Canadian Producer Deadmau5. 2015
Canadian Producer Deadmau5. 2015

Deadmau5 leaves Universal Music Group for Kobalt

Alexandre Trochut

“ The label does what’s good for the label. Always. It’s instilled in the industry that that’s the only way to do it. Well, not anymore. ” This is – as often – on Twitter and through this terse statement that canadian producer Deadmau5 aka Joel Zimmerman has announced that he has leaved Universal Music Group for more independence but not only.

After previously had been signed to Ultra Records (alongside Kaskade, Steve Aoki and Calvin Harris) for North America and Universal Music Group for the rest of the world, Deadmau5 – who has long trumpeted his independence -.split in 2013 and joined Universal’s North American system through Capitol’s Astralwerks imprint, which released the 2014 double-album “while(1<2)“.

The canadian producer — who has sold 1.2 million albums and 4.2 million tracks in the United States (according to Nielsen Music) – earning around $500,000 per show and raking in an estimated $15 million in 2014 — will bring his recordings, publishing and Mau5trap‘ label to Kobalt, the upstart ­independent publishing and music-rights platform that counts Trent Reznor, Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney and Skrillex among its clients.

But behind this apparent need for freedom is hiding a new anger crisis of the artist who would haven’t tasted the management of its songs by the label and describing as a lack of transparency for including his music on compilations with overtly commercial titles like “Now That’s What I Call EDM” as revealed in his statements ;

I am very strict on what products I want to associate myself with, and I felt that some things were just to make a buck. Then, we’d only get a little trickle, and I’d be like, “Wait, I look this stupid for only that much? Why am I looking stupid in the first place?’ I’m not saying I’m never gonna get f—ed again, but I do like the freedom that, if I do f— up, it’s my fault rather than the fault of someone who bought that responsibility from me. I’ve got $130 million in the bank and a whiteboard full of cool ideas for emerging markets and technologies where we’re gonna test the waters and see what happens, and that’s how you become the first — not by using the old traditional broken-ass model Deadmau5

Let us not be fooled, it is also a pretext for not being the only one to communicate this change, his manager was quick to give details which prove far more convincing than the reasons given by the artist. Deadmau5‘s manager – Three Six Zero Group’s Dean Wilson – promises a near-real-time review of publishing income and claims to collect 20 to 30 percent more revenue than the majors. And guess who has introduced the artist to its new plateform Kobalt?

The same person that announced that the new deal contains an artist advance around $5 million; budgeted on a release-by-release basis. Kobalt‘ president Richard Sanders calls his company’s services “A replication” of what a major would offer “in terms of creating a worldwide, full-service budget to release his music on a global scale.” and declared :

The deal was focused mainly around flexibility and affording him the opportunity to release his music in any way shape or form he’d like. How it’s monetized will be up to his direction and his control.– Richard Sanders, President of Kobalt

Mau5trap imprint – which has helped develop the likes of Skrillex, Madeon and new signee ATTLAS – will also utilize Kobalt’s label services for releases and artist development at his team’s discretion. Mau5trap has already begun hiring to bolster its 12-person staff, with further expansion expected.

Highlight of this marketing financial transaction, his attorney Dina LaPolt stresses the deal’s scope and unique cross-platform flexibility as being key for the tech-savvy artist, who recently struck partnerships with video-streaming sites Twitch and Maestro to replace his website with a live portal to broadcast his studio sessions in real-time.

“ Majors don’t understand technology,” says LaPolt. “They think they do but they don’t. They have so many corporate policies, and they’re up their own asses, that they lose opportunities 24/7. Joel has a plan and he has professionals to get it done. If, at the end of the day, some people couldn’t get it done, then you have to employ other methods to get those people out of the way. ” – Dina LaPolt, Deadmau5′ attorney

Deadmau5’s bargaining position was strengthened by the fact that most of his income isn’t directly tied to recordings. Dean Wilson says the artist makes most of his revenue from touring — he headlined festivals like Glastonbury, Bonnaroo and Governors Ball during the past year — with merchandise second and sponsorships third. Forced to admit that with this new deal, Deadmau5 proves – once again – its independence and persuasiveness.