Music Column

will.i.am defines new era of music industry, joining Mobile Record Label’s startup Amuse

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Music legend will.i.am is making his mark on the future of record labels by investing in Amuse, a mobile record label with more than 15,000 artists using the app, says music columnist Phoebe Smith.

UPDATED: Sept. 12 at 1:17 a.m.

The future of the record label has become less and less clear in recent years. Artists have increasingly spoken out against the control labels have over their music, money and career.

From Kesha’s legal battle with Dr. Dre to Prince describing record contracts as “slavery,” labels have always been questioned. There has always been some corruption or drama surrounding these music powerhouses.

will.i.am is defining a new type of record industry as he joins the startup Amuse, something Billboard describes as “keeping an eye on the future.” Amuse is the world’s first mobile record label and relies heavily on data through its app.

The app is used by more than 15,000 artists — eight who signed to the label and enjoy a licensed deal and complete ownership of their work. For artists who have not signed on, the app can be used to publish and analyze consumption data through the music that’s released. The app can also be used to find upcoming artists that otherwise might not be discovered. On top of all this, Amuse offers a partnership deal with the artists to help them grow in their career. With will.i.am’s involvement, the app will get a boost in users and recognition.

The company collaborates with others in the music industry to promote the recognition and publicity of Japanese and United States artists. It provides full management services for the band “ONE OK ROCK,” a Japanese rock band that went on tour with 5 Seconds of Summer in 2016.

Amuse also provides support for Perfume, a J-Pop band, and BABYMETAL, a Japanese metal idol band. Amuse specializes in the management of artists and promotes artists to perform in the U.S. in addition to creating events and concerts.

Amuse provides free digital distribution for artists to all the major platforms, according to Billboard. The aim of this project is full transparency. Amuse offers free income analytics, which are used to launch the artist. This appealed to will.i.am because to him the contractual side of Amuse seemed less binding, which has been a consistent problem with record labels.

“This is the next logical step for the music industry and gives every music-preneur full control of every aspect of their own artistic career,” said will.i.am in an interview on Amuse’s website. “It all comes down to full transparency where the artist keeps control over their own material and also has full access to all information of their listeners and fans.”

will.i.am is promoting an innovative way for labels to be labels by joining this mobile record label.

Amuse is putting the control back in the artists’ hands completely, which is a very big step in unfamiliar territory for the music industry. Amuse co-founder and CEO Diego Farias said he doesn’t believe in a future where labels buy rights, according to the interview. Younger artists don’t think highly of selling their rights to another party. Amuse works as the artists’ partner, in a different kind of relationship between a label and an artist — one where the artist has all of the control as opposed to the other way around.

The record label industry is changing every day as the music business changes every day. It will be interesting to see where Amuse goes after will.i.am comes on board. He is already opening doors for smaller artists and tastemakers alike just by joining the Amuse team.

Phoebe Smith is a senior public relations major. Her column appears biweekly. You can email her at phsmith@syr.edu or follow her on Twitter @phoebesmithh5.

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