Death Row revived by licensing deal

Label expected to release new material soon

NEW YORK -- Music publisher EverGreen, which owns the catalogs of 2 Live Crew, Third Eye Blind, MC Hammer, Tupac Shakur and others, has signed a deal with WIDEawake, the Canada-based development company that acquired the assets of Death Row Records earlier this year, to be the worldwide administration company of the legendary rap label. As part of a long-term arrangement, EverGreen will administer and handle licensing for all of the compositions and master recordings in the Death Row catalog, as well as the processing of all mechanical and performance royalties in the catalog.

"After purchasing the Death Row catalog in January, WIDEawake began looking for a partner to help monetize their rights," David Schulhof, co-CEO of EverGreen, said. "We already had a relationship through the estate of Tupac Shakur; WIDEawake was looking for an exclusive boutique company to help focus on licensing in the film, television, video game and ad world; and because we own the catalogs of Tupac and 2 Live Crew and Teddy Riley and others, they knew we already had experience in the genre. So, it just felt like the obvious choice for them to partner up with us for Death Row."

With the new joint venture, WIDEawake extends EverGreen's rights to market, promote and collect royalties on all the copyrights and master recordings in the Death Row catalog, including more than 10,000 released and unreleased songs by such artists as Tupac, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound, Kurupt, Daz Dillinger and Nate Dogg, to list a few. It also includes never-before released albums by Crooked I, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, RBX, The Lady of Rage, Warren G, K-Solo, Danny Boy and DJ Quick, among others.

So far, EverGreen/WIDEawake has licensed tracks like "Nuttin' But A G Thang," "California Love" and "Gin N Juice" for television shows and movies. Evergreen also got new artists -- although he wouldn't reveal who -- to record remixes of a number of songs from the catalogs for several video games. "We are now a one-stop, which makes it easy to clear," says Schulhof. "If anyone in the film, tv, ad or video game world wanted to pick up any Death Row song, we control both sides of the equation so It'd be easy."

In addition, Death Row is expected to generate a number of new releases in the near future, like a new album of unreleased Tupac material to commemorate the rapper's June 2010 birthday. The as-yet-untitled album will be distributed by E-1 stateside and EMI overseas. Other forthcoming releases include a collector's edition rerelease of "The Chronic Re-Lit," slated for a September 1, 2009 street date. The album will feature four bonus tracks - all unreleased master from Death Row - plus a DVD with never before seen video footage of Dr. Dre and other artists. WIDEawake/Death Row will also release several box sets this holiday season, including a four CD collection of previously unreleased Death Row master recordings, never before seen images and video footage.

As well, WIDEawake/Death Row will launch a new brand extension called Hustle City, which will debut first as a graphic novel including a CD insert of music related to the story line. "Our goal is to continually breathe new life into Death Row," said Lavi, adding that aside from the graphic novel series, they also plan on releasing comic books, animated webisodes, a feature film and games under the Hustle City powered by Death Row music brand.

WIDEawake Entertainment Group snapped up Death Row Records from bankruptcy for $18 million in January. Lara Lavi, the company's founder and CEO, is a lawyer, songwriter and entrepreneur, who founded the company in 2006 to work in a variety of media, including film and music. WIDEawake has distribution in Canada through Universal Music.