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Silver Lake, Roc Nation invest in merch company Fanatics

Sports merchandise company Fanatics has raised US$325 million from investors including Jay-Z and his company Roc Nation, a joint venture with Live Nation, and private-equity company Silver Lake Partners, which owns shares in TEG, WME, Oak View Group and Madison Square Garden Company.

Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, and with international offices in Tokyo and Manchester, UK, e-commerce giant Fanatics sells officially licensed products for the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, Nascar and more, and also operates several bricks-and-mortar shops.

The new funding will be put towards launching a non-merchandising division focusing on ticketing, gaming, media and sports betting, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company recently launched a company focusing on NFTs (non-fungible tokens), Candy Digital, and also has a partnership with leading esports competition Overwatch League.

The new investment values the company at more than $18 billion, the WSJ reports. The company expects to make $3.4bn in revenues in 2021.

Last week, the company hired Dan Goldberg, formerly of Warner Music Group, as senior vice-president for music and entertainment development, signalling its intention to branch out beyond sports apparel into music merchandise.

 


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AmazeVR to create virtual experience for Megan Thee Stallion

AmazeVR has inked a deal to create an immersive virtual reality concert experience for Grammy award-winning artist Megan Thee Stallion.

The ‘one-of-a-kind’ experience will be developed for cinemas outfitted with haptic motion chairs and VR headsets, and will also be available via a ‘music metaverse service’ using at-home VR headsets.

The virtual reality content service and the Roc Nation artist are set to unveil the experience to the public early next year.

“Megan Thee Stallion is a true artist,” said Ernest Lee, co-CEO of AmazeVR. “We are putting together a show unlike anything that’s been done before. It will be an epic, yet personal, performance that allows anyone to feel like they are right there with Megan for a shared experience.”

“We are putting together a show unlike anything that’s been done before”

Megan Thee Stallion added: “Creativity is limitless in the world of virtual reality, which means the concepts and ideas I have can also be limitless. I am so excited to work with AmazeVR to take my wild ideas and make them into a virtual reality for all my fans to see. Get ready!”

The news comes shortly after AmazeVR secured $9.5 million in new funding to accelerate the company’s growth in the world of virtual reality concerts.

The LA-based startup says it is investing the funding in talent and tech – hiring the industry’s best VFX artists, video production teams, engineers and creative talent.

The company recently announced a collaboration with creative director Lewis James, who is known for his work with artists such as Beyonce, Jay-Z, Travis Scott and Post Malone, and will oversee the Megan Thee Stallion experience.

The company has also said it plans to make upcoming shows available to more viewers through a partnership with Canadian company D-Box Technologies, which manufactures haptic motion systems used in cinemas, theme parks and simulation devices.

 


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Global Citizen concert raises $6.9bn to tackle Covid-19

International advocacy platform Global Citizen has raised almost US$7 billion in pledges from governments, corporations and philanthropists following its Global Goal live music event and summit.

Global Goal: Unite For Our Future was broadcast on Saturday (27 June), with performances from Miley Cyrus, who covered the Beatles’ ‘Help!’ in an empty Rose Bowl Stadium; Jennifer Hudson, who sang ‘Where Peaceful Waters Flow’ from a boat on the Chicago River; and Coldplay, who dedicated their performance of ‘Paradise’ to Elijah McClain, a young black man who died in police custody in Denver last year.

Justin Bieber, Shakira, Usher, Christine and the Queens, Chloe x Halle and J Balvin were among others to perform in the virtual concert, which was produced by entertainment giants including Live Nation, Scooter Braun and SB Projects, Roc Nation, Universal Music Group, Maverick and Hamish Hamilton’s Done+Dusted.

The summit and concert aired in over 180 countries and was streamed global on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The event raised $1.5bn in cash grants and $5.4bn in loans from the European Investment Bank in partnership with Global Goal co-organiser the European Commission.

“The $6.9bn that was pledged today to support the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities is an incredible next step on our journey out of the Covid-19 era”

The money is to be used to fund research for Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines and to ensure fair access to medical help for all, in a bid to combat the disproportionate impact of the disease on marginalised and disadvantaged communities, as part of the World Health Organisation’s Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator plan.

The event came as the follow-up to Global Citizen’s One World: Together at Home concert, which generated almost US$128 million for the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 solidarity response fund in April.

“Global Goal: Unite for Our Future was launched in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are proud to join the European Commission, and over 40 governments from around the world, to ensure Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines would be made available for everyone, everywhere,” says Global Citizen CEO, Hugh Evans.

“The $6.9bn that was pledged today to support the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities is an incredible next step on our journey out of the Covid-19 era, but there is more still to be done as no one is safe until everyone is safe.”

 


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Roc Nation’s Lauren Valencia passes

Artists and music industry professionals have taken to social media to pay respects to late artist manager Lauren Valencia, who died following a battle with cancer.

Valencia joined Roc Nation in 2012 and worked with artists including Grimes and My Chemical Romance.

“Our hearts are heavy,” says Roc Nation chief executive Jay Brown. “We’ve lost a family member in the physical world but we know Lauren’s spirit will continue on until the end of time. She lived in love, happiness, empathy and camaraderie. The world is a better place because Lauren walked among us.”

Members of My Chemical Romance, who Valencia managed in their last years as a band, also paid tribute to their former manager.

“You were the best manager a girl could ask for”

“You were a light that kept me going when times were really hard,” writes former frontman Gerard Way. “You were there for every show, every early morning flight and lobby call. The world is dimmer today, but I will always have your light to get me through.”

