Japan-based music company Avex Group (often referred to as the country’s fourth major) has expanded into North America with the launch of Avex USA, led by the President Naoki Osada.
Avex USA will house three core business divisions, Avex USA Publishing, the Avex USA label SELENE, and the ‘Future of Music Investment Fund’.
Avex USA will be headquartered at a newly-opened Avex House in West Hollywood, a 6,500 square foot space housing four studios and production facilities, which the company says has already hosted sessions “for many A-list recording artists”.
Avex says that its Future of Music Fund, led by Avex USA President and music industry veteran Naoki Osada and Vice President, Head of Finance Ryusuke (Ryan) Kamada (a former JP Morgan Investment Banking exec), was set up to invest in what it describes as “cutting edge music related tech startups that are creating new IP, music experiences and revenue models”.
The fund has already made early investments in WaveXR, which also attracted investment from Scooter Braun and Justin Bieber, and has hosted virtual streams with The Weeknd.
Other companies it has invested in so far include ‘virtual artist record label’ Spirit Bomb/Strangeloop studios, which designed the visual for a recently-launched NFT for The Weeknd, and Endel, named as one of Apple’s ‘best apps’ of 2020.
Formed in 1988, Avex started as an independent dance music label and evolved to become what it says is the largest entertainment company in Japan.
The company’s business spans across music, artist and talent management, concerts, events, merchandising, fanclubs, anime, game, and a music and video subscription service.
Avex was reported to be downsizing in its home country in November due to the pandemic.
SELENE, the Avex USA record label, is led by newly hired Lucas Thomashow, former Head of Music at Brat TV and previously Google.
SELENE’s first signing, Zach Hood, has grown to nearly 1 million monthly listeners in under two months, securing editorial playlist placements with Spotify, Apple and Amazon.
The label has also signed Colorado artist DIRTYXAN and 18 year old singer/songwriter Sophie Holohan, whose debut single will be released in May.
Additionally, Avex USA’s publishing division holds stakes in Justin Bieber’s No.1 song Peaches, and previous Billboard Global No.1, Cardi B’s WAP feat. Megan Thee Stallion, in addition to hits by Ariana Grande such as Positions, thank u, next, and 7 Rings.
The publishing division will be led by new hires Christy Saguanpong, VP of Publishing Administration, formerly of Defend Music, and Andrew Hawthorne, VP of Publishing A&R, who joins from Primary Wave.
Elsewhere, Saguanpong and Hawthorne revealed today that Avex USA Publishing has entered into a joint venture agreement with S10 Entertainment that will see the companies jointly sign and develop writers and producers.
Through the partnership, Avex USA announced the signing of Bernard ‘Harv’ Harvey and RIAA Certified Multi-Platinum Producer Cxdy of Internet Money.
These new signings sit alongside Avex USA’s existing publishing deals with Brian Michael Cox and Patrick J. Que Smith, amongst others.
Avex USA Publishing clients have also enjoyed placements for some of Japan-based artists such as Kumi Koda, EXILE Shokichi and Elly from J Soul Brothers Ⅲ.
“We think Avex can bring a fresh perspective to the US market and deliver real value for our partners.”
Naoki Osada, Avex USA
Avex USA President Naoki Osada, said: “We think Avex can bring a fresh perspective to the US market and deliver real value for our partners.
“Avex USA’s new team and structure uniquely places music, tech and financial thinking under one roof.
“We strongly believe that the future lies in investing in artists, opportunities and executives that can create new hybrid models to unlock new value and experiences for consumers.”
“Naoki and his new team’s creativity and vision are catapulting the Avex business in the US and we are proud to be developing and signing such amazing talent with them.”
Josh Hallbauer, S10 Entertainment
Josh Hallbauer, VP & Head of Publishing for S10 Entertainment, added: “Naoki and his new team’s creativity and vision are catapulting the Avex business in the US and we are proud to be developing and signing such amazing talent with them.”
“It’s a really exciting time to be launching a label with Avex. We’re focused on the exploration and expansion of music and culture that authentically connects with this generation.”
Lucas Thomashow, Avex USA
Lucas Thomashow, said: “It’s a really exciting time to be launching a label with Avex.
“We’re focused on the exploration and expansion of music and culture that authentically connects with this generation.
“There’s a void in the market for developing, supporting and breaking the careers of impactful young artists. Artists can build and reach consumers through a myriad of new channels.
“We’ve been able to enjoy success quickly, which I believe stems from building new rules in A&R and marketing to meet the demands of the most progressive and disruptive generation.
Last month, live music giant AEG Presents and Avex Entertainment formed AEGX, a joint partnership which the companies say will ‘create unique international opportunities in both artist development and live entertainment’.Music Business Worldwide