UnitedMasters, a Black-owned music distribution platform for independent artists, secured a $50 million investment led by Apple, VentureBeat reports. Apple leading this investment in UnitedMasters is rare, and this deal begins a new strategic partnership between the pair.
UnitedMasters was founded in 2017 by former Sony Music executive Steve Stoute. The company is on a mission to democratize the music industry by developing a platform that allows emerging artist to earn money and distribute their music to other notable platforms like Apple Music and Spotify. What’s unique about UnitedMasters is that artists get to retain full ownership over their work.
“Were changing an industry and giving an opportunity to independent artists,” Stoute told VentureBeat. “I’m not thinking about the Taylor Swift that exists that we all know and love. I’m thinking about the next young girl who plays a guitar and could write a song that wants to be Taylor Swift.”
Stoute said he plans to use the Series B to expand internationally, do more tech research and development and hire more talent. UnitedMasters currently has a team of 250 employees.
This new investment round includes participation from existing investors, Alphabet and Andreessen Horowitz. Apple’s participation is rare since the company normally does a lot more purchasing than investing.
Roughly a million artists have signed up to use UnitedMasters’ platform and for $5 a month, they get access to all of their music royalties. Users can also skip those monthly payments and retain a 90 percent share of their royalties, while UnitedMasters gets 10 percent. UnitedMasters has partnerships with NBA, ESPN, TikTok, Twitch and other brands for artists on its platform to work with.
“Steve Stoute and UnitedMasters provide creators with more opportunities to advance their careers and bring their music to the world,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services, said in a press release. “The contributions of independent artists play a significant role in driving the continued growth and success of the music industry, and UnitedMasters, like Apple, is committed to empowering creators.”