Unilever launches its own music ‘label’ with Axe deodorant (but make sure you read the fine print)

Consumer goods giant Unilever is entering the music rights business… sort of.

One of the company’s grooming brands for men, Axe, has partnered with SoundCloud to launch a music campaign called Axe The Label.

It’s the first project in the US to be associated with a new ‘Axe Music’ platform and gives emerging rappers and producers an opportunity to collaborate on tracks with Lil Yachty and Zaytoven via SoundCloud.

Prize winners will see their winning contributions added to the Axe and the Music playlist on SoundCloud as well as being listed as a co-writer/co-producer on the finished songs.

But, there’s a catch.

MBW has dug into the competition rules and discovered that prize winners will “receive $2,500, awarded in the form of a check, as a complete buyout and ‘work for hire'”.

In other words, you’ll see your name listed on the songwriting credits… but won’t get any royalties.

The grand prize winners will also get a custom Axe can worth $100 (as will the seven honourable mention prize winners).

Furthermore, the rules state that the songwriting credit will only be granted while the songs are featured on the the SoundCloud playlist and until June 30 next year.

The recorded music rights to the song will be owned by Universal/Capitol Records (Lil Yachty’s major label), while publishing rights go to Universal Music Publishing Group.

According to the rules: “Grand prize winners understand that they get songwriting credit for the time their song is featured on the playlist on SoundCloud and for promotional purposes through June 30, 2019, they will receive a cash prize, as indicated above but they do not have any further rights to the lyrical contributions they have made as part of the contest, and do not own the song.

“By submitting an entry, you (and parent/legal guardian if you are a minor in your state of residence) and winners/collaborators hereby acknowledge and agree that your/their entry, and all right, title and interest therein, becomes the property of Capitol Records and Universal Music Publishing (and full ownership is assigned to them) and it is considered a “work for hire”, and a complete buyout of entry, with no further compensation provided or owed to you, as entrant or winner.”

The competition is split into two phases: Phase 1 runs from October 1 – 28 and will allow fans to submit lyrics for the hook of Lil Yachty’s new track ANARCHY, using the SoundCloud commenting feature.

Phase 2, which runs from October 29 – November 16 will see producer Zaytoven share two instrumental tracks, Gold and Phoenix, which give up-and-coming rappers the opportunity “to flow over either track for a chance to win”.

Producers can enter to win by using the associated beat and stem packs to create brand-new tracks.

Two rappers and seven producers will be selected by Zaytoven and a panel of music industry insiders to be featured on the playlist.

“The old way of coming up in the game is over.”

Lil Yachty

“The old way of coming up in the game is over,” said Lil Yachty. “If you got the talent and the drive, there are ways to get noticed. True music fans are on that platform, cause that’s where the new wave lives.

“I got on when ‘One Night’ blew up on SoundCloud. Someone heard my track, used it in a meme and I haven’t looked back. So to continue my partnership with AXE and take it back to SoundCloud is like a homecoming.”

Said Dawn Hedgepeth, Vice President of Men’s Grooming, Unilever: “At its core, AXE is about helping young people confidently embrace and express their true selves, so investing in aspiring creators who devote their energy to that same pursuit is something we’ve always been passionate about.

“Hip-hop artists have never settled, never confined themselves to the limits of convention, genre, or process. They’ve always experimented while staying true to themselves. That’s what Axe the Label is all about.”

“What’s next in music is first on SoundCloud because of the incredible community of emerging creators and super fans powering the platform,” said Chris Blackburn, Head of Global Sales and Partnerships, SoundCloud.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Axe to offer both fans and creators a unique opportunity to help create new music with two of the biggest artists in the world by leaning into the inherently social nature of SoundCloud.”Music Business Worldwide

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