The system-disrupting startup raised millions from Alphabet, Andreessen Horowitz, 21st Century Fox and Floodgate.
Onlookers have been bemoaning their downfall for years, but the reality is that record labels are still a dominant force in today's music industry. While the traditional, contractual skeletons behind labels may be breaking down, the core functional roles of financial and marketing support, plus taking a cut of royalties, are alive and well.
One company might now have the money necessary to enact more disruptive, meaningful change -- if that’s really the end goal it wants. Steve Stoute, former president of Interscope Records and CEO of ad agency Translation, announced yesterday (Nov. 15) the launch of a new artist services company called UnitedMasters that aims to scale and operationalize smarter data analytics and insights for the DIY artist community. The company, which will operate as a subsidiary of Translation Enterprises, has been running in stealth over the past several months, and has raised $70 million from an A-list investor slate including Alphabet, Andreessen Horowitz, 21st Century Fox and Floodgate. Several employees from Translation and Pandora have transitioned to the company, while former Etsy CFO Kristina Salen has joined the team as CFO/COO.
In a blog post following the launch, Jack Krawczyk, chief product officer at United Masters and former vp of product management at Pandora, revealed that the inspiration behind building a new service from the ground up was the concept of a "music data chasm," which Krawczyk defined as a gap between "the information behind how people listen to music (via streaming and physical sales) and how they experience music in the real world (inside their social feeds, IRL at live concerts, merchandising, and other externalities that music generates)."