Warner Chappell expands JV with Sweden-based Lilly Raye Music, strikes new partnerships with Tommy Brown, Parx Publishing

Edward Matthew and Lars Karlsson, WCM’s MD of the Nordics, Germany, Switzerland and Austria

Warner Chappell Music has announced what it says is a “significant expansion” to its joint venture with Lilly Raye Music, the management company and publisher founded by US music executive Edward Matthew.

Lilly Raye Music, based in Stockholm, Sweden, has worked with Warner Chappell Music on creative collaborations between the Nordics, the UK and the US.

As the companies expand their JV, Matthew is now taking up an official position as Consultant to Warner Chappell Music.

WCM says that the exec will work closely with Lars Karlsson, WCM’s MD of the Nordics, Germany, Switzerland and Austria; Petter Walthinsen, WCM’s Head of A&R for the Nordics; Shani Gonzales, WCM’s Head of International A&R and UK MD; and Ryan Press, WCM’s President, North America.

He will continue to run Lilly Raye Music jointly with A&R Manager Justin Martinez. Matthew, originally from Boston, got his start in artist management by working with the likes of Jay Sean, Louis Bell and Sebastian Mikael.

The expansion of the companies’ JV includes a creative strategic partnership with Parx Publishing, owned by Tayla Parx, who is also signed as a songwriter to Warner Chappell Music in the US.

Parx Publishing and the JV have already jointly signed four writers, including Albin Tengblad, Emelie Walcott, Gustav Landell and Oliver Frid.

Commenting on the deal, Matthew said that, “Tayla is not only one of the best songwriters in the world but is also a true visionary”.

He added: “She understands creatives, she understands the global market and can export music, so it was a no brainer to bring her in on the business side of thing and do a deal with Parx Publishing. We’ve ended up managing half of Parx Publishing’s roster which includes a number of key writers and producers in Sweden.”

In a separate move, the JV has struck a deal with Grammy-nominated producer Tommy Brown, the founder of Champagne Therapy Music Group, that will see them jointly develop writers’ careers.

The first signing to their joint roster is Sweden-based writer, singer, mastering engineer and producer Pontus Kalm, who releases his own music as part of the duo GAMMAL, and has also worked with artists and writers such as A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, Afrojack, BTS, ITZY, LE SSERAFIM, NCT 127 and TXT.

Writers and producers signed by the JV have already worked on No.1 albums in the US, UK and Sweden, including Ariana Grande’s Positions and Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia (The Moonlight Edition). They also saw success by securing the UK No.1 single with Little Mix’s Sweet Melody.

“Tommy Brown is an expert when it comes to developing songwriters to build hits for global stars such as Ariana Grande, Blackpink, BTS and Justin Bieber,” said Matthew of the deal with Tommy Brown.

Additionally, the JV has signed a new deal with Straynané, who Warner Chappell describes as “one of the most celebrated producers in Swedish hip-hop”.

He has worked with artists including Adel, Aden x Asme, Dree Low and Einár, producing songs that have racked up more than one billion streams in Sweden alone.  He was awarded Producer of the Year at the 2021 Swedish MPA Awards.

WCM says that, via the JV, Straynané has already participated in writing sessions with the likes of Nova Wav, Tayla Parx and XO’s DannyBoyStyles.

“Ed and Justin’s approach completely chimes with the global strategy we’re pursuing at Warner Chappell Music.”

Guy Moot, Warner Chappell Music

Commenting on the expansion of the JV, Warner Chappell Music’s Co-Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Guy Moot said: “Ed and Justin’s approach completely chimes with the global strategy we’re pursuing at Warner Chappell Music.

“And partnering with Tayla Parx and Tommy Brown to sign new talent is an amazing way of expanding our relationship with Lilly Raye. Our partnership has already yielded chart-topping albums and singles, and I’m sure more will follow.”

“Stockholm is a key global hub for songwriting.  We’re already helping creatives cross boundaries and we’re set to do even more in the future.”

Ed Matthew and Justin Martinez, Lilly Raye Music

Ed Matthew and Justin Martinez said: “Stockholm is a key global hub for songwriting.  We’re already helping creatives cross boundaries and we’re set to do even more in the future.

“We want to thank Lars, Ryan and Shani at Warner Chappell who from day one got our vision of marrying Swedish technical brilliance with the most popping artists out of the US, UK and elsewhere.

“Now we’re super excited to be collaborating with creative stars such as Tayla Parx and Tommy Brown to find and develop even more new talent.”

“Ed and Justin are two brilliant creative execs who came from the US and built a successful business here in Sweden because they understand our culture and music scene.”

Lars Karlsson, Warner Chappell Music

Lars Karlsson added: “Ed and Justin are two brilliant creative execs who came from the US and built a successful business here in Sweden because they understand our culture and music scene.

“They’re also amazing at connecting talent from the Nordics with some of the most happening artists from around the world.  We’re delighted to be writing this new chapter together.”

MBW caught up with Lars Karlsson, Warner Chappell Music’s Managing Director for the Nordics, Germany, Switzerland and Austria, and Lilly Raye Music’s Ed Matthew, about the expanded JV, and their predictions for the songwriter and publishing landscape in Sweden…

How did the Chappell/Lilly Raye Music joint venture first come about and why have you decided to expand it?

