Apple and Alphabet Back Music Startup UnitedMasters in a $50 Million Funding Round

By Mariliana Fotopoulou Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The US-based music startup company UnitedMasters secured $50 million in a Series B round led by Apple, while Alphabet and venture capital (VC) firm Andreessen Horowitz also took part. Apart from the investment, UnitedMasters and Apple have also entered into a business partnership.

A gold music note on top of a pile of dollar bills.

Use Funding to Expand the Team

The startup company was founded in 2017 by former Interscope and Sony Music executive Steve Stoute. Its core business is to offer music artists direct access to data, allow them to directly provide tickets and merchandise, and make other commercial steps.

Also, the music startup typically lets artists stay in control of their own masters, which is not typical in the music industry. Generally, record labels have control over all of the audience and targeting data and masters.

This approach restricts an artist’s agility and leverages new technologies to support a community. The company is looking to provide a technical advantage that would allow artists to develop their own fan bases at a community level.

Apple also made an unusual step, as the tech business titan usually makes business investments via its Advanced Manufacturing Fund (AMF) to foster manufacturing in the US or strategically invests in business collaborators that provide it with core components.

Generally-looking, Apple has always been more focused on making business acquisitions rather than investing in a startup. That’s why its business partnership with UnitedMasters is not typical for the tech company and is considered unique.

Chief Executive of the startup company, Steve Stoute, praised Apple executive Eddy Cue for sharing the UnitedMasters’s vision regarding this business deal.

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

The music startup will use an investment from Apple and Alphabet to hire mission-oriented talent to help take the tech company global. The startup is currently in search of local technical staff and artists to develop a worldwide business platform.

“Every artist needs access to a CTO. Some of the value of what a manager is today for an artist needs to be transferred to that role,” Stoute added.

At the moment, UnitedMasters has partnerships with some big names, including NBA, ESPN, TikTok, Twitch, and other companies that provide artists with an opportunity to strike business deals with notorious companies.

In contrast, such business deals are normally brokered by a record label and a manager. The company also has an app for direct distribution that allows publishing to all of the major streaming platforms.

“Steve Stoute and UnitedMasters provide creators with more opportunities to advance their careers and bring their music to the world. 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,” said Apple executive Eddy Cue.

Summary

The music startup company UnitedMasters raised $50 million in a Series B round led by Apple, while Alphabet and VC Andreessen Horowitz. Two companies have also entered a strategic business partnership.

About the Author


Headshot for author Mariliana Fotopoulou

Mariliana has an MSC in consumer analytics and business strategy. She has a special interest in fast-moving industries and big data.

Related Articles