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Apple invests $50M into music distributor UnitedMasters alongside A16z and Alphabet – TechCrunch

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Independent music distribution platform and tool factory UnitedMasters has raised a $50M series B round led by Apple. A16z and Alphabet are participating again in this raise. United Masters is also entering a strategic partnership with Apple alongside this investment

If you’re unfamiliar with UnitedMasters, it’s a distribution company launched in 2017 by Steve Stoute, a former Interscope and Sony Music executive. The focus of UnitedMasters is to provide artists with a direct pipeline to data around how fans are interacting with their content and community, allowing them to connect more directly to offer tickets, merchandise, and other commercial efforts. UnitedMasters also generally will enable artists to retain control of their masters.

Neither of these conditions is at all typical in the music industry. In a specific artist deal, recording companies retain all audience and target data as well as masters. This limits an artist’s ability to be agile, allowing new technologies to foster a community. 

While Apple invests in various companies, it typically does so out of its Advanced Manufacturing Fund to promote US manufacturing or strategically in partners that make critical components of its hardware like silicon foundries or glass manufacturing. Apple does a lot more purchasing than investing, typically buying a company every few weeks or so to supplement one product effort or another. UnitedMasters, then, would be a relatively unique partnership, especially in the music space. 

I spoke to UnitedMasters CEO Steve Stoute about the deal and what it means for 1M current artists and new ones. Stoute credits Apple executive Eddy Cue’s philosophy aligned with the UnitedMasters vision of getting this deal done. 

“We want all artists to have the same opportunity,” says Stoute. “Currently, independent artists have less opportunity for success, and we’re trying to remove that stigma.”

Stoute says this infusion will be used to hire mission-oriented talent to take UnitedMasters global. They’re seeking local technical talent and artists talent to build out the platform worldwide.  “Every artist needs access to a CTO,” Stoute says. “Some of the value of what a manager is a today for an artist needs to be transferred to that role.”

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Tristan McCue is a 26-year-old junior programmer who enjoys reading, binge-watching boxed sets, and appearing in the background on TV. He is smart and friendly, but can also be very evil and a bit lazy.He is an Australian Christian. He has a post-graduate degree in computing.
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