Apple partners with music distributor UnitedMasters

UnitedMasters has secured a $50 million Series B investment. This round of funding was led by Apple along with funding from two other existing backers being Google’s parent Alphabet and Andreessen Horowitz.

If you’re unfamiliar with UnitedMasters, it’s a distribution company launched in 2017 by Steve Stoute, a former Interscope and Sony Music executive. The focus of UnitedMasters is to provide artists with a direct pipeline to data around the way that fans are interacting with their content and community, allowing them to connect more directly to offer tickets, merchandise and other commercial efforts. UnitedMasters also generally allows artists to retain control of their own masters.

UnitedMasters says that the investment will fuel its mission which is

“to enable artists to maintain full ownership over their work while expanding their economic opportunity and introducing them to millions of new fans”.

UnitedMasters CEO Steve Stoute said that the intention is to better support more independent artists. Specifically, it’s aimed at providing technical support that gets artists a more direct connection with their fans.

“We want all artists to have the same opportunity,” said Stoute. “Currently, independent artists have less opportunity for success and we’re trying to remove that stigma.”

“Every artist needs access to a CTO [Chief Technology Officer],”

he continued.

“Some of the value of what a manager is today for an artist needs to be transferred to that role.”

This move also marks another step from Apple into the independent artist space, following its acquisition of prominent artist services, A&R and distribution company Platoon in 2018.

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