Mar 31, 2021 - Technology

Apple invests in Steve Stoute's music distribution startup

Illustration of a pencil writing sheet music with dollar and cents symbols

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

UnitedMasters, a music distribution platform that serves as a kind of Substack for musical artists, on Wednesday announced that it raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Apple.

Why it matters: Apple rarely participates in venture capital rounds, let alone leads them. In fact, the last one we can find was a 2017 investment in Didi Chuxing.

  • Return backers were Alphabet and Andreessen Horowitz.
  • The company is run by Steve Stoute, a former record label exec and artist manager who produced albums for artists such as Mariah Carey and Nas.

The bottom line: UnitedMasters lets musicians bypass record companies and release their music straight to streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify. It claims to have over 1 million artists on its platform, paid directly without having to give up ownership rights.

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