CBx Daily

Apple Invests $50 Million In UnitedMasters F.U.B.U. Music Platform

Apr 7

By CultureBanx Team

  • UnitedMasters has raised a $50M series B round led by Apple
  • The platform with its 1 million current artists who give 10% of their revenue in exchange for distribution support

Music industry executive and pioneer Steve "The Commissioner" Stoute’s UnitedMasters, music distribution and data analytics company, has raised a $50 million series B round led by Apple (AAPL +2.36%). A company like United Masters leveraging analytics to holistically monetize fans could go a long way in uncovering new opportunities for revenue growth. Andreessen Horowitz and Alphabet (GOOG +4.11%) also re-upped their investment in the company, as UnitedMasters is set to enter into a strategic partnership with Apple.

Why This Matters: UnitedMasters initially raised $70 million from Andreessen Horowitz and Alphabet in 2017, with personal involvement from Larry Page and Ben Horowitz joining the board. The platform with its 1 million current artists is set up to create a more equitable future for artists by distributing music across the range of digital platforms out there, think Spotify (SPOT +0.07%), Tidal (now Square), and Soundcloud. Then, it collects data on the artist's listeners, that they can use for advertising things like concerts and merchandise sales. Basically UnitedMasters can check streams, fan and earnings data at a glance.

“Currently, independent artists have less opportunity for success and we’re trying to remove that stigma,” Stoute said to Tech Crunch. Revenue from indie labels and artists grew 27% in 2020, increasing their combined streaming market share to 31.5%, according to industry data provider Midia Research.

UnitedMasters wants to provide that technical edge at scale, allowing artists to build out their fanbase at a community level. Artists give UnitedMasters 10% of their revenue in exchange for distribution support, and unlike a record label, UnitedMasters doesn’t own the artist’s masters, they get to keep them.

So who is Steve Stoute? The artist manager, turned music industry executive, turned ad man created the advertising agency Translation, which has created some of the most hip-hop infused ad spots and established himself as a force in the industry. Here's a quick rundown of work Translation is responsible for including rapper Pusha T writing the jingle for McDonald's "I'm Loving It", Reebok's ad spot featuring Jadakiss and Allen Iverson and Google's history of hip-hop doodle, just to name a few.

Situational Awareness: Currently, UnitedMasters has deals with the NBA, ESPN, TikTok, Twitch and others that allow artists to tap big brand deals that would normally be brokered by a label and manager. UnitedMasters and its competitors should continue innovating to disrupt the music landscape, because deals like this with Apple ultimately push the industry forward.

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