The 10 most innovative music companies of 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a catalyst for the music trade to boost live-streaming capabilities and create frictionless cost choices for artists. Companies additionally discovered dynamic methods to amplify Black and Latin cultures and expanded streaming to ignored nations. Listed below are the 10 companies which have elevated the music trade in methods that can have an enduring impression past the financial and social tumult of 2020.

Tainy Cofounder of Neon16 (left) and Lex Borrero Cofounder and CEO of Neon16 (proper) [Photos: Devin Christopher]

1. Neon16

For empowering city Latin tradition throughout leisure

Music producer Tainy has been a pioneer in reggaeton for greater than a decade, producing chart topping hits for artists together with Cardi B, J Balvin, and Unhealthy Bunny. Final 12 months, he teamed up with former Roc Nation exec Lex Borrero to create Neon16, a expertise incubator and music label run in partnership with Interscope Information. “It’s pushing our tradition ahead,” Tainy says. Along with working with up-and-coming Latin expertise together with Dylan Fuentes, Kris Floyd, and Álvaro Díaz, Neon16 is making good on its motto to “concern nothing, impression every little thing” by increasing its mission to raise city Latin tradition throughout reside occasions, TV and movie, and gaming. Neon16 has curated and hosted occasions, such because the Historical past of Reggaeton Artwork Exhibit throughout Artwork Basel Week and a celeb e-sports match. It additionally led a Collection A for the e-gaming startup ReKTGlobal, alongside different buyers together with DJ Steve Aoki and Dwell Nation. And Ntertain Studio, the corporate’s movie, TV, and digital media arm, is creating scripted and unscripted initiatives, in addition to podcasts that can start to roll out in 2021. “It’s not simply cool branding and nice music—it’s using our platform for educating the youth a distinct method to do the enterprise,” Borrero says. For instance: “One of the issues that you simply see loads is the massive producer taking all of the credit score. We guarantee that everybody will get paid pretty and will get the right credit score. From the smallest producer to Tainy, everybody will get the identical love and the identical press.”

2. Verzuz

For pitting musicians towards one another in a means that everybody wins

What began as pleasant competitors throughout quarantine on Instagram Dwell between veteran music producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz rapidly reworked into one of 2020’s greatest breakouts in leisure. Verzuz is a music battle platform that has legendary R&B and rap artists face off towards one another, hit for hit. Battles have featured Brandy vs. Monica; DMX vs. Snoop Dogg; Gladys Knight vs. Patti LaBelle; Erykah Badu vs. Jill Scott; and Jeezy vs. Gucci Mane, which was Verzuz’s most watched battle up to now, drawing greater than 9.1 million viewers throughout all platforms. In July, Verzuz made a non-exclusive distribution take care of Apple to simulcast battles on Apple Music and Apple TV Plus and Instagram Dwell. Verzuz has additionally served as a automobile to drive streaming numbers and renewed curiosity for artists who could have peaked commercially years in the past, which has been dubbed “The Verzuz Impact.”

3. Parkwood Leisure

For elevating Black tradition

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s administration and leisure firm Parkwood Entertainment produced the groundbreaking visible album Black Is King on Disney Plus, a companion movie to 2019’s Lion King soundtrack The Lion King: The Present. Black Is King contextualized the African diaspora in excessive artwork and trend, elevating Black tradition and imagery, to not point out Disney Plus’s subscriber depend when it premiered in July. In response to world trend search engine Lyst, searches for French clothier Marine Serre’s crescent moon bodysuit, worn by Beyoncé in Black Is King, skyrocketed 426% within the 48 hours after the movie’s launch, making it Lyst’s “most widespread design of 2020.” Parkwood Leisure additionally spearheaded the rollout of the label’s buzziest act, Chloe x Halle, and their debut LP Ungodly Hour. The COVID-19 pandemic restricted in-person promotion and performances, which led to a sequence of extremely produced digital numbers aired on the Immediately show, Jimmy Kimmel Dwell!, and through Billboard’s Girls in Music occasion.

4. BeatStars

For guaranteeing that the beats go on

BeatStars is a web based market for producers to promote their beats to artists. The firm obtained a serious enhance after it was found that the beat used for rapper Lil Nas X’s history-making 2019 observe “Previous City Highway” got here from the platform. However BeatStars has confirmed it’s no one-hit surprise. The firm inked a take care of Sony/ATV that can open a pipeline to the label for publishing and administration providers for BeatStars producers and artists. BeatStars’ neighborhood has grown to greater than 2 million customers receiving greater than $100 million in payouts.

