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Teen Musician Rejects $3M Deal: No Need For Label Thanks To Internet

3Billboard magazine recently released a profile of teenaged musician/rapper NLE Choppa, who handily turned down a $3 million label deal, opting instead to partner with a distribution company, UnitedMasters, and maintain all rights to his work. Kids these days!

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Guest post by Mike Masnick of Techdirt

There's a pretty fascinating profile last week in Billboard magazine of teenage musician/rapper NLE Choppa who just turned down a $3 million record label deal. Choppa (real name: Bryson Potts) rocketed to fame thanks to YouTube, where his Shotta Flow video was uploaded just last month, but has over 10 million views.

When given the chance to sign with a bunch of different labels all bidding for him, he decided to take a very different deal -- one where he retains all the rights and just partners with a distribution company, UnitedMasters:

Within a month, Choppa, whose real name is Bryson Potts, had sparked a bidding war among record companies like Republic, Interscope and Caroline, with bids reaching as high as $3 million. This kind of story is familiar: Young, local rapper goes viral; labels pounce. But this week, the rapper tells Billboard, he turned down those offers to enter a distribution partnership with UnitedMasters, Steve Stoute’s independent distribution company, without an advance and while retaining full ownership of his master recordings.

And why doesn't he need a full on record label deal? Because of the internet and all of the various internet services out there that are already making him wealthy:

4Stoute says that when the “Shotta Flow” music video caught the eye of UnitedMasters’ A&R team last month, he immediately reached out to Choppa and the rapper's mother, who was acting as his manager, offering distribution for the song. Choppa agreed. “Then, record companies are calling the guy and offering a bunch of money,” Stoute tells Billboard. “Here’s the issue: He’s already just seen, with him owning the rights and us doing distribution, he’s earning money on Spotify and Apple Music, and his song is growing on YouTube. What does he need a record company to do?”

Let's repeat that for those of you who are a bit slow in class:

He’s already just seen, with him owning the rights and us doing distribution, he’s earning money on Spotify and Apple Music, and his song is growing on YouTube. What does he need a record company to do?

Just last week we were talking about how many independent artists are embracing the internet to avoid the legacy gatekeepers.

Meanwhile, bureaucrats and recording industry lobbyists keep insisting that the EU needs Article 13 because the internet is unfair to artists? They're saying that there's a "value gap" because of YouTube? Maybe, just maybe, Article 13 has a lot more to do with the fact that the labels are losing relevance. When an artist like Choppa can retain his rights, build a massive audience, and make a ton of money thanks to internet platforms and does not need a label or all the downsides of a label deal, it certainly suggests that the "problem" Article 13 is claiming to solve might not be an actual problem. Indeed, the real "problem" that Article 13 seems to solve is the fact that the labels aren't needed as much any more. And that's not actually a problem for anyone who isn't, you know, a record label.

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