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
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 1:24pm

    Re: So what?

    This one is not likely to maximize expected earnings for him

    Got any data to back that up? Are you some sort of prognosticator that you can know this?

    And the maximization of earnings is the metric capitalism accepts as universal and that matters at large scale, and sustainable operation schemes have to end up working at large scale.

    No. Just no. That's not how any of this works.

    If you accept the premises and metrics of capitalism

    Not your definition I don't.

    I mean, we get the chant "it's for the artist" for extending copyright protection to durations where the people profiting from it are pretty certainly not yet born by the time the artist dies.

    Which is why nobody here is for extending copyright beyond the death of the artist.

    Not grabbing as much as you can, even if you will never be able to use it yourself, is a sign of weakness.

    No, that's a sign of straight up greed and is quite telling about your true motives. Plenty of people don't care about "maximizing their profits", they are out to make a good product. Profits are secondary, if that. Some people just do it because they like it.

    As long as you don't get people to rethink the metrics, the choices of such artists are not just foolish but invalid.

    Only if you're trying to protect the old school record labels and studios. If you're not, well, then it makes much more sense what he did. He chose the better deal. Adapt or get over it.

    People who "arbitrarily" don't make the choices maximizing profit are not setting relevant examples as long as their metrics don't match what society considers the most desirable outcome for an individual.

    So we're supposed to judge ourselves and our success based on what other people think we should do? You're a hoot. Pro-gamers likely got told in their teens they could never make money playing video games, that's just kid stuff, you'll grow out of it. Who's laughing now that those same gamers are raking in millions each year?


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