For labels, signing an artist to this comprehensive deal is not about the instant hit anymore, says Stiffelman, who also teaches music law at the University of California Los Angeles. “Now a manager can say, if we put out an extra single I think I can get my artist on the Black Eyed Peas opening act. Now they’re not limited to how much they can sell, labels are looking at the broader picture.”
But he warns against companies assuming greater control of an artist’s image and brand. Adding that with labels holding a share in much of an act’s deals artists can find their image exploited.
Though Branch is a proponent of the deal (arguing, “If a label invests millions of dollars in an artists and [the label] brings the artist to the world, why can’t [the label benefit from that?”) he says that if a company does not have the proper team in place to develop an artist, than the deal is counterproductive.
Many labels, because of downsizing, are left with less staff, and with one person responsible for several jobs, some are going above and beyond their skill level, he says. Thus, the onus of marketing and branding can fall heavily on the shoulders of the artist and its personal management team while the label still shares in the profits.
So, where will this new business model taking the industry? In the next five years, Branch sees labels transitioning from music companies to full-service entertainment companies.
“I think we’re going to see companies establish recording divisions, touring divisions and so on, to run these talented people,” he says. “Labels are going to see artists as brands and not just people who can sing or rap really well. The time is right.”