As we go into 2018, there are very real concerns about sustainable business models for music journalism, with magazines shutting or slimming down and websites scratching about for revenues.
But there are some other models for music journalists emerging: from the original-content divisions of streaming services to commissions from labels.
Universal Music Enterprises’ new initiative falls into the latter category: a site called Urban Legends which essentially digs back in UMG’s urban-music catalogue to tell the stories of artists and albums, much in the same way that magazines like Mojo or Uncut would.
“I noticed Universal was dependent upon media outlets to really get the message out about our releases, or anniversaries. We needed outside media for whatever it was that we were trying to bring to the market. So, I started thinking about that system and how we as a label had an opportunity to be part of the conversation,” UMG’s Andre Torres told Billboard.
“Urban Legends enables us to be connected to the fans. That is really where I see editorial coming in as a marketing vehicle. When you look at content now, people are really looking for more insight, and context. I felt like we as the label could provide more of that content.”
The downside for fans is that a label-run initiative may sometimes be tempted to shy away from difficult topics around an artist’s history, although as Torres points out, the upside may be that it is not “advertiser and clicks driven”.