Distrokid Snuggles Up To The Majors in a move claiming will help artists. I think something larger is at hand.
Distrokid snuggles up to the major record labels still kicking around via new service to be called ‘Upstream’. The intention of the service is to place independent, unsigned musicians in touch directly with labels. If that isn’t an attempt at shooting innocent fish in a barrel, I don’t know if we’re speaking the same language. The majors are a thing of the past. This is a desperate move at relevancy. The shame is it may work.
Distrokid Founder and CEO, Philip Kaplan, spoke of Upstream in a blog post today, January 28, 2021, about Upstream. In the very first sentence of Kaplan’s post you know he’s full of it. He’s stuffing his pockets with ‘finder’s fees’ they will be associating off acts signing with these labels as he claims,
“Many artists want to stay independent. But some don’t. For artists who are interested in signing with a record label, we’ve built Upstream.”
I do appreciate his lack of pushing the agenda straight onto the artist immediately. I really do. At least there is some attempt to hide how much Distrokid is snuggling up to the majors. What annoys me here is the big picture. As the largest Music Distribution Company in the World, Distrokid is an obvious target for the labels to snatch talent easily. Kaplan attempts an audible from this when he writes,
“We’re told by labels — major and indie — that the bulk of new artists they sign use DistroKid. Because of this, labels often ask us for help finding more artists to sign (we haven’t).”
No, really? As the biggest Distribution Company around, most who sign with labels got their start with you. . . No . . WAY!!! MIND BLOWING!!! Yeah, checks out. Your logic is sound….
Spotify Has always Been Knocking At The Gates
Distrokid snuggling up to the majors confirms this AS a cash grab. Due to a fortunate and early partnership with Spotify, Distrokid has been raking it in forever. It’s actually a respectable music business move to dip into both sides, streaming services and record label like we see is being done. That is, if it weren’t our catalogs Kaplan was toying with.
I’m Reaching The Point, I Promise
Here’s the problem with all of this. First, we can be sure to see labels abusing the naivete of acts excited by someone listening. Youthful excitement in this scenario is the thing movies are about! The sad part is this excitement is an easy way to slip their royalties into label pockets via the actual record deal. Second, with Spotify standing as such a threat, we’re only seeing the darkest of both businesses come forth at this time. Ruthless and cunning endeavors that are pissing matches against one another.
The next unfortunate part is that there will be a moment the money is too enticing from either side to NOT join forces. That sounds like a nightmare if I ever heard one … A Spotify Label. I just puked in my mouth a bit.
With Spotify Clearly Outpacing The Labels
It’s apparent who won this battle. And who is really snuggling up to who here. Distrokid, as they always have been, are just the middleman to the destruction of the music industry as we thought we knew or saw it. Now they are starting a service to connect interested acts with interested labels. That sounds to me like you got too ‘indie’ to keep operating with the artist at heart. Had you not picked one or the other side, Kaplan, they each held enough of your future in their hands to be the ones calling the shots.
Distrokid Is Not Really The Problem Here
It’s that there is something odd going on within the Industry for maybe a year or so now. The big boys are making tremendous moves at securing financially viable options and living in the past. An example coming to mind immediately was the acquisition of Bob Dylan’s entire catalog. This among numerous other legends, some who made their mark as anti-establishment, have sold-out to a level of astronomical proportions. The labels are holding onto nostalgia, instead of scoping new talent like they should be. This is not the scoping of new talent. This is DATA MINING. You and your music are not being heard! This is an email transferring a bunch of excel documents back and forth. You’re a stat, my friend. They don’t need to hear you.
They always get to have their cake and eat it too. Doesn’t it always come out that way? American Folk Legend, David Crosby is another Artist of note who has recently sold his catalog. He claimed he only made the move because streaming services were zapping his ability to stay financially solvent. Okay, that’s a pretty fair reason, being bankrupted. Desperation makes one do things that are wild and impulsive sometimes. I imagine lots of the other artists who cashed their chips in either got too old to hack it or wanted to retire early. Those that never hacked it …. What I’m curious about seeing is the next moves made with these catalogs. They are being slowly gathered but what’s the play we can anticipate after they’ve run out of all the old stuff. And never bothered to find anything new. Oh, right! Distrokid snuggled up to the majors forever ago now, so I can just throw a rock and hit a band to sign, sweet!
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