As a company trying to persuade emerging artists that they don’t need a label, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see UnitedMasters’ execs taking potshots at the traditional label system. The latest, from CEO Steve Stoute, focuses on the issue of artists owning their masters. “I know we’re doing something right. I know we’re pissing somebody off. I also know that our intentions are to do great things to help unlock the value for the artist community,” he told Billboard.

“This is Nas not owning Illmatic. These things to me are, they’ve been hiding-in-plain-sight issues for many, many years. I certainly don’t want Taylor Swift and Scooter Braun’s beef to overshadow how many years artists have been getting robbed – robbed – because of wanting a record deal.”

Stoute had a close-up view of the dealmaking around that particular album, as Nas’ manager back in the 1990s – but also as a powerful executive within the label system that was offering such deals to artists. It emphasises his journey of gamekeeper to poacher (or is it the other way around?) in launching UnitedMasters. “If you stream our artists, know that the artist is actually getting paid. If you’re a patron of the arts, you should definitely look at our roster, because we are clearly the ultimate patron of the arts…”

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Music Ally's Head of Insight

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