When veteran producer David Kahne (Regina Spektor, Paul McCartney, Kelly Clarkson) was leaving his A&R position at Columbia Records in the mid-'90s, more than 200 artists were on the label's roster. Not only are there less than half as many acts on Columbia today, many of the bands that would've signed with a major label for support have carved out sustainable careers on their own funded primarily by touring and synch licenses, a growing trend that appealed to Kahne.
"I'm working with three artists right now who--they're not wealthy--have homes and do all kinds of good stuff yet none of them are signed," he says. "They come in with big budgets for their records, like six figures, and look at licensing in a different way. If they can do a song and get some synchs on it, they don't care."
Five upcoming artists Kahne's been working with are at the helm of a new label services venture, Record Breaker Music, conceived and owned by music supervisor Adam Joseph of Face the Music and distributed by Sony's RED. Initial Record Breaker releases include singles and music videos from signings Basic Vacation, James McCartney, Miss Stylie, Josh Moran and the Ivorys with the primary purpose of getting the songs placed in commercials. The artists keep all the rights to the music and have the option to sign with a label at any time.