself.

So Wild booked one night in a motel on the coast, ventured out to a rock and watched the waves break. He was 42 years old and had been in Los Angeles for nearly a decade, but had never gone to the beach until that moment. “All of a sudden I was feeling very relaxed and I thought, ‘What’s going on?’ I was sitting there and I said to myself, ‘I wonder if it’s the sound of the ocean? Maybe the sound of the liquid is relaxing my mind.’ ” he says. “Liquid Mind was born out of pain. It was born out of sleep deprivation. It was lemonade from lemons.” That was in 1988.

Walk into Wild’s one-storey, two-bedroom home and “cocoon” comes to mind. It is the middle of the day but all the blinds are closed. Soundproofing covers the doors. The windows are quadruple-paned — so as not to bother the neighbours. It is quiet and clean. The fridge is sparsely stocked: an unmistakable sign of Wild’s bachelorhood. This is not entirely by choice, he says. “At a certain point, I just decided to stop trying. All my boyfriends died.”

His living room is functionally the “studio”. It includes a grand piano piled high with papers and computers, two banks of keyboards, a central sound-engineering console and at least four sets of speakers, each with distinct characteristics. Wild still works a gruelling schedule — up to 12 hours a day. A single album can take a year to produce, not least because he and his co-producer Jonathan, a university student, can only work on the actual music for a few hours at a time before one of them conks out.

Wild plays all the instruments and then painstakingly mixes them together so the chords blend seamlessly. “In music therapy you want to avoid what they call an ‘arousal response’. You don’t want to do anything that attracts attention,” he says. Why all the speakers? “Every speaker gives you a different message. Most engineers learn one set of speakers and they do brilliant work. I do this because I know that people listen to my music on ghetto blasters, on headsets, on telephones. I want it to sound equally good everywhere.”

There are plenty of studies that have shown music to be beneficial: for babies, for insomniacs, for students, for older adults. Indeed the practice of music therapy, for sleep and other therapeutic purposes, has been around for decades. If you count Tibetan monks, who famously use chanting to slow their heartbeats, it has been around for centuries. But now that sleep is “a thing”, both among public health officials and in popular culture, there is renewed urgency to find solutions. Sleep has been transformed into a metric to be tracked — by your phone, your smartwatch or fitness tracker.

At Myndstream, Moross has partnered with SleepScore Labs, a maker of sleep analysis devices, to carry out a longitudinal study of people with sleep disorders. Their patterns will be monitored for three weeks without intervention and then they will be exposed to Wild’s music. The study will also test alternative sleep music to see whether Wild’s outperforms.

This is critical. The dawn of so-called “generative” artificial intelligence has led to an explosion in computer-generated tracks. Scroll through Spotify or Apple Music and they are chock-full of sleep songs pumped out by nameless computer programs. Tracks often clock in at just longer than 30 seconds — the minimum length to trigger a payout by the platforms. “The question when we bought this catalogue,” Moross says, “was whether AI would overtake ambient music. We took a pretty heavy bet that actually, you will never replace human creation.”

Wild’s music education started aged four, when he was diagnosed with Perthes disease, a hip condition that, in 1953, was treated by a year of bed rest followed by another year in a leg brace. Wild’s parents hired a caretaker who also happened to be a pianist. Every day she would carry him to the piano and teach him how to play.

He eventually got back on his feet, but stuck with the lessons through his teenage years. At church, he convinced the organist to let him sit with her during services and eventually to play. By the time he went to university, the Vietnam draft was plucking healthy young men from the population in their thousands and sending them off to fight in the jungle. Wild’s father, a former US army colonel, told him to join the ROTC, a university programme that offered part-time training and allowed cadets to enter military service at a higher rank. Wild spent four years in the navy, where he served as an admiral’s aide. It was in the military that he first felt an acute sense of danger due to his sexuality. “I knew I was gay at the time, and being gay in the navy is a big no-no,” he says. “I had seen all these people get court-martialled and dishonourably discharged for being gay.”

When he returned to Kansas City, he fulfilled a promise to work at his father’s insurance company but also started playing in cover bands at night. After a couple of years he went on the road and then into the music business full time. And then, eventually, to total burnout.

It was Michael Jackson who helped launch his new life. After his beachfront revelation, Wild had started to work on his “slow music” and, at first, it was a labour of love. “By 1992 I was giving away hundreds of cassettes,” he says. “I just thought, ‘This music is helping me.’ I used to listen to it 24 hours a day at home.” No one, however, was paying for Liquid Mind music back then.

He taught music to get by, but didn’t make anywhere near enough to start his own label. An industry friend told him he’d need $150,000 to get “Chuck Wild Records” off the ground.

Then, in 1994, Wild got a call from a producer friend who said he was working with “the Glove”, as Jackson was known. “He called up and said, ‘Michael wants you to make some of those great sounds like you did on Max Headroom.’ ” So he got to work. Wild hired a team of three people and sent them out across southern California, tape recorders in hand, to record hours and hours of ambient sounds.

Wild would then engineer the results into unique clips, drive to whichever studio Jackson might be recording at and play him his manufactured audio. It was painstaking work, for which he was paid handsomely. A few of his sounds made it into Jackson’s 1995 album HIStory, but he couldn’t be sure how many. “I never listened to the album,” he says. “I have this thing about not listening to my own music — except in the early days, when I felt it was saving my life.”

Over four years Jackson paid Wild roughly $150,000 — the Liquid Mind nest egg. Wild recalls: “I said, ‘Michael, you know it’s your money that financed Liquid Mind?’ And he put his hand up to his chest and said, ‘That makes me feel good.’ ”

Today, at 76, Wild remains a man in a hurry. He estimates he still works 12 hours a day, but it is different now. “Although my routine is a lot of hours, I’m also doing work I love. It’s not stressful to me,” he says. “The [album] titles represent my life journey.” These titles reflect the soothing nature of the content, helping listeners to tap into a world of soporific calm. The initial Liquid Mind release, Ambience Minimus in 1994, was followed by albums including Dream, Deep Sleep and Relaxing Rain & Ocean Mixes.

After spending the best part of the day with Wild, he insists on driving me back to the airport. He doesn’t put on any music, and certainly not his — but not because of his aversion to listening to his own work. “Please make sure this is part of whatever you print,” he says. “You never, ever listen to Liquid Mind when you’re driving. It makes people sleepy. It’s music as medicine, you know. It needs to be FDA-regulated. I wish they would.”

They just might.

Full article available here via the Sunday Times.