Nowadays, there are plenty of stories and evidence pointing out that some musicians signed to record labels are mistreated. Not only financially, but also through stressy release obligations. These artists are struggling, being not able to manage the pressure and are trying to regain career strength by becoming independent.
A decade ago, artists had no choice but to have a record deal with a big label. Only through this could they gain recognition and sell their music to a wide public. With advancing technology, possibilities to publish music independently have been created. More precisely, a new market of music distributors has emerged with the aim to help artists become independent. This way they can take control of their music, by detaching from the negative environment created by record labels.
In an interview the two founders of the music distribution company REWAVE Distribution, Agam Jamwal and Frangiskos Schweizer, explain how artists can manage stress and pressure when it comes to their music career, but also gain freedom by not being tied to record label contracts.
Patrick Jaht: How did you come up with the idea for REWAVE Distribution?
Frangiskos Schweizer & Agam Jamwal: We started off as a social media agency promoting artists on Instagram. The number of artists was exploding and many wanted to offer their music on Spotify, Apple Music and other platforms. The problem was that these artists were mostly under pressure and stress, as they were troubled about the way their music was being managed. These artists were bound to record deals and had to follow strict clauses, such as pre-set release dates, with a particular number of songs. They were robbed of their freedom to produce music freely and had to even give up on ownership. This crucial problem sparked an idea in our mind.
Jaht: What was this crucial idea?
Schweizer & Jamwal: The idea was to help artists publish and manage their music, by only implementing factors that add value to the customer and eliminate most negative points. Scrutinizing record labels and their behavior in the market also gave us more insight. We wanted to help artists become independent and reduce the stress which record labels and all these contracts created.
Jaht: Which insight on record labels?
Schweizer & Jamwal: Over the years many artists have increasingly had feuds with record labels. Artists are liberating themselves and becoming independent, as labels mistreat them with unfair contracts. Consequently, the structure of the music industry is changing drastically and the number of artists leaving labels is increasing. Artists are being held hostage by labels, which leads to horrible disputes and some artists being mentally exhausted. The stressfulness led to them quitting the deal and becoming independent.
Jaht: Can you explain further how REWAVE helps artists reduce stress?
Schweizer & Jamwal: Artists are 100% independent. They can publish whenever and whatever music they want. There are no restrictions and no manager telling what to do and what not to do. Artists get to keep all rights. When it comes to the financial aspect, artists can profit from monthly royalty payments, which are often higher than the ones from record labels. Record labels give artists big advances which might sound like a good thing, but if someone can’t manage his money correctly, he can blow it all at once. We think a steady monthly cash flow is better for every artist. All this leads to the well being of musicians.
Jaht: Now that you have transformed this idea into reality, how does REWAVE make money?
Schweizer & Jamwal: REWAVE Distribution keeps 10% of the earned royalties. This way artists can enjoy having their music on Spotify without pulling out their credit card. This model perfectly suits new artists, whose goal isn’t to make money, but to gain exposure.
Jaht: What if I wanted to keep 100% of my earned royalties?
Schweizer & Jamwal: We are aware that there are artists who want to keep all their earnings. That is why we are working on new pricing options that offer more flexibility, without neglecting the core idea we had when we started REWAVE. You can see that artists gain even more freedom with this freemium model, as they can choose if they want to pay or not.
Jaht: Why is no one doing what you do?
Schweizer & Jamwal: Some businesses are too profit oriented and don’t switch their business model until they are forced too. Maybe some of the market leaders will have to adapt. Other businesses are too focused on one market. Tunnel vision is sometimes good and sometimes bad. You have to switch and stay flexible. REWAVE Distribution recognized that you have to make the artist happy. This is the only goal. There is no place for any negativity.
Jaht: What are your plans for the future?
Schweizer & Jamwal: We are looking into artificial intelligence. Years ago AI was still considered to be far in the future. But now in 2020 it is real, it is here. The possibilities of usage are endless and REWAVE will be using AI in the quality control process of the submitted music. People in management positions have to tap into other industries to benefit from all new technology. With AI, we can further improve the artist’s experience and help artists gain even more independence.
Jaht: What are your expectations for 2020?
Schweizer & Jamwal: By the end of 2020 we will have released our new distribution platform and probably have more than 5’000 active artists.
Jaht: What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Schweizer & Jamwal: Be yourself, be versatile, be persistent and be independent. Stay away from record labels, as some contracts can create toxic environments around you. Follow our advice and you won’t have to deal with stress and pressure when it comes to your music career.