Ditto Music is headquartered in the UK, while Opulous is headquartered in Singapore.
Lee Parsons: Ditto Music
Ditto Music, a distribution and label services company, was co-founded by Lee Parsons and his brother Matt Parsons in 2007.
According to Lee, the company was established in an apartment in Smethwick, Birmingham (UK). This, in turn, sat under a densely-populated apartment, says Parsons, which was packed with people “smoking crack all day”.
Today, Ditto offers distribution, PR, publishing, marketing, and strategy services to independent artists and labels.
Parsons launched Ditto with a focus on independent labels and artists, offering these varied services to their clients and allowing them to own the masters and rights to their music.
Ditto has worked with artists including Ed Sheeran, Clairo, Sam Smith, and Chance the Rapper. The company has since expanded into artist management and has created a platform that automates royalty payments. They have processed over $1 billion in royalty payments as of July 2022.
Lee Parsons: Opulous
In the beginning of 2018, Lee Parsons and Ditto Music founded Opulous, a decentralized blockchain music company that enables fans to invest in artists and own shares in their music. As of June 2021, Opulous had secured over $6.5 million in seed funding from firms including Borderless Capital, TrustVerse, Somesing, BASIC, and Kosmos Capital.
Opulous allows artists to bypass the traditional banking industry for loans, thus providing artists an escape from hefty interest payments while still providing access to funding. Opulous’s loans are guaranteed against artists past streaming revenue with their copyrights as collateral. The company’s music loans are also backed by future royalties.
Opulous utilizes Ditto’s already-developed royalty payment automation system for monthly premium and interest repayments, as well as for paying out profits to investors.
Opulous users can invest and trade in what the company calls “Music Fungible Tokens,” giving music listeners a chance to profit from shares in music royalty payments.
Ditto Music said it launched Opulous with a focus on its user base of 250,000+ smaller artists who are usually ineligible for financial support from the banking industry.
Artists who are not affiliated with Ditto can also use Opulous. The platform is built on the Algorand public blockchain, guaranteeing users and artists a transfer time of 4.5 seconds or below.
Lee Parsons: Professional philosophy
Speaking to Music Business Worldwide in 2018, discussing the beginnings of his career in music, Lee Parsons said: “My brother and I actually auditioned for [then-Island Records UK boss] Darcus Beese, when I was a rapper. That was about 13 years ago.
“We went through the whole industry thing – we had a management deal with Albert Samuel who had Blazin’ Squad and So Solid Crew and we signed a publishing deal with EMI. But it’s the classic story: we didn’t get to put any music out.
“Me and Matt went back home to where we lived, Smethwick, and we were frustrated by it all. The whole Ditto thing started from us trying to release our own songs. I went down to [music retailer] HMV that Christmas; I waited an hour to speak to a woman and asked if we could get our CD in the shop and she literally laughed at us and said there was no chance.”
He added: “All the majors fret about market share, but [Ditto is] not interested in that game – we just want to know who’s got the next Adele coming through. That’s where we can compete. We want to be the best, not the biggest, music company in the world. And I really believe that’s what we can become.”
“We want to be the best, not the biggest, music company in the world. And I really believe that’s what we can become.”
Lee Parsons on Ditto Music
In an op/ed written for MBW in 2021, Lee Parsons said: “I was a musician before I started Ditto in 2007, before Spotify existed, and let me tell you, it was awful. We had one option: get signed to a record label. If you wanted to release music, that was your only choice.
“All that has changed now. Independent artists aren’t having to water down their sound to please cloth-eared radio directors. They’re not awkwardly grinning through record company meetings (I’ve done this in all of the major label offices) while their career rests in the hands of an executive busy thinking about his dinner that night at Nobu. And, thankfully, they’re not playing horrendous press showcases in members’ clubs like I did – clubs I couldn’t even afford to join – in front of disinterested newspaper journalists chowing down on canapés and free booze.
“Today, a huge number of independent artists are making real money, completely on their own terms, doing what they love, and building fanbases who love it too.
“Let me be clear for any politicians reading: thanks to streaming, and the destruction of the power of the music industry gatekeepers, there are more artists making a good living from recorded music today than at any time in HISTORY.”Music Business Worldwide