In today’s ever competitive music industry, it can sometimes be forgotten that thanks to platforms such as Spotify, the bands and artists who create the music we all love so much often lose out on the financial rewards of their hard work. Now, new music platform Ouveer is determined to make things right, and is fighting for artists and their rights, with its focus directed at offering 100% of sales to the individuals who deserve it. Thisisthelatest spoke with Patrick McClanahan, head of artist and label relations, to find out more.
TITL: Tell me about Ouveer in your own words, and what makes it different from the other platforms out there today?
Patrick McClanahan: There are a few issues with streaming platforms that we really want to try and address and do something about. Spotify, Soundcloud and Pandora all lost money last year with Spotify losing something like $190m. The only reason Spotify is still going is because they’ve given equity to the labels – that’s what they do, and have to do, in order to sustain themselves. It’s not a valid business model. Yes, technology is moving more towards the streaming model that Spotify and other platforms offer, but at the same time, given all the issues, particularly legal ones, it’s not ready to move that way. A lot of the logistics haven’t been figured out, and even the music industry as a whole still hasn’t figured out how rights and publishing work on a grand scale. There are still people who are missing out on payments, and a host of other issues.
All these problems are the reason why we’re doing what we’re doing and launching a platform that is determined to give people and artists the rights they’re due, the payments they’re due and entitled to. We do have a streaming model but it’s not going to be like the ones that are out there right now, but it’s something we have in our long-term outlook. Artists are struggling like crazy. I read somewhere that a third of the artists out there have left their careers as musicians within the last three years, and I think people write it off but in reality, as a society that uses music as a way to help us get through things – it’s cathartic and a major aspect of our economy – the music industry is extremely important. Grant, the CEO, has produced hip-hop beats and hooks for San Francisco, Bay-Area artists and he discovered pretty quickly that, as a producer, you can’t make a lot of money – even if you’ve got a song on the radio. He said “we’ve got to fix this” and that’s sort of how Ouveer originated – the realisation of just how hard it is as a musician to make money.
TITL: Do you think the music industry will ever be able to fix the problems and the issues it’s struggling with right now, and would you agree that that’s what you’re trying to do with this new platform – to give the huge amounts of lost revenue back to the people – the bands and artists – who deserve it most, at a time when everyone, not just artists, are struggling to make ends meet in their daily lives?
PM: With all the things we’ve got planned, both for now and in the future, we just want to be the one stop destination for music, for both fans and artists. We want to provide a lot of services for musicians, whether that’s publishing help, piracy protection software, PR help, and even things like career opportunities for artists, which we will have available through partners like Music Gateway. We want to be the one core resource for musicians in particular and yes, we want to give them what they’re entitled to especially given that so many of them have lost out due to streaming, illegal downloading and things like that. The conversion rates are very poor for streaming and artists are often lucky if they make even just a few cents from each stream of one of their tracks, which is crazy and unfair.
So would you like to see the likes of Spotify and Soundcloud disappear within the next few years or do you think the streaming power that they offer to music fans will keep them going for the foreseeable future?
PM: I’ve been told and also read that Soundcloud may not be in operation by the end of this year or early next year. They may get bought out by Google, but I’m honestly not sure what’s going to happen there. Unfortunately Spotify is likely to be around for a little while longer, but our goal, in the long term is to eventually replace everybody in that sense. If you look at iTunes, they take anywhere from a 30-37% cut of sales from every song and that’s unfortunate, especially when you consider all the people who have put their time and effort into creating it, such as managers, back-up singers, musicians, producers and of course the artists themselves. Music is a product, like so many things in our lives and our belief is that it deserves to be paid for and the artists and the team that have helped create such music deserve to be compensated for their efforts.
TITL: What would you say is your ideal or ultimate market for this platform?
PM: We’re in contact with the three major labels at the moment and have had or are in discussions with roughly 85% of the music market. We think that everyone can get involved, and that’s what we’re hoping for. There’s a destination we’re hoping to get to and we’re eager for anyone who wants to come along on the journey with us as we look to the future and grow this idea we have. This is more of a long-term thing but I feel like we’re in an age now where we now have the ability to do so many things on our own, and I feel like record labels, management companies, printing presses and the like are intermediaries between the creator and their audience and are slowly going to die off. We have the tools now to manage almost anything ourselves from a business perspective. Our whole goal is to create a one-stop shop, a destination where artists can help run themselves as a business, no matter how big or small they may be.
TITL: It could be argued that social media is almost as big of a problem as streaming sites like Spotify because people can share pretty much anything they want on there, including music, so how are you going to use it as a way to grow your platform and make others aware of everything you’re wanting to do?
