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Rebel Music Streamer Audiomack Clinches Deals With Universal, Sony

By Gary Symons

TLL Editor in Chief

Audiomack, a music streaming service with a difference, has concluded key licensing agreements with Universal Music and Sony Music.

The deal follows on its first agreement with one of the Big Three music publishers, when it signed a licensing agreement in 2019 with Warner Music, and then expanded that agreement to additional markets in November. That agreement expanded Audiomack’s licensing territory for the Warner catalog to Africa, Canada and Jamaica.

The announcement also revealed that Audiomack is seeing healthy growth in its user base, with 17 million active users now, as compared to 16 million in November when it signed the new deal with Warner. In Africa Audiomack claims to be the most popular music app for iOS in several countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya, although it’s worth noting that iPhones are much less popular in Africa than Android-powered devices.

The announcement of the UMG and Sony deals came with a new figure attached: Audiomack now has 17 million monthly active users, up from 16 million last November. As well, the service’s user base had only eight million active users in August, 2019 when it signed its first agreement with Warner Music Group, and has effectively doubled since that time.

Audiomack is a much smaller service than Spotify, Apple Music or even SoundCloud, but the company seems okay with that. In fact, Audiomack founders revel in their status as a home for emerging artists who haven’t hit the big time yet, and describe their streaming service as a place for those people who want to discover new artists and songs. “We’re not intent on becoming Spotify. We’re not trying to become Apple Music,” says co-founder and CMO Dave Ponte. “We’re carving out our own lane, and it’s a discovery streaming site.”

The premise of Audiomack is fairly simple. It allows any artist to post their music for free, and provides the artists with tools to market and sell content. Many of the Audiomack artists have very small followings, but the service has also scored a number of major hits from well-known musicians who wanted their music out right away, before they could be streamed on Spotify or Apple Music. In September, for example, rapper Eminem released a scathing ‘diss track’ aimed at rival Machine Gun Kelly, and it went straight to Audiomack long before it ran on the bigger services.

Paul Rosenberg (Eminem’s manager) called us up and said that they had a record, that it wouldn’t be out in stores for a couple days, but that Em wanted it out right now,” David Macli, Audiomack co-founder and CEO, told Billboard at the time. “It scaled extremely quickly.”

In fact, Killshot soared to #29 on the Billboard 100 with 8.6 million plays in four months, and also was the biggest debut by views for a hip-hop video on Youtube in its history. It later shot to a #3 debut on Billboard’s ‘Hot 100’ list and was the most streamed song in the United States in its first week of release, according to figures from Nielsen Music.

Audiomack was able to effectively debut Killshot because other artists had also seen success on the platform, starting shortly after its founding in 2013. For example, Truly Yours by J. Cole and Acid Rap by Chance the Rapper both premiered on the streamer, and were so popular they caused the site to crash. Songs by artists like Bobby Shmurda, Fetty Wap and Future also found early traction through the site, where they might have been buried in the vast trove of music on Spotify.

“Audiomack is the place where, if an [established] artist shares their music, all the young artists that are just starting their careers can see that and be on the same platform,” Macli said in the Billboard interview. “They don’t need to call up a distributor, they don’t need a label deal, they can just upload and say, ‘Now I’m on the same trending list as J. Cole, as Future, under Young Thug.’ And we actually listen to everything that’s submitted to us, fortunately or unfortunately.”

Audiomack takes a different approach then some of its rivals, like SoundCloud, as they don’t charge the artists anything to archive their work on the platform. “At the time, there were other services out there that charge artists for uploading music, or for advanced stats—ReverbNation, BandCamp, SoundCloud—and we saw that streaming was the future,” Macli explained. “The idea was simple: We didn’t feel like it was a good model to charge artists to upload music or to get stats. We felt like that model was shortsighted. We wanted to build a platform where any artist could come in, upload to the site without limits and then we’d make money off the audience via advertising or subscription.”

The model appears to have worked, and the rapidly growing numbers in Audiomack’s user base now appears to have taken the streamer to another level, allowing it to sign deals with the three largest music publishers in the world.



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