Next-gen artist services and music technology platform UnitedMasters, led by former Interscope Records president Steve Stoute, has exited stealth mode with $70 million in funding from Google's parent company Alphabet, respected venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Floodgate, Translation and entertainment conglomerate 20th Century Fox.
UnitedMasters has raised $70 million to take on just about everyone in the recorded music business.
For too long, artists have had to surrender their independence and creative freedom to make it in the music industry. Until now.
Promoted as a modern alternative to the dieing record label model, United Masters offers a combination of distribution, targeted digital marketing and analytics similar to that offered by label services firms like Kobalt, Thirty Tigers and BMG, as well as, DIY solutions like CD Baby and Tunecore, albeit in a slicker and more integrated package. Google's Alphabet is also an investor in Kobalt.
While any artist can use the platform, unlike most of its non-label competitors, UnitedMasters also promises marketing and financial support to the most promising artists using the platform. Who gets that help will be largely determined by data analytics, a core feature built into all aspects of the company.
Experienced Team and Superstar Investors
A growing team of 40, that includes many ex-Facebook, Pandora and Dropbox staffers, is already working with 1000 artists and actively recruiting more. “Being able to operationalize independence was the goal of United Masters. There needs to be 250,000 Chance The Rappers,” says UnitedMasters founder and former Interscope Records president Steve Stoute.
Respected investor and hip hop uber-fan Ben Horowitz is joining the board. He also helped put together the team building the platform.
Steve thought: What if there were a platform that instantly enabled musical artists to market themselves globally as effectively as the top technology companies market to their customers?," wrote Horowitz. Such a platform would free musicians from dependencies on the old model while increasing their income tenfold. It would create unprecedented intimacy between artists and fans, while making artists truly independent."
Another investor that you might have heard of, Google founder and drummer Larry Page, also got involved very early. Page was apparently so surprised that musicians couldn’t easily track which fans spend the most and then retarget to sell them more, that he convinced Google’s Corp Dev leader David Drummond, himself a former radio DJ, to help United Masters the investment needed to change that.
United Masters is also launching a video series introducing United Stories, sharing original stories from the most innovative artists pushing music + culture forward." Here's the teaser:
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.