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Bulgaria’s FEST Team acquires Charmenko

Bulgaria’s FEST Team is set to acquire Eastern European promoter, talent buyer and artist agency Charmenko.

The deal, which is expected to close later this summer, also includes Charmenko’s live events arm, Charm Music, and its artist agency, Charmworks.

The Istanbul-headquartered firm, founded in the late 1980s, will retain its name, staff and offices in Poland, Czechia & Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia and Serbia.

FEST Team is a Sofia-based full-service promoter, founded in 2012, which organises festivals such as Sofia Solid series, Hills of Rock Festival, and Spice Music Festival.

The firm has also promoted concerts with the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Ed Sheeran, Andrea Bocelli, Iron Maiden, Tom Jones, Lenny Kravitz, Franz Ferdinand, Editors and Pantera.

Charmenko and FEST Team have previously worked together, maintaining a co-promoting partnership in the Baltic States and Bulgaria.

“This acquisition represents a transformative opportunity for Fest Team,” says Stefan Elenkov, CEO of Fest Team. “It is a privilege for us to join forces with such renowned and respected company in the music industry. By combining Fest Team’s expertise in organising large-scale music events with Charmenko’s robust artist booking capabilities and industry know-how, we aim to create synergy that will redefine the Eastern European music landscape. This strategic integration will streamline our ability to connect artists with venues and festivals, offering comprehensive solutions that enhance the overall experience for performers and audiences alike.”

“I feel that it’s time for us to join a bigger grouping in order to take the next step towards a pan-East European promoting, talent buying and servicing organisation”

FEST Team says the acquisition marks a significant advancement in Fest Team’s growth strategy, aiming to bolster its regional presence and expand operations across Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Turkey, the Baltic regions and more.

Charmenko’s founder and owner, Nick Hobbs: “As a group of companies working throughout the East European region, we survived Covid and have returned to the growth we had towards the end of the 20 teens. The odds are stacked against independent promoters yet, with too many ups and downs to mention, the company has opened new offices and doubled in size since 2021 without incurring any debt. I feel that it’s time for us to join a bigger grouping in order to take the next step towards a pan-East European promoting, talent buying and servicing organisation which can integrate creativity, synergies and professionalism with a long-term strategy that puts artists, audience and clients foremost in our thinking.”

Hobbs founded Charmenko in London in the 1980s before relocating to Istanbul in 2003. The firm later opened offices in Czechia and Poland (2004), Serbia (2018), and Croatia (2021). The company promotes live shows and acts as a talent buyer in these markets.

Charmenko also acts as a talent buyer for events, venues and concert organisers in Finland, the rest of the former Yugoslavia, Romania, Moldova, Greece & Cyprus, the Caucuses and Egypt, as well as the Baltic States and Bulgaria.

The company adds, “As soon as the war is over, we look forward to returning to Ukraine, and as soon as the Russian and Belarussian regimes collapse, we look forward to returning to Russia and Belarus.”

Charmenko has promoted concerts with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Måneskin, The Chainsmokers, Arctic Monkeys, Marshmello, Rammstein, The National, Green Day, Die Antwoord, Central Cee, Franz Ferdinand, Sting, Tame Impala and Iron Maiden.

 


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Global investment firm buys Superstruct for €1.3bn

American global investment firm KKR has acquired festival giant Superstruct Entertainment from Providence in a €1.3 billion deal.

Superstruct was founded in 2017 by Creamfields founder and former Live Nation president of electronic music James Barton and Roderik Schlosser while at Providence. The company owns and operates more than 80 music festivals across 10 countries in Europe and Australia, and generates annual revenue of more than €100 million.

Its network includes Elrow (ES), Sziget (HU), Wacken Open Air (DE), Mysteryland (NL), Hideout (HR), Sonar (ES), Flow (FI), Øya (NO), Parookaville (DE), Wacken Open Air (DE) and Tinderbox (DK), while its UK interests include Y Not, Truck, Nass, Bluedot, Victorious, South West Four, Kendal Calling, Tramlines, Boardmasters and Lost Ventures – many of which were acquired when Global’s portfolio was divvied up in April 2019.

