Universal Music Group (UMG) has struck what it calls an expansive, long-term partnership with superstar artist, The Weeknd.
UMG says that as part of the agreement, Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) will administer The Weeknd’s songwriting catalog and all his future works, “in a new long-term deal, upon expiration of his existing commitment”.
For many years, The Weeknd’s publishing rights have been administered by Kobalt, but that deal now looks set for expiry at an unspecified date in the future.
The wide-ranging deal announced today (April 28) also builds on the relationship between The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye), and UMG’s Republic Records, which has been his label partner since 2012 and which, UMG says, will remain his label partner for future recorded music releases.
The Weeknd owns his own recording copyrights via The Weeknd XO Inc. (aka XO) – the company he runs with his long-term friend and manager, Wassim ‘SAL’ Slaiby.
According to credits on streaming services, these XO recordings are then distributed and “marketed by” Republic Records, which has been XO’s partner for around 10 years.
Discussing that relationship with Republic in an MBW interview last year, Slaiby said: “Monte and Avery [Lipman] are very special to us. We’ve been together for 10 years, and it’s a relationship built on success, respect, and the same vision.”
In addition to the publishing and recorded music elements of the new partnership, UMG says that its merchandise company Bravado will work with The Weeknd & XO “to expand and develop global merchandising, branding, ecommerce and retail licensing opportunities around future projects and releases”.
The new agreement, which UMG says ‘”marks the beginning of a new era of expanded global collaboration between The Weeknd, XO and UMG”, also covers future audiovisual projects in collaboration with Republic Records and UMG.
According to UMG/Vivendi filings, for recorded music, The Weeknd was UMG’s biggest artist of 2020 in terms of global revenue generation. He was also UMG’s fourth biggest global artist on this basis in 2021.
His hit, Save Your Tears, was recently named as 2021’s best-selling global digital single by the IFPI, matching the feat achieved by Blinding Lights in 2020, and marking the first time any artist has won this award twice.
The Weeknd’s most recent album Dawn FM, released in January 2022 through XO/Republic Records, broke the Billboard Global 200 chart record, with 24 songs charting in its debut week, the most ever by any solo male artist.
He also holds the record for the longest-charting song in Billboard history, with Blinding Lights achieving 90 weeks on the Hot 100 chart.
The Weeknd has sold more than 75 million albums.
“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.”
Sir Lucian Grainge, Universal Music Group
Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman & CEO, Universal Music Group, said: “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.
“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.”
“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.”
Wassim ‘SAL’ Slaiby, SALXCO
Wassim ‘SAL’ Slaiby – Founder, CEO SALXCO | XO Records, said: “Over a decade together says it all.
“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.”
“Abel is the consummate 21st century artist and global superstar who continues to break down creative barriers with his genre-bending repertoire.”
Monte Lipman, Republic Records
Monte Lipman, Chairman & CEO, Republic Records, said: “Abel is the consummate 21st century artist and global superstar who 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.”
Jody Gerson, Universal Music Publishing Group
Jody Gerson, Chairman & CEO, Universal Music Publishing Group said: “The Weeknd is a world-class, boundary breaking artist and I couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome him and Sal to 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.”Music Business Worldwide