MUSIC BUSINESS MUSIC MEDIA

Universal Music Group Just Gave The Weeknd the Supermax

Fresh off closing out Coachella 2022, The Weeknd’s global stardom is rewarded with an ambitious long-term partnership with Universal Music Group.

This week, Universal Music Group announced a new and precedent-setting partnership with The Weeknd. Far more than just a record deal — he already had one of those on the books with UMG. Rather, it encompasses his recorded music, publishing, merchandise, and video production.

While the financial details of the agreement haven’t been reported as of this writing, NBA fans may as well consider this the music industry’s answer to the supermax contract.

We’re seeing star turn after star turn for the artist born Abel Tesfaye. His “Save Your Tears” was the top digital single of 2021 with 2.15 billion streams, according to the latest IFPI Global Music Report. He already holds the record for the longest-charting song in Billboard history, with “Blinding Lights” achieving 90 weeks on the Hot 100 chart.

Most recently, he subbed in for the artist formerly known as Kanye West to close out the Coachella festival as Sunday evening’s headliner, performing for a sold-out, electric crowd alongside Swedish House Mafia.

Now, UMG is well on its way to locking down the global superstar for good with a deal that appears legitimately historic in scope.

The pact builds upon the artist’s existing relationship with UMG imprint Republic Records, which has partnered with the artist since 2012; according to Billboard, that will remain the case. Previously, Tesfaye was distributing and licensing through Republic via UMG, but the new partnership locks in The Weeknd for what may very well be the rest of his musical life, purchasing the entirety of his songwriting catalog and all future works to come.

For many years, The Weeknd’s publishing rights had been administered by Kobalt. Going forward, UMG and Republic are taking over the show.

Two additional components of the deal:

  • Bravado, UMG’s leading brand management and merchandise company, will work closely with The Weeknd and the XO label he co-founded to expand and develop global merchandising, branding, ecommerce and retail licensing opportunities around future projects and releases.
  • The Weeknd and his creative team at HXOUSE will work in collaboration with Republic Records and UMG on future audiovisual and video projects.

As Wassim Slaiby, CEO of SalXCo and XO Records and The Weeknd’s longtime manager, said on the occasion:

“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.”

Added UMG Chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge:

“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.”

From any angle, it’s clear that UMG is fully committed to making sure that one of global music’s biggest stars — and just about everything in his orbit — has a home under its roof for the rest of his career — and even beyond.

Let The Weeknd’s supermax era begin.

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