Last year, it bought majority stakes in London-based festivals Mighty Hoopla and Cross the Tracks, as well as Austria’s Snowbombing, and also acquired The Music Republic, promoter of iconic Spanish festivals Arenal Sound and Benicàssim (FIB).

“We are delighted to partner with Roderik Schlösser, James Barton and the team at Superstruct who have established themselves as a leader in delivering unparalleled live music experiences globally,” says Philipp Freise, partner and co-head of European private equity and Franziska Kayser, partner at New York-based KKR, whose existing interests include global music company BMG.

“With a robust foundation as a top-tier live entertainment platform, we see significant growth opportunities ahead for Superstruct”

“With a robust foundation as a top-tier live entertainment platform, we see significant growth opportunities ahead for Superstruct. Drawing on our strong partnership approach and experience in the digital entertainment and ticketing space, such as BMG, ProSiebenSat1, GetYourGuide, and Trainline, as well as KKR’s global resources and extensive network, we will support the company and its entrepreneurial team to bring their compelling portfolio of live event formats to a wider audience and drive further growth.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Financial Times reports it as €1.3bn, citing people familiar with the matter. Providence has an option to invest €250m into Superstruct as part of the transaction.

“The founding vision for Superstruct was to create a natural home for successful entrepreneurs, creative visionaries, and business-minded professionals in live entertainment,” say Schlösser and Barton. “We wanted to create a network of influence setting the standards for live experiences. Through our development, we are a leader in the professionalization of this industry, enabling our dedicated teams to excel in a collaborative and inspiring environment and create and deliver best-in-class events for millions of fans.

“We are proud to have secured the backing of KKR, whose expertise and network will strengthen our ability to scale and innovate in the vibrant experiential economy. We would like to thank Andrew Tisdale, Daniel Zwicky and the team at Providence for their outstanding support. Their belief in Superstruct has been fundamental to our success.”

KKR says it will “support Superstruct in its next phase of development”, noting that it is “one of the key players in a highly fragmented sector that continues to grow, expand and professionalise”. It also pledges to preserve “the creative and cultural DNA of the company”.

“We are confident that with KKR’s support, Superstruct will continue to thrive”

A formal auction process for the live behemoth – the second-largest festival promoter in the world after Live Nationreportedly took place last month. A report by Reuters in April named Blackstone and CVC as potential bidders, with KKR, Advance Publications and EQT listed as interested parties.

Providence was said to be working alongside banks Liontree and HSBC to gauge interest after planning the sale last summer.

“We are incredibly proud of the rapid growth and success Superstruct has achieved since its inception,” adds Andrew Tisdale, senior MD, and Daniel Zwicky, director, at Providence Equity Partners. “With Providence’s backing, Superstruct has become a truly exceptional live entertainment company. In particular, we believe the company’s resilience and emergence from the global pandemic as a stronger business is testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of Roderik Schlösser, James Barton and the impressive management team.

“We are confident that with KKR’s support, Superstruct will continue to thrive.”

 


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UTA acquires soccer agency ROOF

United Talent Agency (UTA) has expanded its sports portfolio with the acquisition of Representatives Of Outstanding Footballers (ROOF).

ROOF represents around 130 players and 20 managers and coaches across Europe’s “Big Five” soccer leagues, with clients including Liverpool captain Virgil Van Dijk, Arsenal’s Kai Havertz and Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

UTA created a dedicated sporting division, UTA Sports, in 2019 after making a significant investment in KLUTCH Sports Group. ROOF is now set to integrate with KLUTCH.

“Building out our global sports platform is a critical part of UTA’s growth strategy, and welcoming ROOF’s world-class agency and management team into our ranks marks another pivotal moment for UTA Sports,” says UTA chief operating officer and co-head of UTA Sports Andrew Thau. “With KLUTCH already the gold standard, and now ROOF and the other growing areas of our sports enterprise, we are poised to build out a best-in-class business unlike anything else in our industry.”

ROOF, which will continue to operate under its own name and founding leadership team, who will become shareholders in UTA, currently operates from offices in Munich, London and Madrid, and is targeting further international expansion.

