Start-up Record Label Making Big Waves in Resurgent Music Industry
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Sept. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — For more than a decade, we’ve heard dire warnings from many artists, trade magazines and industry executives that the music industry as we know it was nearing extinction. Such a grim prognosis led industry pundits and pseudo-visionaries to continually search for the “new” music business model, as if there was a holy grail of information that would usher in a renewed golden era of success in the music world.
Though no such wisdom presented itself, a funny thing happened on the way to the music industry’s graveyard. Neilsen’s Soundscan reported this year that music sales actually increased during the first two quarters, ending a decade long slide. That was followed by Pandora’s IPO, Spotify’s successful US launch, and major record labels inking deals with Cloud based music service providers. MarketResearch.com, the world’s largest provider of market research, issued a report last month predicting that the digital music industry’s revenue will nearly triple over the next five years from 7 billion to 20 billion.
It’s becoming clear that major record labels have finally and successfully adapted to the age of digital music. Big league investors already know this. Major record label, Warner Music Group, recently sold for $3.3 billion dollars and EMI, with their Beatles assets, is poised to fetch even more. But there is also an interesting start-up in the space that is having some remarkable success as the industry’s revenue graph begins its ascent. At the helm of this innovative music label is Ken Underwood, a successful INC 500 serial entrepreneur and Founder/CEO of the game development company and record label, Stereofame.
By utilizing popular social media websites such as Facebook and YouTube, Underwood’s company is redefining conventions of how to break a new artist. The proof is in the success of Stereofame’s inaugural artist, J. Dash. With Underwood’s guidance, the Florida-based rapper has kicked off a true grassroots movement with the viral success of his song “WOP.” In August, the infectious dance tune released earlier this year accomplished the unheard of – it sold over 100,000 tracks on iTunes with no radio airplay. And it has spawned a dance craze bolstered by the uploading of thousands of videos posted by J. Dash’s fans on YouTube performing the “WOP,” (an average of one new video being posted every hour).
“I saw the success of the ‘Bed Intruder’ song last year as it charted on iTunes and tried to figure out how those guys got so many sales,” Underwood said. The answer was in the way the video was marketed on YouTube. Underwood adopted and improved upon the same model to help increase the popularity of J. Dash’s dance single with unprecedented success.
However, despite the use of cutting-edge technology and social networking tools, Underwood’s approach to breaking an artist actually signals a return to the original music industry model: a successful artist’s career begins with a groundswell of support before reaching the masses. In this way, Underwood is establishing Stereofame as an independent label dedicated to raising the profile of artists with amazing talent and mass-appeal rather than relying on trends and gimmickry.
According to Underwood, J. Dash is the embodiment of what Stereofame Records stands for. After seeing the rapper perform after a sporting event in 2009, Underwood was determined to put J. Dash in front of a world-wide audience. “He stole the show that night with the charisma and stage presence of a Superstar,” Underwood said of J. Dash. “It was clear from the start that he was absolutely the real deal, at minimum on the same level of some of the world’s most popular artists.”
After filming a music video for “WOP,” (featuring a guest appearance by multi-platinum selling artist, Flo Rida), Stereofame’s experiment proved to be an instant sensation. Underwood embraced YouTube’s marketing space and annotations feature in order to redirect viewers to iTunes where they could purchase “WOP” and the strategy paid off. Anchored by a how-to dance video and the first ever YouTube street team, the “WOP” videos have logged over 8 million views.
“WOP” also charged into the iTunes’ TOP 100 Hip/Hop Chart alongside heavyweights such as Jay-Z, Eminem, Li’l Wayne and Kanye West. And after gaining the attention of radio last month from J. Dash’s Street Team, WOP is currently ranked #48 on the Urban Charts and is the #1 song in the country by an independent label as reported by Mediabase, the provider of charts for USA Today and American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest.
In parallel with the success of “WOP,” Underwood is positioning Stereofame as a cutting-edge, music-themed game developer, having recently released the iPhone game app “Songs And Friends.” Through a partnership agreement with arguably the world’s leading game designer, Jesse Schell, Underwood is turning Stereofame into a music and gaming juggernaut.
“We’re releasing our big Facebook game later this year in hopes of building upon the success of other Facebook game developers like Zynga. Our talented team is working overtime to turn people’s love and passion of music into a fantasy football-type game,” Underwood said.
As part of the concept, Facebook friends will soon have the opportunity to start their own virtual record labels, “sign” real artists and earn rewards based upon the real-life chart success of their signed artists.
“Jesse had great success creating ‘Pirates of the Caribbean Online’ and ‘Toon-Town’ for Disney,” Underwood said, “and I’m able to bring my experience as a real world record label into the game’s development. It’s going to be very cool. Even if you don’t play games, you’re going to want to play this one.”
Who knows? Perhaps it won’t be long before Facebook friends are clamoring to sign the real J. Dash to their own virtual record label. To hear America’s biggest new artist and his smash WOP, go to http://www.TheRealJDash.com or http://www.Facebook.com/TheRealJDash. Media images available at http://www.Flickr.com/TheRealJDash.