If you haven’t heard by now, United Masters received $70mil from companies like Alphabet Inc. Andreessen Horowitz, and Twentieth Century Fox, to disrupt record labels. United Masters is currently run by Steve Stoute, former president of Interscope Records.
When you visit their website you’ll find statements like,
“For too long, artists have had to surrender their independence and creative freedom to make it in the music industry. Until now. Sign up for UnitedMasters to amplify your independence.”
Or you’ll find a video that shows you how to be on a package of Ramen or tattooed on an old man’s back..
There’s an odd and mysterious sense of empowerment, looming over this label dipped in fog, as musician’s careers and futures hang in the balance. The devil, is always, in the details. If you continue to read, you’ll notice that what they’re doing is in fact not new, and already offered in many different ways by other companies.
“UnitedMasters is ready to give musicians an alternative to exploitative record label deals. Artists pay UnitedMasters a competitive rate to distribute their music across the internet from Spotify to YouTube to SoundCloud, and they split the royalties while the artist retains the rights to the master recordings. Then UnitedMasters sucks back in all the analytics, identifies the listeners, builds artists a CRM tool, and helps them retarget their top fans with pinpointed ads for tickets and merch.” – TechCrunch
The answer is “one stop shop.” Let’s face it, musicians have too many websites they need to log into everyday, and most of them don’t integrate with one another at all. By doing some of the initial heavy lifting for artists to get their music on a variety of streaming platforms, and giving immediate insight into consumer behavior, artists can move fast and earn fast.. Speaking of learning and earning fast, better insight into a musician’s fan base, means more money from brands to help market their products more directly.
How will this help accelerate an artist’s career? Take musicians out of the equation… Technology has been helping every other B2C industry for decades learn more about consumer behavior, over time increasing transparency with real time analytics and data to help identify market segmentation and targeted ad spend. If you allow musicians to have a deeper understanding of their fan base through analytics, while providing them with additional tools to be more successful, it’s a win-win for everyone; especially at a one-stop-shop.
Percentages of deals are unclear, and United Masters claims to be working with over 1,000 artists currently, with a team of 40 employees constantly scouring the web for the next “big thing.” It’s also unclear whether or not United Masters invests in their artists, like traditional labels do, and frankly, should.
The era of record labels is far from over, the big three still reign supreme owning over 68% of the recorded music market share. With bold investments being made in the Independent Label space such as this, one thing artists can bet on, is a future with a much more transparent and favorable music industry.