“This exciting partnership gives us access to industry-leading resources and expertise to better serve our clients and broaden our reach globally”

“We could not be more energised by this opportunity to work with KLUTCH and UTA,” says ROOF co-founder and MD Björn Bezemer. “This exciting partnership gives us access to industry-leading resources and expertise to better serve our clients and broaden our reach globally. With ROOF partners becoming shareholders in one of the most transformational agencies in global sports and entertainment, we are excited to bring our industry-leading football representation to this team.”

Led by founder and CEO Rich Paul, who is also co-head of UTA Sports, KLUTCH has negotiated more than $4 billion in contracts on behalf of its roster across the NBA, WNBA, NFL and MLB.

“Football is the most global and popular sport on the planet, and in charting our path into the game, we’ve searched for a partner who aligns with KLUTCH’s values and takes a similar client-first approach,” says Paul. “It was clear very early on that ROOF was the perfect fit; our agencies share the same philosophy, passion and professional approach to representing the world’s best athletes. Together we look forward to bringing new energy to the beautiful game and its athletes through the lens of empowerment, storytelling and forward thinking.”

KLUTCH, UTA, and ROOF will also focus on the increasing opportunities across women’s sports.

In addition to its sports interests, UTA acquired the UK’s Curtis Brown Group in 2022 and opened new offices in London last year. UTA’s music clients include the likes of Bad Bunny, Take That, Dolly Parton, Florence and the Machine, Guns N’ Roses, Halsey, Jason Derulo, Lil Nas X, Lil Wayne, Wizkid, Lizzo, Paramore, Post Malone and Jonas Brothers

 


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OVG and Loft Entertainment acquire Canadian Music Week

Oak View Group (OVG) and Loft Entertainment have announced the joint acquisition of Canadian Music Week (CMW), Canada’s leading industry conference and music festival founded in 1983.

CMW, which runs this week (1-8 June) in Toronto, is led by founder and president Neill Dixon, who yesterday (3 June) announced his retirement from the organisation after 42 years.

Following the acquisition, OVG and Loft say they plan to “expand programming, enhance venues and offer unique engagement opportunities for artists and fans” so that CMW remains a “cornerstone event in the global music industry.”

At the same time, both firms are “committed to preserving the festival’s heritage while introducing fresh, dynamic elements that reflect the evolving music landscape.”

Canadian Music Week will continue to be headquartered in Toronto, with dates and details for the 2025 festival forthcoming.

OVG, the Los Angeles-based venue development, management and hospitality company led by Tim Leiweke, made its first foray into Canada in 2021 with the Hamilton Arena Project, which recently broke ground.

The firm says it is “deeply committed to investing in Canada [and] has been active in the market for over two years, forming strategic partnerships with prominent brands, including Canada Basketball, Great Canadian Gaming, McCain, GFL, Sports Interaction, ADP, and Diageo”.

“Neil’s vision has set a high standard that we are eager to uphold and expand upon”

Tom Pistore, president of OVG, said: “Oak View Group is delighted to expand our investment in the Canadian market and partner with Loft Entertainment in acquiring Canadian Music Week. This acquisition, along with our Hamilton Arena Project (which recently broke ground), aligns perfectly with our mission to elevate live entertainment experiences across the globe. We look forward to leveraging our expertise in venue management and conferences to take CMW to new heights. Together, we aim to deliver an unforgettable experience that celebrates the vibrant music culture of Canada and beyond.”

Loft Entertainment is a Canadian entertainment company helmed by industry veteran Randy Lennox, who formerly ran Universal Music Group Canada and Bell Media.

Commenting on the CMW acquisition, Lennox adds: “We are incredibly proud to bring Canadian Music Week into the Loft Entertainment Media family in partnership with Oak View Group,” he stated. “CMW has a rich history of championing music and artists, and we are committed to building on that legacy. Our vision is to enhance the festival experience, creating new opportunities for artists and attendees alike, while maintaining the core values that have made CMW a beloved event.

“As Neill Dixon steps into a well-deserved retirement, we honour his remarkable dedication to making CMW the influential event it is today. His vision has set a high standard that we are eager to uphold and expand upon.”

CMW was launched in 1983 by David Farrell and his wife Patricia Dunn-Farrell–then co-publishers of the weekly Canadian music trade, The Record. It began as The Record Music Industry Conference and was modelled on competitor RPM Weekly’s “Three Days in March” conferences in the late ‘60s and ‘70s.

