Apple Invests $50 Million in Independent Music Artist Platform UnitedMasters

Independent music distributor UnitedMasters has announced a $50 million investment round led by Apple that aims to help independent artists gain a foothold and establish a career in the music business (via TechCrunch).

apple music logo
As part of a strategic partnership, Apple is joined by Google parent company Alphabet and A16z, which will provide follow-on "Series B" investments in UnitedMasters.

The mission of the distribution platform is to enable artists to "maintain full ownership over their work while expanding their economic opportunity and introducing them to millions of new fans." To that end, UnitedMasters aims to furnish musicians with data on how fans interact with their content and community, allowing them to connect more directly to offer tickets, merchandise and other commercial efforts.

"We want all artists to have the same opportunity," UnitedMasters CEO Steve Stoute told TechCrunch. "Currently, independent artists have less opportunity for success and we're trying to remove that stigma."

"Every artist needs access to a CTO. Some of the value of what a manager is today for an artist needs to be transferred to that role."

UnitedMasters has deals with the NBA, ESPN, TikTok, Twitch and others that gives artists access to big brand deals that would traditionally be negotiated by a label and manager. It also has a direct distribution app through which musicians can publish to all of the major streaming services, as well as check stream, fan and earnings data at a glance.

"Steve Stoute and UnitedMasters provide creators with more opportunities to advance their careers and bring their music to the world," said Apple's Eddy Cue in a release statement. "The contributions of independent artists play a significant role in driving the continued growth and success of the music industry, and UnitedMasters, like Apple, is committed to empowering creators."

The strategic partnership is relatively unique for Apple, which typically likes to acquire companies rather than invest in them, and when it chooses to do the latter it usually does so through its Advanced Manufacturing Fund.

That said, the mission of the platform appears to have much in common with Apple Music Connect, the social network for artists that was originally part of Apple Music when it launched in 2015, but soon faded into obscurity before becoming officially defunct in December 2018.

Top Rated Comments

Mick-Mac Avatar
18 months ago
Every time I see that Music app icon I cringe. Why can't Apple invest some money into making the macOS and iOS Music apps less awful.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
imnotthewalrus Avatar
18 months ago

So.. this is where our money is going?
Music has always been a passion of Apple; particularly in the Jobs era.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Feyl Avatar
18 months ago

Every time I see that Music app icon I cringe. Why can't Apple invest some money into making the macOS and iOS Music apps less awful.
I'm a big critic of Apple's design but the current icon is in my opinion way better than just a white blob.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Amadeo Avatar
18 months ago
Having worked for one of Steve Stoute's companies, I'm honestly impressed at his repeated ability to identify niche opportunities that turn out to be very lucrative in the end. Most people can only ever do that once in a lifetime. Wasn't the greatest office culture (a bit dog eat dog), but the impact in culture (or ability to authentically reflect it) is undeniable. UnitedMasters is another example of that.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
qoop Avatar
18 months ago
More anonymous brands, more millions, more promises, more strategic partnerships, more paperwork, more middle men… we've heard it all before…
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pmau Avatar
18 months ago
Apple is spreading thin with all these services.
I cannot imagine that they can get that much revenue from all of these, but I ofcourse understand that this is just a drop in a bucket compared to iPhone sales and the updated Macs even.

It just rubs me the wrong way that I can watch multi-lingual Movies and TV Shows on all major platforms, except for Apple, where I have to pay separately.

The Music might be plentful for young people, but obviously all of the copyright holders want a little piece of the pie.

The whole App collection, Music, TV, Movies all looks like a forced store front. Search is still so underwhelming, it does not even work around simple misspellings. Everything directs you to immediately buy.

It is very hard to maintain Playlists or get real suggestions for new Albums or things I like.
Not whatt Apple is trying to push on me real hard.

I also think the fragmentation like HBO, Disney and all the rest makes it more and more unattractive.
Sometimes I do not even check where or if a Movie, TV Show or Album is available at all. It just gets so complicated.

Too unorganized, too many options, very poor content discovery.
Apple should really look hard at the competition instead of buying out smaller companies.
They simply stopped leading.

And yes ... I still remember early days if iPod / iTunes with Syncing and all.
Somehow it all felt better. I'm getting old ...
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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