A new company, UnitedMasters was just launched and it wants to disrupt the way the music industry operates, notably record labels. Armed with a $70 million investment from Alphabet and leadership from former top music executives, it has a good chance to do so – at least if it keeps all of its promises.
The company wants to act like a data analytics firm, distributor and label all in one clearing house. However it isn’t going to do it in the tradition manner like many firms today do. Artists will still control their own masters — a contentious issue that arises between many labels and artists. UnitedMasters will facilitate distribution to digital retailers and they split the royalties.
From there, UM will use the data and help artists hyper-target fans that artists can then use to sell merchandise, tickets and other items where they can make money from. It gives more freedom for artists and uses data to find and exploit opportunities that may be seen elsewhere or are in a lot of different locations.
There is one potential concern. Alphabet owns Google, which owns YouTube. Down the line, will Alphabet decide it needs to give a preference to YouTube. It wouldn’t be all that smart business-wise, but if the data is shifted towards YouTube or otherwise biases towards YouTube, then that could be an issue. Then there is the other issue of well-meaning new music tech companies that say one thing, then get conformed by the industry status quo and don’t actually disrupt as much as they claim they will. This is more likely.