It may raise a few eyebrows to learn that major-label Warner Music Group now has an executive role whose title includes ‘president of independent music’. Actually, it’s not a surprise: the company’s new president of independent music and creator services is Eliah Seton, who’s been promoted from his previous position as president of ADA Worldwide, WMG’s in-house distribution arm for independent artists and labels. He’s also been in charge of the launch of Level, WMG’s new distributor for unsigned artists, as well as the relaunch of the Asylum Records imprint to focus on streaming-first, flexible deals for emerging artists.
In its announcement of his expanded role, WMG said that Seton has “more than doubled” the size of ADA’s business since taking over there in 2015. “Eliah champions the indie community and artistic diversity with a true fan’s passion, a musician’s sensibility, and an entrepreneur’s ingenuity,” said WMG’s recorded-music boss Max Lousada.
There’s no doubt that independent-distribution is a growing strategic priority for major labels: in its recent Wintel report, indie-body WIN estimated that nearly $1.5bn of independent-label revenues in 2017 came from labels and artists whose music was distributed by the major labels – more than a fifth of overall independent sector revenues that year.