Teen Musician Turns Down $3 Million Record Deal: No Need For A Label Thanks To The Internet

from the thanks,-internet dept

There's a pretty fascinating profile last week in Billboard magazine of teenage musician/rapper NLE Choppa who just turned down a $3 million record label deal. Choppa (real name: Bryson Potts) rocketed to fame thanks to YouTube, where his Shotta Flow video was uploaded just last month, but has over 10 million views.

When given the chance to sign with a bunch of different labels all bidding for him, he decided to take a very different deal -- one where he retains all the rights and just partners with a distribution company, UnitedMasters:

Within a month, Choppa, whose real name is Bryson Potts, had sparked a bidding war among record companies like Republic, Interscope and Caroline, with bids reaching as high as $3 million. This kind of story is familiar: Young, local rapper goes viral; labels pounce. But this week, the rapper tells Billboard, he turned down those offers to enter a distribution partnership with UnitedMasters, Steve Stoute’s independent distribution company, without an advance and while retaining full ownership of his master recordings.

And why doesn't he need a full on record label deal? Because of the internet and all of the various internet services out there that are already making him wealthy:

Stoute says that when the “Shotta Flow” music video caught the eye of UnitedMasters’ A&R team last month, he immediately reached out to Choppa and the rapper's mother, who was acting as his manager, offering distribution for the song. Choppa agreed. “Then, record companies are calling the guy and offering a bunch of money,” Stoute tells Billboard. “Here’s the issue: He’s already just seen, with him owning the rights and us doing distribution, he’s earning money on Spotify and Apple Music, and his song is growing on YouTube. What does he need a record company to do?”

Let's repeat that for those of you who are a bit slow in class:

He’s already just seen, with him owning the rights and us doing distribution, he’s earning money on Spotify and Apple Music, and his song is growing on YouTube. What does he need a record company to do?

Just last week we were talking about how many independent artists are embracing the internet to avoid the legacy gatekeepers.

Meanwhile, bureaucrats and recording industry lobbyists keep insisting that the EU needs Article 13 because the internet is unfair to artists? They're saying that there's a "value gap" because of YouTube? Maybe, just maybe, Article 13 has a lot more to do with the fact that the labels are losing relevance. When an artist like Choppa can retain his rights, build a massive audience, and make a ton of money thanks to internet platforms and does not need a label or all the downsides of a label deal, it certainly suggests that the "problem" Article 13 is claiming to solve might not be an actual problem. Indeed, the real "problem" that Article 13 seems to solve is the fact that the labels aren't needed as much any more. And that's not actually a problem for anyone who isn't, you know, a record label.

Filed Under: article 13, bryson potts, copyright, internet, nle choppa, record labels, shotta flow
Companies: unitedmasters


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  1. identicon
    Joseph Sanchez, 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:55am

    Music Industry revenues and trends tell the real story

    This article oversimplifies the issue and has an obvious bias. The real story is told by music industry revenues and trends along with the more complex question of whether or not it is more difficult or easier for an unknown to get a break like Choppa has experienced.

    The facts are that music revenues tanked from a peak during the late 90s, and have yet to recover anywhere near late 90s levels. It must be said that the late 90s represented an artificial high when the economics of music were all aligned to maximize profits, but it is still an important observation. More difficult to prove, but still factual is that while revenues have started to recover in the past decade, most of that revenue is limited to A list artists. In the 90s mid level acts could make a lot of money selling CDs and touring, but that is not the case today. A list artists like Taylor Swift are absorbing far more of the revenue growth than they did in the 90s.

    The more complex question is how healthy is the music industry? This question goes beyond simple economics. If you like an industry that allows for maximum creativity and opportunities for unique and/or risky artists where middle class artists can make a living the answer seems to be "no". A growing body of evidence suggests that music is being simplified and creativity is not rewarded. For example, the "8 second hook" effect has been amply discussed and even analyzed using data algorithms- musicians know that they have to hook their listener in the first 8 seconds or risk having their song skipped.

    Articles like this miss the bigger picture and fail to ask what the effect on music culture has been, which is much more important. The musical middle class seems to be disappearing, and unique and creative artists are often creating less because there are less opportunities to monetize their art. Stories like Choppa are inspiring, but the question is whether or not his story is a false positive? The evidence for those who know the industry seems to be yes, which in my opinion is not good for the arts.


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