The evolution of UK-born artist services company Instrumental continues apace – as it declares that it wants to become the world’s “leading growth team for independent artists “.
Instrumental was originally best known as an innovative AI-powered A&R scouting app, helping the likes of Live Nation and Republic Records to find undiscovered artists.
More recently, though, Instrumental has turned its focus and investment to frtyfve – the firm’s own in-house artist services division.
In short, rather than recommending hot independent artists to other companies, Instrumental (via frtyfve) is increasingly signing fast-rising indie acts itself, based off the data-crunching of its AI technology.
frtyfve is then helping these artists to progress their career by laying on record label-like services, including flexible funding options.
This strategy has noticeably intensified since Instrumental accepted a minority equity investment from China’s Tencent Holdings and Tencent Music in Q4 last year.
Today (July 27), Instrumental has confirmed that, in the first six months of 2021, it has invested over £3 million ($4 million) in independent artists.
This money has been drawn down from a $13 million fund for independent artists that Instrumental announced last year, shortly after closing the Tencent investment.
What’s more, Instrumental has also today confirmed that it is now offering artists full global distribution capability – bringing in-house a service it previously outsourced to AWAL.
“Tencent was the catalyst for us to change direction, back our own data to go all in as an artist-first business.”
Conrad Withey, Instrumental
Instrumental CEO Conrad Withey said: “Tencent was the catalyst for us to change direction, back our own data to go all in as an artist-first business.
“Our mission is to be the leading growth team for independent artists on the planet”.
Discussing the $13 million Instrumental Music Fund (IMF), Withey added: “The IMF is giving us incredible flexibility in getting funding to growth stage artists just at the moment they need it – whether that’s to invest in making better music, digital marketing, content partnerships, collaborations or any number of things.”
For many in the music business, frtyfve is most famous as the company behind three charity singles by novelty act Ladbaby, each of which have hit the No.1 spot on the Official Singles Chart in consecutive years.
But perhaps the bigger story at the firm is the crop of rising indie artists who are thriving on TikTok, YouTube, social media and other platforms.
Some examples of these signings include Todrick Hall (with 3.6m YouTube subscribers), Leanna Firestone (with over 13m Likes on TikTok), and Bimini (with over 870k followers on Instagram).
The Director of frtyfve, Emma Banks, says: “We are an audience-driven, social-first business so it’s no surprise many of the artists we are helping right now are blowing up on TikTok – but our roster is extremely diverse.
“The beauty of going where the data leads you is you discover talent finding success in unexpected places or with unique musical styles that you could never have set out to find.”
“We are an audience-driven, social-first business so it’s no surprise many of the artists we are helping right now are blowing up on TikTok – but our roster is extremely diverse.”
Emma Banks, frtyfve
Inevitably, with minimal contractual barrier to them doing so, Instrumental will see some of its indie artist roster sign with major record companies: this was the case with Paravi Das (Paravi), who has over 560,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and recently inked a deal with Sony.
For Banks, such outcomes cause little to worry about – because, she says, for frtyfve “our goal is to help [artists] achieve their goals”.
Instrumental and frtyfve recently announced the launch of a virtual live events space within online game Avakin Life – the New Music Society. This drew 10m visitors in the first two months to its virtual live shows and listening parties, including a special event for Pride featuring Todrick Hall.
“our strategic partnership with Tencent is an enormous part of that and this month we’re delighted to have locked in a new distribution arrangement with them for China.”
Conrad Withey, Instrumental
Said Conrad Withey: “There is a massive strategic focus at Instrumental on putting in place innovative partnerships with social media, tech and games companies that can open up new audiences to our artists.
“Of course our strategic partnership with Tencent is an enormous part of that and this month we’re delighted to have locked in a new distribution arrangement with them for China.”
Added Withey: “Our company now has a very pure, focused purpose and that is to change the music business to the benefit of independent artists. Only this month we saw calls from the UK Parliament to make the music business fairer for artists.
“Well the good news is companies like Instrumental are already doing that, delivering solutions that guarantee artists can retain control over their economics and rights without compromising on their ambitions to grow.”Music Business Worldwide