This story is part BillboardThe third annual package from highlights trends defining the independent music industry.
Although around 60,000 songs are uploaded to Spotify every day, unsigned and independent artists have recently found themselves with more options than ever when it comes to funding their careers – and using that cash flow. to stand out in a crowded space.
In this rapidly changing landscape, companies like Indify, beatBread, and Cash App’s Cash App Studios have materialized, offering funding and advances to independent artists without asking for ownership of the intellectual property in return. Unlike a label service provider or distributor, these companies do not provide a dedicated team of professionals dedicated to your project; instead, their monetary investments are left open-ended, so what you do with your funding is (mostly) up to you.
“We believe that bundling services with funding can create friction,” says beatBread co-founder/CEO Peter Sinclair. “If artists can keep these conversations separate, they are often better served.”
The most active of the three backers, Indify, compares itself to an angel investment platform. “Indify is really committed to choosing investors who can provide mentorship or artist development in addition to capital for the careers of early-stage artists,” says co-founder/CEO Shav Garg. With investors like Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian and others, every indie artist who works with the company will have Indify to play matchmaker. “It’s about helping artists realize their full potential when they’re living their first moment,” says Garg. “The right partner, the right time and the right amount of capital [are] crucial.”
In an ideal scenario, investments will be recouped (and even more), with investors earning a percentage of the artist’s streaming royalties. While not all independent artists are eligible for funding, the startup uses data-driven insights to find artists who are growing in popularity organically but could use an additional monetary push.
So far, according to Connor Lawrence, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Indify, “the majority of deals are profitable.” Each deal varies, but Indify has a few requirements: artists retain ownership of the masters, investors can’t earn more than 50% of the artist’s streaming profits after recovery, and the artist must retain creative control.
This last point is paramount for beatBread, an advanced funding option only for unsigned talent. “We want you to have the freedom to choose your own team,” Sinclair says. A more open platform than Indify, beatBread is generally willing to fund artists with over 10,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, and artists design their own deals based on parameters such as duration, capital needed, and share. catalog and/or future streaming license fees. . Then the proposed deal – which can range from $1,000 to $1 million – is reviewed by the beatBread team and verified. “We’re 100% successful in transferring money to artists’ accounts, and whatever you do with that money is up to you.” Sinclair said. But in their experience, most artists put upfront on paying collaborator fees, creating music videos, and funding digital marketing campaigns.
Cash App, the popular financial app, is a rarity in this space: with its new Cash App Studios initiative, the company distributes monetary gifts to artists in music, fashion and entertainment without asking anything in return. According to Victoria Monét, an independent artist and songwriter for Ariana Grande, receiving funding from the company has been the “most non-invasive, pro-creative and supportive partner I have ever worked with.” Unlike other startups, Cash App Studios has the advantage of giving away money freely in the form of goodwill – and good PR – to musicians.
And while these companies see themselves as a viable new option for independent artists, the ultimate goal is to empower DIYers to make their own choices when the time comes. “We don’t see ourselves as replacements for labels,” says Matthew Tilley, head of artist and industry relations at beatBread. “We just give them options.”
This story originally appeared in the October 23, 2021 issue of Billboard.