After an understated message at MIDEM, Troy Carter’s Q&A is formally dabbling a deal with Warner Music Group to ‘upstream’ artists.
Carter criticized the presumption that every artist wants to remain independent. “It’s a false narrative,” Carter explained at MIDEM previously, while touting the benefits of his ‘upstreaming’ deal with Warner Music Group.
“There’s still a business with major labels because of the support system they have around them, and the global infrastructure,” Carter further noted at MIDEM. “So if distributors can add similar value, and have experience, services and capital, that’s where they can become very competitive.”
Consequently, Q&A’s upstreaming deal means that Carter-curated acts can now profit from a significant label infrastructure. Of course, Warner will be taking its piece of the action, which means both Q&A and the artist get a smaller portion of the resulting revenues.
If all goes according to plan, Q&A’s artist gets a smaller percentage of a bigger pie, or at least that’s the idea. Just be careful about who owns those masters ten years down the line.
The announcement follows a deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing in May; Music Business Worldwide first reported the news. Q&A is an unconventional company, and the Warner arrangement is a “special agreement that’s nothing like a traditional label deal,” one source says. They have also made several essential hirings, including Marc Hemeon and Phillip Eubanks, who were previously executives at Facebook and Spotify, respectively.
“At Q&A we understand the importance of taking a diversified approach to an artist’s career, and we’ve built an offering that has the ability to scale to accommodate those unique needs,” says Carter, the company’s founder and CEO to Variety. “After speaking with [Warner CEO of recorded music] Max Lousada, it is clear that we are aligned on the mission to maximize our ability to impact an artist’s career. Having a partnership with WMG allows us to upstream independent artists that are looking to release through a major label system, therefore, enabling us to continue to add value at every stage of their career.”
Lousada stated, “We’re building an environment at Warner that amplifies true originality and backs creative risk-takers. That includes bringing dynamic entrepreneurs like Troy into our orbit, giving them access to a global network, and empowering their independent visions. The artist-centric approach at Q&A will make this a very natural, seamless collaboration, as we work together to develop bespoke strategies for a diverse group of extraordinary talent.”
According to its launch statement, Q&A endeavours to “empower the next generation of artists through technology, tools and services.” In their first move toward expansion, Q&A merged with Human Re Sources, the digital distribution and label services company launched by Erving in 2018. The merger enables Q&A and Human Re Sources to “build an integrated solution for artists via distribution, management, label services, and data analytics with a highly collaborative artist-driven approach,” with a stated goal of creating an ecosystem where entrepreneurial artists receive support throughout their entire career.
The company reassembles Carter and Erving with Suzy Ryoo, all of whom previously worked at Carter’s artist management company Atom Factory, the roster of which included Lady Gaga, Meghan Trainor, Nelly and Charlie Puth.