Apple invests $50 million into music distributor supporting independent artists

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Apple invests $50 million into music distributor supporting independent artists


Apple Inc.
AAPL,
+2.84%

is investing in independent music artists.

The tech giant led a $50 million fundraising round for UnitedMasters, a three-year-old artist-services company that helps musicians distribute and market their music while allowing them to keep their copyrights.

Launched in 2017 with $70 million in Silicon Valley backing, UnitedMasters is an alternative to the traditional major label system, which typically requires artists to give up the rights to their music in exchange for an advance, distribution, marketing and promotion. Artists choose to pay a $5 monthly subscription fee or give a 10% take to UnitedMasters, and retain ownership of their music. The company has released music from more than one million artists, including NLE Choppa, Lil Tecca, Lil XXEL, and recent breakouts Tobe Nwigwe and Curtis Roach, whose “Bored in the House” went viral on TikTok during the pandemic lockdowns.

The investment ties into how Apple, which operates the world’s second-largest streaming service by subscriptions, has positioned itself as creator-friendly. The investment is also a sign that new types of deals independent artists make to get their music out into the world are multiplying and taking hold in the industry.

An expanded version of this article appears on WSJ.com.

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