Dixon’s marketing company Chart Toppers was initially hired in 1983 to book speakers, and organise panels for the annual event. Over the next few years, the convention morphed into Canadian Music Week, and Dixon became a co-partner a couple of years after it began

This year’s CMW is expected to draw some 3,000 delegates and host over 300 performing artists at 25 venues.

 


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Estonia’s Piletilevi Group acquires Polish ticketers

Estonian ticketing company Piletilevi Group is expanding its presence in Eastern Europe with two new acquisitions in Poland.

The firm has acquired majority stakes in Kicket and Biletomat, which will increase from 77% to 83.8% by 2026.

Piletilevi Group says that, as a result of the mergers, it’s now the second-largest ticket sales company in the Polish market and the largest player in Central Europe.

Piletilevi Group brokers tickets for nearly €320 million per year

“We now face the task of effectively connecting the companies that are being purchased and our existing company GoOut Poland, so that the best functionalities of Piletilevi Group and the new partners reach all our customers as quickly as possible,” says Sven Nuutmann, co-owner and CEO of Piletilevi Group.

The Group, which isowned by Nuutmann’s investment company EastCom Capital and BaltCap (the largest private equity investor in the Baltics), brokers tickets for nearly €320 million per year.

Founded 27 years ago, the Tallinn-headquartered firm operates in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.

The company have invested nearly six million euros into a new platform, which will be completed in the first half of 2025.

 


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Gadget abc swoops for Swiss festival

Switzerland’s Gadget abc Entertainment Group has secured a majority stake in the Stars in Town festival.

The Swiss festival attracts around 60,000 visitors a year over two weekends to Schaffhausen’s Old Town. It will now become part of Gadget’s extensive festival portfolio, which also includes OpenAir St.Gallen, SummerDays Festival Arbon, Seaside Festival, Unique Moments at the National Museum Zurich and Radar Festival.

The companies have partnered for many years, with all contact partners, as well as management and company headquarters, set to remain unchanged in the wake of the deal.

Festival director and board member Adrian Brugger remains a shareholder of Stars in Town with a minority stake and will continue in his role.

“With the integration of Stars in Town, one of the highest-quality festivals in Switzerland, into the Gadget Group, the story that began together a long time ago will gain a new chapter,” says Christof Huber, director festivals & events at Gadget.

“We are very much looking forward to working even more closely with Christof Huber and the entire Gadget team”

Huber has been jointly responsible for booking Stars in Town for a decade and has been a board member since 2015.

“I warmly welcome Adi Brugger and his team to the Gadget family,” he adds. “Over the past few years, they have established Stars in Town as one of the most important festivals in Switzerland. I look forward to developing the festival together with them and to offering all Schaffhausen residents and guests even more exciting artists and an even more intense musical experience.”

Stars in Town will gain direct access to the Gadget network and benefit from expanded opportunities in booking, ticketing, marketing and sponsorship, among other areas.

“We are very much looking forward to working even more closely with Christof Huber and the entire Gadget team,” adds Brugger. “Thanks to this strong support, we will not only lead the festival into a successful future but also further strengthen Schaffhausen as a regional centre for culture and entertainment.”

The festival’s next edition will take place in Schaffhausen from 2-10 August, featuring acts such as Placebo, Passenger, Tom Odell, Status Quo and Editors.

 


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Live Nation Australia buys Face To Face Touring

Live Nation Australia has acquired Face To Face Touring, a concert and festival promoter headquartered in Perth, Western Australia.

Face To Face Touring was formed in September 2023 when promoters Zaccaria Concerts and Touring and Regional Touring joined forces.

The company’s portfolio of events includes Red Hot Summer Tour, SummerSalt, By The C, Castaway, Live in The Vines, One Electric Day, Sydney Spiegeltent, and the all-new Lookout Festival.

The firm, which also has operating offices in Ballarat, regional Victoria, has worked with artists including Jimmy Barnes, Nile Rogers & CHIC, Tina Arena, The Cat Empire, John Butler, The Teskey Brothers, Tame Impala, RUFUS DU SOL and more.