PM: Social media is and is going to be a huge aspect of our marketing campaign. We’re assembling a group of ambassadors to help us push things forward in those areas. There’s a number of artists we’ve spoken to who would make amazing case studies in terms of what the streaming industry has done to musicians and their careers.
One impressive statement made by the music industry were the 400 artists that banded together with Irving Azoff to make alterations to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. All these issues we’ve been discussing, it’s like, if music was paid for like it should be, as it was even six years ago when iTunes was the market leader, artists wouldn’t be in this position. The one shift in the industry that was driven by the emergence of Spotify, Pandora and Soundcloud, has impacted artists on a massive scale, and not in a good way.
Virtually every artist we have spoken to are huge advocates of what we’re doing. One of those artists is a girl who was living on the streets about three weeks before a producer heard some of her stuff, picked her up and started working with her. Some artists are most certainly more vocal about it than others, and that’s okay – we just want to start a conversation, and a discussion, about the industry today and I think we’re doing that. We want artists to know that our company is trying to fight for them, that we understand the costs of production and everything involved in the process and the struggle, while we’ve got a few radio appearances coming up in the near future, we’re really wanting to talk about that – the issues artists are facing today – and not just the company. Yes, the company is important to us, but the purpose and story as to why we’ve created this company is a huge part of it, and it’s that part in particular, that we want to get across to people; not just artists but music fans too.
TITL: The music industry is constantly changing and evolving, so how are you going to ensure that your platform stays current and even ahead of the curve?
PM: I think what makes us stand out is the fact that we understand the issues on the artists’ side of things very well. Grant’s a former producer, I’ve worked with artists on the creative side. We have met with dozens of artists and individuals in the industry, so we really understand the needs of an artist from a business aspect and I think that by staying close to an artist, both as business people and as fans, we can work on exclusive content, special opportunities and other things like that which no other platform I can think of offers. That’s the best way we think our platform will grow – through us sticking close to the artists, by understanding what they want and what they need in this ever-changing environment, but also by staying very in-tune with our customer base.
We want to make sure that we’re always developing anything that we think is going to push the boundaries. I know that the team and the people we’re going to bring on board are and will be very equipped to deliver all those things, and that can only be a good thing – for everyone.
TITL: A lot of platforms like iTunes in particular, but also sites like Spotify often tend to give most of their attention to bigger name bands and artists who can bring in more revenue for them, so with that in mind, what kind of artist base are you looking for; big names, independent ones or are you just looking to support those in the music industry as a whole?
PM: Everyone. Absolutely everyone. From the banjo picker down the road, all the way to Beyonce. There are some things we can offer to every artist no matter who they are. What we’ve been creating in terms of the analytics aspect is something that no-one else has, we’ve looked at all the figures from various websites and service providers, and what we’re providing is something that when we launch, people will be like: “Wow, this is really helpful information that can help with marketing decisions.” Even the biggest and greatest musicians out there can and do need insight into how to grow their business and that’s what we’re offering.
TITL: Which band or artist would you most like to get involved with this platform?
PM: This answer comes from a combination of the business side but also an admiration aspect. Taylor Swift has been a huge advocate against the streaming model and I think if we could have any artist, she’s definitely the one I’d have on board if we could. She has a massive following, she’s hugely creative, she’s current right now and as I just mentioned, she’s spoken out a lot about the streaming industry and its impact on artists. I think she understands, even at her level, what it takes for an artist to make it through the challenges of the music industry.
TITL: How would you sum up or sell this platform to a fan or an artist in a couple of words?
PM: To a fan I would say that if you want to get as close to an artist as you can without getting your nose wet and have all the opportunities, in a one-stop shop, to have access to anything you want, this is our platform. Use our platform. Of course, the fan side of things isn’t so much about the artist revenue, whereas people such as yourself might get involved because of that aspect, but for a fan, I would just say that we’ve designed this experience for you guys and we’ve everything in one place; ticketing news, merchandise – it’s all here. To an artist I would say that if you want 100% of your sales and want to understand everything about your fan-base to help run yourself as a business, choose us.
TITL: Finally then, what are your current aims for the platform and where do you see it being a year from now? With that in mind, what are your plans regarding its expansion and growth?
PM: If we launched this tomorrow and had all the help in the world, even in a year…these things take time so I think a year from now, I see us having one major label’s support, a healthy fan-base, a healthy artist base and I see us, once we have our feet on the ground, looking into new ideas such as technologies we haven’t even mentioned. There are a few things we see ourselves getting involved with and bringing into our platform model in the future definitely. We’re 100% determined to make this platform the best it can be, so that it benefits not just ourselves, but the artists who come on board with us.