“How important is a record deal now? Bieber was one of the first discovered through social media, then he went off and signed the record deals and the rest, but I wonder how important those deals are now, and in the future?”
Jeff Smith, chief executive of music apps developer Smule, is mulling a question from Music Ally about the role its 25m-strong community can play in discovering new singers, and whether the next logical step for those people will be label deals.
It’s not a silly question: in May, British singer Tom Bleasby claimed to be fielding calls from labels after his virtual duet with Jessie J using Smule’s Sing! Karaoke app went viral on Facebook and YouTube.
But back to Smith. “I’ve got nothing against the labels: I think they’ve played an important role, but I think they’re increasingly less relevant. Certainly from a marketing standpoint because artist management has taken that over.”