The partnership with Live Nation will focus on delivering a range of single-stage, multi-artist events to regional locations across Australia, according to a release.

“Our combined brands and businesses mean increased scale and relevance both in Australia and internationally”

LN will provide the Face To Face team with “global resources and industry knowledge to expand their offering, resulting in a more diverse portfolio of shows and music, while providing artists with greater unique opportunities to connect with fans across Australia”.

“By bringing together our companies to form Face To Face Touring we are creating a strong platform for growth,” says John Zaccaria, promoter and founder of Zaccaria Concerts and Touring.

“Our combined brands and businesses mean increased scale and relevance both in Australia and internationally. We have massive respect for Duane and what he has achieved with the Red Hot Summer brand and really look forward to working together as we integrate the two companies into one. By teaming up with Live Nation, we are poised for even greater expansion with the ability to create something truly amazing and magical for artist and fans all over Australia.”

Duane McDonald, promoter and founder of Regional Touring Event Enterprises, adds: “We are thrilled with the unique opportunities this partnership will create for fans, as well as our employees, contractors, and business partners. There will continue to be a strong focus on delivering the high quality of artists and concert experiences that fans love, with the backing of the world’s leading promoter and live entertainment company.”

Live Nation’s portfolio in Australia includes event organiser Secret Sounds, JV talent agency Cult Artists, and venues Festival Hall and The Palais Theatre in Melbourne, the Fortitude Music Hall in Brisbane, the Hindley Street Music Hall in Adelaide and Anita’s Theatre in Thirroul.

 


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Legends announces acquisition of ASM Global

Legends has confirmed its long-rumoured acquisition of venue management giant ASM Global, creating a premium global live events company.

The blockbuster deal will enhance Legends’ services portfolio, positioning it to “meet the expanding needs” of sports organisations, venues and attractions around the globe, while “supporting its vision to deliver exceptional live experiences for fans in the digital age”.

Founded in 2008, premium experiences specialist Legends – which is backed by global investment firm Sixth Street – provides venue planning and project management, premium sales, sponsorship, hospitality and merchandise services.

High-profile clients include prestigious brands such as Real Madrid, SoFi Stadium, Dallas Cowboys, FC Barcelona, New York Yankees, and Ryder Cup, as well as the NFL, MLB, NASCAR, PGA of America and FIFA World Cup.

“Legends and ASM Global are both deeply client-centric and fan-focused and together we will deliver maximum value for our global client roster with even greater support and service options,” says Legends CEO Shervin Mirhashemi.

“Welcoming ASM Global to Legends is a capstone achievement in our 15-year journey”

“Welcoming ASM Global to Legends is a capstone achievement in our 15-year journey toward becoming the world’s trusted partner for connecting people with the brands and communities that matter most to them, and for helping our clients create memorable moments that keep their fans and patrons returning time and again.”

Financial terms were not disclosed, but Bloomberg previously reported that Legends was in talks over a US$1.85 billion financing package to fund the acquisition, which will expand both its geographic reach and range of services.

ASM Global, which was formed in 2019 following a merger between arena operators AEG Facilities and Onex’s SMG, operates buildings including ICC Sydney Convention Center, Avicii Arena in Stockholm, OVO Arena Wembley, Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai and State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Current ASM Global equity holders Onex and AEG will sell their ownership interests as part of the deal, while ASM Global will continue to serve existing and in-development AEG venues.

“We’re thrilled to join Legends, which shares our client-first approach and advances our goal of offering our partner organisations a truly seamless experience while driving the growth of their businesses,” says Ron Bension, president and CEO of ASM Global.

“Our clients will benefit from Legends’ robust services, innovation, technology, and global partnerships which, combined with ASM Global’s venue management and content and event booking expertise, will provide our clients with locally tailored solutions and cutting-edge technologies to achieve outstanding fan experiences and improved venue owner results.”

 


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Providence Equity takes stake in Sphere designer

Providence Equity Partners has acquired a minority stake in Populous, an architectural and design firm for sports and entertainment venues.

Providence, which already backs Superstruct, Wasserman and Ambassador Theatre Group, says the acquisition “fits squarely with [our] focus on sports, entertainment and live events businesses”.