The band’s former guitarist Frank Iero describes Valencia as “one of the kindest, most hardworking people”, crediting the manager as “the only reason anything got done” in the band’s last years.

Canadian singer-songwriter Grimes, who was managed by Valencia at Roc Nation, also pays her respects, saying “for the last seven years you were the best manager a girl could ask for.”

 


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Philadelphia mayor: Made in America must relocate

Jay-Z‘s Made in America festival has faced prolonged issues this week, after comments from the Philadelphia mayor’s office said the open air event will from 2019 need to relocate away from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, it’s home since 2012.

Citing cost issues, congestion in the city brought on by the event and a growth in tourism, a representative for Mayor Jim Kenney’s office told local media, “the need for an event of this scale at this location may no longer be necessary.”

The decision not to let the event go ahead at its long-term home in 2019 appears to have been made without the input of Jay-Z or Roc Nation. Comments to local media from the mayor’s office therefore provoked an angry response from organisers and Jay-Z himself, with the rapper penning a passionate op-ed in the Philadelphia Enquirer

“We are disappointed that the mayor of the city of Philadelphia would evict us from the heart of the city, through a media outlet, without a sit-down meeting, notice, dialogue, or proper communication,” the rapper writes.

“It signifies zero appreciation for what Made In America has built alongside the phenomenal citizens of this city.”

“How do you think that tourism grew, Mayor Kenny?”

The mayor’s office originally cited an increase in tourism as one of the reasons the event, which last year welcomed 130,000 concertgoers across Labor Day weekend, need not go ahead in its current location. To this, the rapper responded by saying his event was largely part of the reason the city had seen this success, asking: “How do you think that tourism grew, Mayor Kenny?”

Officials have suggested the event may happen at a different Philadelphian location, but it seems the site of Benjamin Franklin Parkway is of particular importance to organisers. In his op-ed, Jay-Z writes that the Parkway, “captures the freedom and spirit of inclusivity that drew us to the City of Brotherly Love.”

Variety reported yesterday that Desiree Perez, chief operating officer of Roc Nation, stated that Made in America will take place at Benjamin Franklin Parkway or it will move out of Philadelphia altogether. Perez went on to call the Mayor’s actions a “bullying tactic.”

Made in America promoter Live Nation has since weighed in on the matter, siding wholly with Roc Nation. “We have yet to hear a compelling or plausible explanation for why the festival cannot return to the site where it has successfully been housed for six years and generated $102.8M in positive economic impact to the city,” Live Nation says in a statement.

“By handicapping Made In America’s ability to bring the best show possible to the best site possible, this administration makes a statement about how it values the arts and plans to protect and expand the city’s vibrant musical heritage.”

Performing this year at Made in America (1 and 2 September) at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, potentially for the last time, are artists including Nicki Minaj, Post Malone and Diplo.

 


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Jay Z confirms new 10-year touring deal with LN

As expected, Jay Z has signed a new touring contract with Live Nation, giving the world’s largest promoter a decade-long extension on its exclusive deal to promote and produce his shows worldwide.

The two parties signed a US$150m, ten-year ‘360’ deal in 2008, creating a new joint venture, Roc Nation, comprising recording, management, publishing, concert promotion and TV/film production divisions. It emerged last month that Jay Z (Shawn Carter) was seeking new investors for the non-live side of the business, with Live Nation now solely interested in touring.

It is believed Carter (pictured) and Live Nation will remain equity partners in Roc Nation, with the latter making no mention of any change in the company’s structure when announcing the new deal, reportedly worth around $200 million.

“Live Nation and I entered unchartered territory in 2008,” says Carter. “Over nine years, we have travelled the world producing historic music experiences. [Live Nation CEO and president] Michael Rapino is an industry visionary, and this renewed partnership is a testament to our longstanding relationship and the talented individuals at Live Nation.

“For the next ten years, we will continue redefining the live event landscape”

“For the next ten years, we will continue redefining the live event landscape.”

“Jay Z is one of the world’s preeminent touring artists,” adds Rapino. “This strengthens the creative and business partnership of someone that continues to expand his touring base and reach.”

Jay Z has not toured since 2014’s On the Run tour, jointly headlined with wife Beyoncé, which made $109.7m and was the fifth highest-grossing of the year. He will, however, play several festivals this summer, including Meadows Festival, Austin City Limits and his own Made in America Festival.

 


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Roc Nation ‘renews touring deal with Live Nation’

Jay Z is reportedly seeking new investors for the recorded side of his Roc Nation business, as the full-service entertainment company’s ten-year ‘360’ deal with Live Nation comes to an end.

Roc Nation was established in 2008 as a subsidiary of Live Nation. The mammoth deal, rumoured to be worth US$152 million, remains one of the biggest of 360 agreements, creating a new company incorporating recording, management, publishing, concert promotion and TV/film production divisions.

According to sources quoted by the New York Post’s Page Six, Live Nation wants out of Roc Nation’s recorded-music business, with Carter reportedly seeking new investment, potentially from Universal Music Group.

“Live Nation is not in the business of buying recorded music any more”

“Jay’s 360 deal with Live Nation is not being extended,” says one ‘insider’. “Live Nation had bought into the artists’ rights and recorded music, but they are not extending any of those relationships. Live Nation is not in the business of buying recorded music any more.

A spokesperson for Live Nation tells Billboard that is indeed the case: “Live Nation has a new long-term deal with Jay Z, and we expect to continue being equity partners in Roc Nation for many years to come.”

Artists signed to Roc Nation include Rihanna, Lil Wayne, Big Sean, J. Cole, Grimes, DJ Khaled and Demi Lovato.

 


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