Ed Matthew: The joint venture first started as a conversation with Ryan Press. I originally knew Ryan from my time in the US and from running Lilly Raye as a management company.

I then moved to Sweden and started having a lot of success with Swedish writers and producers, landing No.1s and global hits. Ryan introduced me to Guy [Moot], Carianne [Marshall], Shani [Gonzales] and Lars [Karlsson] and I saw what a great company Warner Chappell Music was. We started working together and had a great run of success, so it made perfect sense to further expand our partnership.

Lars Karlsson: We struck up a great working relationship, with Eddie and Justin moving into our office here in Stockholm. They really became friends of the family. We started to develop an increasing number of projects together and knew we could do even more given our shared approach to the creative process and our complementary networks and connections.

What are your plans and goals for the JV this year?

EM: We want to achieve more global success and hit records, and really want to focus on building a stronger presence in the Asian market. We’ve enjoyed a great run in our first term with Warner Chappell and ultimately we want to continue that with big global records, while continuing to have a massive presence domestically. With Straynané we’ve dominated the Swedish rap market and we want to continue that success and help propel him onto the global stage.

LK: I just want to echo what Eddie said about Straynané. He’s a massive talent who was conquered the Swedish market, and we know we can help him go truly global.

What do you look for in the producers and songwriters that you work with?

EM: I look for work ethic and ambition. Someone that is willing to be coached and developed, wants to listen and learn and is passionate about what they do with a clear vision for themselves.

LK: And I think a key thing is that they want to build an international career. That doesn’t just mean in the US and UK. As Eddie said, we’ve got a real focus on Asia this year, and we’re seeing an increasing number of Swedish writers have success with K-Pop collaborations. There are also many opportunities across Europe, particularly in big markets such as Germany.

How competitive is it in the publishing sector in terms of signing songwriters/producers in Sweden?

EM: Sweden is an artist/writer development country. Sweden has a huge history of developing talent early on, so I find it’s less competitive in signing established names and more about finding someone with raw talent and working with them to craft their skills to become world-class writers and producers.

LK: I agree with Eddie. There are fewer chequebook signings here, but an intense competition to find and develop younger writers who’ve got the potential to tap into global opportunities.

Sweden has a long history of being home to some of the world’s top songwriters and producers. To what does Sweden owe its success in songwriting and production?

EM: Sweden is a beautiful country that supports the arts and its creatives. From the early stages of a writer’s career there is an opportunity to learn. And then you look at its founding fathers – ABBA, Max Martin etc. – and the country can’t help but feel inspired. Young creatives have some of the most globally successful artists and writers ever to look up to, and naturally that will give them hope and a sense that anything is possible.

LK: And I’d definitely add the name Denniz Pop to that list. He helped develop Max Martin’s career and so many of today’s creatives were inspired by their success. We’re a small country, where such success is well noted. We used to talk about the ‘Björn Borg Effect’. He was such a brilliant tennis player, he inspired a generation to take up the sport. In music, we’re seeing the ‘Max Martin Effect’.

What creative trends are you seeing in Sweden’s songwriting community currently and how is that being reflected in terms of the artists Swedish writers and producers are working with globally?

EM: Melody travels and is a global language – and Swedes have been dominating in melody for so long. They are still creating melody and these days that transpires into K-Pop, dance music and continues to create big UK and US hits. In a nutshell, Swedish writers and producers will always be in demand because they conquer melody.

LK: I think, as elsewhere, you’re seeing an increased interest in local sounds. More local pop acts, as well as hip-hop stars, are performing in Swedish. The international pop scene has slowed a little over the last couple of years, but it’s cyclical, we think it’ll be back strongly in the next year or two and the work we’re doing together now will help us ride that wave.

You’ve also signed a partnership with Tommy Brown and his company Champagne Therapy to sign Pontus Kalm. Why are you partnering with Tommy Brown on this deal, and what are your ambitions for Pontus Kalm as a songwriter?

EM: He’s been hugely forward-thinking in identifying the opportunities for cultural collaborations between artists from the booming Korean scene and the highly skilled producers and songwriters based in markets like Sweden.

We’ve done great business together in the past and had a vision to expand more into K-Pop. So with Pontus Kalm being a dominating force in Sweden, as well as in the Asian market with BTS, it made perfect sense to partner together on him. So far, we’ve worked on global records which sonically originate from Asia and K-Pop and it feels like that sound is bleeding into the international market.

What are your predictions for the impact that Sweden’s songwriters will have on global hits and music trends over the coming years?

EM: They’ve had an impact since the ’70s and I can’t see that slowing down! They haven’t lost a step and Swedish writers will stick with what they know and that is that melody is a global language. They will continue to have success as melody is always at the core of what they do. And that’s why Swedes will dominate global music making for the foreseeable future.

LK: I think as the global pop cycle turns again you’ll see writers from all over the Nordics having hits at the top of the international charts. The strong and growing link with artists in Korea and Japan is one to watch. We’re building a strong base now and we’re going to hugely benefit from it over the next couple of years.Music Business Worldwide

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