Apple Invests $50 Million In UnitedMasters Culturally Relevant Music Artist Platform


Music industry executive and pioneer Steve “The Commissioner” Stoute’s UnitedMasters, music distribution and data analytics company, has raised a $50 million series B round led by Apple

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. A company like UnitedMasters leveraging analytics to holistically monetize fans could go a long way in uncovering new opportunities for revenue growth. Andreessen Horowitz and Alphabet also re-upped their investment in the company, as UnitedMasters is set to enter into a strategic partnership with Apple. 

The Breakdown You Need To Know:

UnitedMasters initially raised $70 million from Andreessen Horowitz and Alphabet in 2017, with personal involvement from Larry Page and Ben Horowitz joining the board. CultureBanx noted the platform with its 1 million current artists is set up to create a more equitable future for artists by distributing music across the range of digital platforms out there, think Spotify, Tidal (now Square), and Soundcloud. Then, it collects data on the artist’s listeners, that they can use for advertising things like concerts and merchandise sales. Basically UnitedMasters can check streams, fan and earnings data at a glance. 

“Currently, independent artists have less opportunity for success and we’re trying to remove that stigma,” Stoute said to Tech Crunch. Revenue from indie labels and artists grew 27% in 2020, increasing their combined streaming market share to 31.5%, according to industry data provider Midia Research.

UnitedMasters wants to provide that technical edge at scale, allowing artists to build out their fanbase at a community level. Artists give UnitedMasters 10% of their revenue in exchange for distribution support, and unlike a record label, UnitedMasters doesn’t own the artist’s masters, they get to keep them.

Translating Music Masters:

Trapital reported that if a weekly playlist like Spotify’s RapCaviar spun off from the streaming service and formed its own entity, it could monetize by charging artists for placement the same way other playlists do. The key difference between UnitedMasters and the hypothetical ‘RapCaviar LLC’ is that Stoute’s company is a third party between the artist and the outlets offering exposure, while RapCaviar would be a direct channel for the artist.

So who is Steve Stoute? The artist manager, turned music industry executive, turned ad man started as the roadie for Kid n Play, but he made his name managing hip hop icon Nas. Stoute went on to become an executive at Sony Music, before helming Interscope Records as its President. He went on to then recreate himself after seeing the amount of money ad agencies were making on his artists. 

Eventually he started ad agency Translation which has created some of the most hip-hop infused ad spots and established himself as a force in the industry. Here’s a quick rundown of work Translation is responsible for including rapper Pusha T writing the jingle for McDonald’s

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“I’m Loving It”, Reebok’s ad spot featuring Jadakiss and Allen Iverson and Google’s

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history of hip-hop doodle, just to name a few.

Streaming Success:

Currently, UnitedMasters has deals with the NBA, ESPN, TikTok, Twitch and others that allow artists to tap big brand deals that would normally be brokered by a label and manager. UnitedMasters and its competitors should continue innovating to disrupt the music landscape, because deals like this with Apple ultimately push the industry forward.



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