In the last 5-7 years, the music industry has seen a clear shift to the streaming world! Streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify have now become the staple in how people access and listen to new and existing music. Now, not only has this development given rise to different benchmarks of success and reach, they have also spawned a completely new area of business in Distribution. Platforms such as Tunecore, Distrokid, Ditto and Spinnup (by Universal) are giving opportunities to Unsigned bands to upload their music onto all these Streaming platforms for prices that are honestly give-aways. The amount of difference in approaching all these streaming companies individually versus going through these Distribution Companies is astronomical!
WHERE DO RECORD LABELS STAND IN THIS REGARD?
The Music Industry has over a period of time come to terms with the fact that Record Labels are no longer what they used to be. Gone are the times of Geffen and Atlantic where the only way you could be a successful band was through getting a major Label deal with such giants. Social Media, along with platforms such as Soundcloud and now Distrokid, Tunecore etc. basically give any band the service that any Record Label would offer, at a price that is economical for anyone to get behind. A Distrokid membership costs $20 a year and your songs go straight to all the major streaming services, including online stores such as Amazon, Google and iTunes. Further, you keep 100% of what you make. I’m sure no one could imagine a successful business structure like this 5-7 years back. The only area where Labels still reign supreme is PR and the weight and prestige their company provides. But not transitioning to this new world has meant that their rosters are usually filled with already established acts who have been with them for long periods of time. This venture by Warner Music seems to be their first step into breaking into this new business model pervading all throughout the music industry. Now although Level Music isn’t completely owned by Warner Music, there is a strong link between them. Level Music is currently owned by a UK company called Radar Scope Ltd., but when you examine this company – you see that all the directions are senior Warner US and UK executives. This seems like a way of treading the waters before diving in completely, which seems like quite a smart business move.
WHY IS WARNER GETTING INTO THE STREAMING/DISTRIBUTION BUSINESS?
It’s simple really, isn’t it? You attract independent artists to upload their music to these streaming websites through your services. In turn, you get all the information about how they’re doing, how they develop and how they function in the online sphere. Recent world events have made it more than clear that at this point of time, information holds a lot of power and can make you a lot of money. You can track literally every artist on your service and if you find a few that are doing really well, you can just sign em onto your label. In terms of A&R, you are positioned very strongly.
Now, although Universal’s venture into the same with Spinnup has shown that only about 0.029% of Spinnups 100,000 artists have made it onto the main roster – it seems like Warner is taking this information and seeing it from a different perspective. Out of 100,000 artists that are giving you a specific fee for hosting their songs, if you get 29 artists that you can take onto your label and make them huge around the world, you’re getting money from these 29 artists. Has there ever really been a time in the Label industry in the last 10-15 years where we have had 20-30 big artists from a label? Most Labels have been surviving by one Justin Bieber or one Zayn Malik. Imagine how much money could potentially be made from such an experiment.
EXCITING TIMES AHEAD
Although Level Music is online now, it is currently in it’s beta stage. Warner Music on their end have done absolutely no PR relating to Level Music and there has literally been close to no coverage in the mainstream media. This again goes back to the point that Warner is probably tipping it’s toe first before jumping in, and making sure that all the moves they make are calculated and precise. But the rewards for this are undeniable – an unlimited pool of unsigned artists just waiting to be found. I mean, that’s how Post Malone got discovered right? We surely have some exciting times coming ahead in the music industry.