story on Billboard about 16 year-old artist NLE Choppa offers evidence that startup UnitedMasters is keen to shout about its status as a potential rival to labels.

After more than 10m YouTube views for his track ‘Shotta Flow’, it’s claimed that the Memphis rapper was fielding offers “as high as $3m” from labels, but that he opted to go with UnitedMasters instead.

“He’s already just seen, with him owning the rights and us doing distribution, he’s earning money on Spotify and Apple Music, and his song is growing on YouTube. What does he need a record company to do?” the company’s founder Steve Stoute told Billboard. He goes on to say that UnitedMasters, which was announced to the world in November 2017 with a $70m funding round led by Google’s parent company Alphabet, now distributes music for more than 30,000 artists.

“UnitedMasters is a record company in your pocket. Everybody’s fighting against it because they’re holding onto a legacy model: ‘We own you, you work for us, here goes the money, goodbye.’ The new model is, ‘What can we do for you?’”

NLE Choppa choosing UnitedMasters doesn’t make this THE single new model any more than other rappers signing recently to major or independent labels means the old model is still king: the point is that artists in the early stages of their career have options – and while both routes can fuel initial success, the companies in each case will be judged more on the long-term value they bring. This is clearly a PR war though: placing stories on trade sites about how rich you’re going to make your young rappers won’t be just a UnitedMasters thing, we sense…

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Music Ally's Head of Insight

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