Business

Altadena Revises Artist Development Program, Year After Founder Busbee's Death

Busbee
Jason Davis/Getty Images for Billboard Magazine

Busbee arrives at the 2017 Billboard Country Power Players at The Westin Hotel Rooftop on Aug. 1, 2017 in Nashville.

A year after the death of songwriter-producer busbee (Carly Pearce, Maren Morris), the company he left behind, Altadena, is carrying on his artist-friendly legacy with a revolutionary artist development program that funds the startup efforts of new acts while allowing them to retain ownership of their content.

Singer-songwriter Carter Faith is the first beneficiary. Altadena issued her first song, "Leaving Tennessee," to digital service providers on July 30. A gripping second track, "Sinners in a Small Town," will be released Oct. 16 with a video following later in the month.

Under the program, an investor pays the upfront costs and Altadena provides the sweat equity to build a new artist's catalog and make initial marketing inroads. In the best circumstances, the act develops enough to field competitive offers from labels, publishers and/or booking agencies. The investor and Altadena participate contractually in early royalties, but do not participate in long-term revenue under that deal. The artist retains the masters, videos and other content.

In theory, when the artist is ready for that bigger contract, the value of their work is more apparent. The artist receives larger advances while their long-term partners see a quicker return on their investment. Altadena and the financial investor get a smaller piece of a bigger pie while establishing the act in a professional manner.

"It's a model that is not meant to be anti-major label, anti-major publisher, anti- anything," says Altadena president Daniel Lee. "What it's really meant to do is to put everybody in a position where they can choose to partner at the right time for the right reasons. And they really know what they're getting into in terms of the creative, but also in terms of the team on the other side."

The artist development program comes in addition to Altadena's existing publishing relationships with Warner Chappell and BMG, and its label relationship with Los Angeles-based Warner Records.

This article first appeared in the weekly Billboard Country Update newsletter. Click here to subscribe for free.

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