The many parts that make up the music business are somewhat complicated to understand. There are royalties, contracts, partnerships, and so much more that go into an artists’ career than we think. Well, at least in the “traditional” sense. Ever since the decline of CD’s sales transitioned into a digital, streaming age of music consumption, the overall landscape of this traditional model has changed and has been for a long time. Record labels were once the gateway to success for potential artists, but not anymore. They have become irrelevant, unnecessary, and frankly a waste of time.
More and more artists are taking the road less traveled and nixing record deals with greedy labels to take matters into their own hands. Two prime and well-known examples are the immense independent success of Chance the Rapper and Joey Bada$$. Record labels are no longer functional because artists now have the technology and ability to record at home, along with the power of the internet to promote themselves. This calls for a new kind of enterprise to hone this new era into something huge.
The former president of Interscope Records and CEO of ad agency Translation, Steve Stoute (pictured above) gathered $70 million to create UnitedMasters. It is a new ‘artists services‘ company that charges a competitive rate to distribute an artists’ music across platforms like Spotify, YouTube, and SoundCloud, then split the royalties and lets the artists keep the rights to their master recordings. Then the data will go back to UnitedMasters for them to analyze fan listening patterns in order to more efficiently target listeners for ad’s, merchandise, concert tickets etc. This allows for the artist to maintain their creative freedom while monetizing their craft in a way that benefits them and their fans.
Where did this $70 million come from? Well, let’s just say some of the top dogs in the investing game want in on this too. The impressive list of investors includes one part of Google’s corporate umbrella called Alphabet, 20th Century Fox, and the well-known venture firm Andreessen Horowitz. UnitedMasters will operate as a subsidiary of Stoute’s current ad agency Translation Enterprises, and will essentially be infiltrating consumption in a completely new way. They are changing the way artist’s connect with their fans- i.e taking out the irrelevance of record deals- to replace it with new technology and operations.
This is a statement of their core product beliefs on the UnitedMasters’ blog from Jack Krawczyk:
“We believe that the music industry should be built by transparently connecting artists with their fans: understanding musical influences, cultural preferences, and general listening behavior. We believe that listening to fans that are based on how, when and where they engage with music tells us about the types of experiences they prefer. Building these insights into a profile that an artist and their team can easily understand can open up new doors to inform how to grow their career. We believe the future of music is for the artist to have transparency into their fans’ data, where their promotional money is being spent, and to have a majority stake in the ownership of their recorded music. We believe that the future of music is a mixture of machines that listen to behaviors and marketing teams who can translate those insights into creative direction with clear paths to maximizing the impact of their art. The products we build enable disparate data sets to come together in order to reach fans directly, publish insights, syndicate content and present new opportunities for monetization in building the future of an artist’s career.”
This is the start of something completely new and seemingly has the utmost potential to change the direction of the entire industry as we know it, we just have to wait and see. You can read more about UnitedMasters here.
H/T: Tech Crunch