What Record Label?
Now that Steve’s project is out of “stealth mode” and the key players involved have been revealed, there is no doubt in my mind that the major labels will react in kind. This is their challenge, their call to action. Adapt now, or die. What will the future of Sony, Universal, or Warner look like? Those who are paying attention and taking these emerging solutions seriously know they need to keep a close eye on analyzing and comparing these solutions with their current business models to see how they can adapt it for their survival.
The Next Generation
With all the developments in blockchain-powered systems and UnitedMasters’ promises, a renaissance in the music industry business model is on the way. We are on the horizon of a new dawn that may look nothing like the historical model we’ve known since the birth of radio. But one question remains. Is all this focus on technology going to be good for the industry, or are these disruptors going to simply replace the old gatekeepers with new ones?
The current vehicle is part of the problem, just as Stoute fingers the blame on labels. Bands like Arkaik must rely on the label to do the marketing and advertising. In a healthy symbiotic relationship, the label executives will be transparent about the budgets and goals to hit, marketing advice, and all-around good communication – as with any effective business. Those relationships are often far from ideal, and in some cases totally one-sided. Many get lost in the legalese when confronted with the details stipulated in a contract and only those already affluent & wise enough to seek proper legal counsel can truly approach negotiating their label deal. The bullish business strategies of labels hide in plain sight.
While there are software and web-based solutions that try to fill the void, they’re disconnected, isolated, and require a steep learning curve to master. The further you head into self-publishing and promotion, the more tools you need to learn. The more tools you must learn, the more ground you must cover. It’s a war of attrition taxing individuals of their time. Stoute recognized this, and from it, UnitedMasters was born.
However, we may not yet be socially ready for this quantum-state business model that is sweeping across the industry. Is UnitedMasters a software company, or is it a marketing firm? According to quantum mechanics, it can be both. Many in the music industry point fingers at Google for Youtube’s poor royalty rate performance and even at Spotify for its struggles, but Stoute points to big labels as the ones withholding the earnings. He wants to empower the shift directly into the hands of the content creators. Stoute’s partnership with Google’s Alphabet umbrella company is providing the example of what the next generation of music business architecture will be: one foot firmly planted in both industries, but that partnership can look deceptively scary to those on the outside.
Let The Right Ones In
With these recounts, it makes it hard to swallow that Google may truly care about the health of the music industry’s future, putting a hesitant spin on the deal with UnitedMasters. To some, it could just be another experiment that Alphabet has the disposable income to play with, ambivalent of its viability.
Follow the Leader
UnitedMasters won’t light the way alone. Their mere presence may inspire others to attempt to provide similar solutions, including the blockchain-based front-ends being developed. It would make all-too-much sense for these kinds of emerging technologies to start cooperating early on and providing interoperable solutions. UnitedMasters, DotBC Media Project, even others like Amuse and Ethereum could provide a total package that puts major business power directly in the hands of the creators of the content. As these offerings march forward, they will have plenty of their own challenges to face outside of the “big tech brother” narrative.
The Race for Supremacy
With Promise, Comes Challenge
A Sign of the times
Medium – Traditional Music Industry Approach vs. What’s Coming… Oct. 29th 2017, Benji Rogers
Neologic Studios – Unraveling the Music Industry With Blockchain, Nov. 22nd 2017, Cameron Bashaw
TechCrunch – With $70M from Alphabet, UnitedMasters replaces record labels, Nov. 15th 2017, Josh Constine
CNN Money – Google charged by EU in Android monopoly lawsuit, Apr. 20th 2016, David Goldman
LA Times – To understand how dominant tech companies are, see what they lobby for, Sep. 1st 2017, Brian Fung & Hamza Shaban
The Guardian – Forget Wall Street – Silicon Valley is the new political power in Washington, Sep. 3rd 2017, Olivia Solon & Sabrina Siddiqui
Wikipedia – Tulip Mania
Gizmodo – Bitcoin Blows Past $9,000, Nov. 26th 2017, Tom McKay
CNBC – Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse explains why the world has barely scratched the surface with cryptocurrencies, Sep. 11th 2017, Eric Jackson
Hackernoon – Blockchains don’t scale. Not today, at least. But there’s hope. Aug. 23rd 2017, Preethi Kasireddy
Billboard – Jimmy Iovine Breaks Down What’s Wrong With the Music Business, Warns Against Overoptimism in Streaming: ‘They’re Not Making Money’, Nov. 29th 2017, Colin Stutz
Groove3 Blog – Kenny’s Discussion of the day: Pop Music Vs. Art, Nov. 27th 2017, Kenny Gioia