Founded in 1983 as HOK Sports Facilities Group, Populous’s portfolio spans 3,000 projects including Yankee Stadium in New York, Wembley Stadium in London, Stadium Australia and every Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games since 1996.

The firm’s portfolio also boasts the $2.3 billion Las Vegas Sphere (cap. 18,600), which officially opened on 29 September with U2’s residency.

Providence’s investment in Populous is subject to customary regulatory approvals and financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“Populous has established an exceptional reputation for designing vibrant entertainment destinations”

Populous will continue to be led by one of its founders and global chair, Earl Santee, and its existing leadership.

“As our industry continues to evolve, we believe this partnership will enable greater integration and expansion of our global business,” says Santee. “Providence has a strong track record of supporting the success of businesses that deliver world-class events and experiences, and we believe their expertise will further accelerate our momentum and enable us to capitalize on additional growth opportunities while retaining the core values and culture that are integral to Populous.”

Scott Marimow, a managing director at Providence, adds: “Over the last 40 years, Populous has established an exceptional reputation for designing vibrant entertainment destinations that create unforgettable experiences for fans, spectators and communities worldwide.

“We have been impressed by the differentiated business and culture that Earl and his team have built, as well as its world-class portfolio of projects for some of the most iconic names in sports and entertainment. We believe Populous is well positioned for continued, sustainable growth and will benefit from consumer demand for live entertainment and increased infrastructure investment by venue owners seeking to create new and innovative environments and experiences.”

The Providence deal was announced after Monday’s news that Pennsylvania State University had selected Populous to design a multi-year renovation of Beaver Stadium (cap. 106,000), the second-largest stadium in the US.

 


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Warner acquires Indian live events firm E-Positive

Warner Music Group (WMG) has acquired India-based live events and artist management company, E-Positive.

WMG says that the deal strengthens its position in the market and will allow its artists “to tap into new expertise in brand partnerships and live events”.

The record label conglomerate officially launched Warner Music India in March 2020 and has since struck distribution deals with Bollywood specialist Tips Music and Punjabi music company Sky Digital India.

The firm has also inked strategic partnerships with Indian pop star Armaan Malik (in February 2022), with JetSynthesys in September 2021, and with Jjust Music in April 2022. In February, the major acquired a majority stake in India-based digital media and music firm, Divo.

Now, WMG has acquired E-Positive, which represents Darshan Raval – “one of the top five most streamed artists in India and the fastest growing artists in the region, having quadrupled his daily streams in the last 12 months”.

E-Positive will continue to act as a standalone company and will be led by founder and CEO, Naushad Khan, who has promoted more than 15,000 shows in the market.

“Naushad’s knowledge of brand partnerships and the live sector will be a great asset for us at Warner Music India”

Since launching E-Positive, he has also been instrumental in managing the careers of a number of artists, including Raval, whom he discovered and helped develop into a star.

“This is an exciting day in the journey of E-Positive,” says Khan. “I have worked towards developing a legacy for over 10 years and have shaped the journey of each one of my artists. I’m delighted that we have found a new home at Warner Music India. The team at Warner Music India will aid us in expanding into the international market and enable our artists to connect with more fans globally. We are looking forward to the next chapter of E-Positive.”

Jay Mehta, managing director, Warner Music India, adds: “Naushad has done an incredible job of positioning E-Positive as a leading management company and his knowledge of brand partnerships and the live sector will be a great asset for us at Warner Music India.

“And it’s a privilege to welcome such a phenomenal artist as Darshan Raval into the global Warner Music family. Darshan is a true star, and we believe he can become a staple on the global stage.”

Alfonso Perez Soto, president, Emerging Markets, Warner Music, said: “This deal once again reinforces our desire to become the number one destination for artists in India, and welcoming an artist like Darshan onto our roster is a real statement of intent.

“Darshan, as well as the whole of the E-Positive roster, will be able to harness Warner Music’s global network and start to connect with a wider international audience.

“This deal helps us to level-up and enhance our 360 offering to artists by bringing in the knowledge and expertise of Naushad to Warner Music. Our improved suite of services will enable our artists to transcend the whole of India and help bring Indian culture to the rest of the world.”

 


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