When is a major label deal not a major label deal?
If your answer to that question is, “When an artist owns their own masters,” then you might have found the past 12 months a confusing place.
First, in November last year, we had Taylor Swift inking a global deal with Republic Records / Universal Music Group – an agreement under which she appears likely to license her music rights to UMG on a relatively short-term basis. “It’s incredibly exciting to know that I’ll own all of my masters from now on,” said Swift on Instagram when announcing that agreement. “It’s really important to me to see eye to eye with a label regarding the future of our industry.”
Those words, of course, became all the more prescient last month, thanks to Swift’s masters-related public fallout with Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun.
This week, another major music industry player is stating their joy at having struck a major label deal whereby masters are retained. This time, it’s not an artist doing the celebrating, but Pat Corcoran – the super-manager of Chance The Rapper, and therefore a key architect of one of the most talked about label-free artist campaigns of recent years.
On behalf of his entertainment company Nice Work, Corcoran has just inked a deal with Warner Records, the company formerly known as Warner Bros Records and run by Tom Corson and Aaron Bay-Schuck out of Los Angeles.
Pat Corcoran on Nice Work / Warner Records deal for 99 Neighbors
The Nice Work/ Warner Records deal covers the future releases of 99 Neighbors, a Vermont-based music troupe whose ranks include founding hip-hop vocalists, Sam Paulino and Hanknative, plus producer Somba and a range of photographers, designers and musicians.
In a press release, Corcoran noted that the Warner partnership would “allow me to work closer to the art while the label group could help amplify the distribution, marketing and promotion”.
Calling the deal “unprecedented” and “artist-first”, Corcoran further noted: “The strategy allows Nice Work to step fully into what we love and what we feel we do best; bringing artists and fans closer together via innovative marketing, unparalleled artist-first service and unrelenting determination to protect and promote creators who move us with their music.”
Over on Instagram, however, Corcoran was a little more direct in revealing significant details about the deal.
He wrote: “Masters are owned by artist, creative is owned by artist, profit sharing over royalties, all with the incredible support and platform that our collective teams provide.”
Doesn’t this sound like the sort of ‘label services’ agreement more typically offered by the likes of Sony’s The Orchard, Universal’s Caroline or Warner’s own ADA, not to mention a string of independent players, instead of a major record company deal?
Corcoran added: “Proud to be a part of big changes in the music industry. Proud of the amazing art 99 has coming.”
The debut track and video from 99 Neighbors on the Nice Work / Warner Records deal, Fake Pods, was released on Tuesday (July 30). Check it out below.
Other artists signed to Nice Work include AlunaGeorge and Knox Fortune.Music Business Worldwide