5. Harmonix Music Techniques

For remixing creativity in gaming

Harmonix revolutionized music-based gaming with its breakout hits Guitar Hero and Rockband,, which required avid gamers to play devices in time with the notes of widespread songs scrolling throughout the display. However in Harmonix’s newest rhythm sport, Fuser, gamers take an energetic position in creating the music by remixing as much as 4 tracks at a time. The outcomes are creative mashups that seamlessly mix collectively due to know-how on the backend that routinely adjusts the important thing, tempo, and so on. of every observe. This  means, Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” blended with Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” Coldplay’s “Clocks,” and Rick Astley’s “By no means Gonna Give You Up,” simply may slap.

6. Bandcamp

For placing musicians first

Since launching in 2008, Bandcamp, the net platform the place musicians can promote their work and promote merch, has been a favourite amongst artists, significantly for its income mannequin, which takes solely 10-15% on digital gadgets and 10% on bodily items. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bandcamp went additional, waiving its minimize one Friday each month by means of 2020, in order that artists obtained 100% of the income. Additionally, recognizing that in-person concert events had been not possible, Bandcamp launched Bandcamp Dwell, a ticketed reside streaming service that’s totally built-in into the platform and makes merch gross sales seamless.

7. Dolby

For democratizing studio high quality sound

Dolby, a pacesetter in audio throughout leisure, launched a set of instruments and upgrades geared toward bettering the standard of recordings and livestreams. Final 12 months, Dolby launched recording app Dolby On, which obtained greater than 1 million downloads. Because the COVID-19 pandemic pushed extra individuals to seek out methods to copy the reside expertise, Dolby On expanded to incorporate reside streaming capabilities that concentrate on sound-related options, together with noise discount and stereo widening. Dolby additionally partnered with music distribution and streaming service SoundCloud to create SoundCloud Mastering. Powered by Dolby’s new API platform Dolby.io, SoundCloud Mastering filters uploaded tracks by means of Dolby’s computerized audio mastering know-how.

8. Royalty Change

For making a market for royalties

Royalty Exchange is a market permitting artists who’re incomes royalties to promote them to buyers throughout on-line auctions as a method to increase funds. Thus far, Royalty Change has facilitated greater than 1,000 transactions, funneling greater than $90 million to artists. In 2020, Royalty Change expanded its providers to accommodate sellers who had been cautious of auctions as a result of there’s no worth assure, with bids beginning, and presumably staying, low. The outcome was the eXchange, a Craigslist-style possibility the place sellers can set their mounted costs for consumers to peruse and buy.

9. Audiomack

For accommodating listeners in Africa, and musicians, too

For Audiomack, a music streaming and discovering platform with greater than 16 million month-to-month energetic customers, 2020 represented a strategic play into key African territories. In response to PricewaterhouseCoopers annual Leisure and Media Outlook report, music streaming and gross sales throughout Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ghana are anticipated to point out appreciable progress over the subsequent 5 years. That upward development immediately coincides with Audiomack opening its first worldwide workplace in Lagos in 2020, and signing a licensing take care of Warner Music making the label’s catalogue obtainable throughout Africa, Jamaica, and Canada, for the primary time. Audiomack may also assist Warner Music’s A&R division with knowledge insights to information expertise discovery, in addition to help in pushing African artists on Warner Music’s label into western markets.

10. Stem

For getting artists paid throughout the pandemic

As a music distribution platform, Stem has made it a precedence to ease ache factors for artists by simplifying managing contracts, getting music onto platforms, and, most importantly, ensuring artists receives a commission. In 2020, Stem launched Scale, a funding useful resource that gives money upfront in change for a set proportion of future earnings till the advance is paid off. (It’s meant to maintain artists from feeling compelled into restrictive label contracts because of the want for money.) Along with making its phrases clear, Scale additionally permits artists to keep up full possession of their masters. Stem had been creating Scale earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic, however it couldn’t have come at a greater time to provide impartial artists a a lot wanted lifeline. Stem has allotted $100 million to supply in advances and has given out $1.6 million for the reason that pandemic.