Spurred by decades of artist exploitation, The Rattle is publicly launching an alternative to the traditional record label by financing the development of an artists’ business, rather than simply buying their music and exploiting music rights.
“When people think of the music business, they actually mean the music rights business, when companies buy and sell the right to reproduce or perform music,” explains Chris Howard, The Rattle’s CEO. “What we are talking about is the business – or venture – of music culture. When you untangle the way music and culture are created from the way music rights are traded, whole new industries can be born, liberating an artist to become a countercultural movement maker, not a mere content generator.”
Alongside music artists, the venture label will back budding creatives, counter culturists, inventors and technologists, nurturing powerful relationships between music makers and innovators from inception, sparking real breakthroughs in music and culture. “This demands a new path forward for emerging artists and new infrastructure — and that means new technology,” Howard says. “These two integral sides of the music culture business need to evolve in partnership.”
The Rattle Venture Partnership will back artists and inventors to transform music together by providing funding and resources in exchange for shares in each company the artist/inventor will own and control. Unlike a venture capital fund or a traditional “accelerator” like YCombinator, The Rattle’s new Venture Label works like a “venture studio,” where makers of counterculture are offered a dedicated creative team, financial support, facilities, and back office resources to launch a new company around their creativity. The goal: To keep creativity flowing, and run the slow and steady race to real artistic accomplishment with an unorthodox way of doing business in the music industry.
“I’m lucky enough to work with a number of the world’s great artists. As well as their undoubted creative abilities, what marks them out is their appetite for adventure and innovation, not just in their art but with how they approach the business of their art,” notes Brian Message, Co-manager Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Thom Yorke and advisor to The Rattle. “Fostering creativity beyond just their music creates all kinds of exciting opportunities. The Rattle caught my eye as it encourages artists to think as innovators and technologists to think of themselves as artists-of-business.”
In essence, The Rattle has taken all of the best parts of an accelerator, like teaming up with founders financially in a shared-risk way and supporting the merit of a founder’s creativity; and they have removed the soul-sucking parts of an accelerator, like teaching founders how to grovel to VCs on demo day or mashing their creative ideas into a market segment and sales pitch long before it’s time.
“The pandemic broke all the rules around how you ‘start up’ as a music artist or technology founder,” says Howard. “Now the best way to succeed is to think and behave like a founder. Founders have a vision for how they want the world to change. They use their creativity and innovative spirit to make things that create that change, all while entertaining and moving their audiences or solving meaningful problems for society.”
The key advantage the Venture Label model has over traditional label or VC deals is that the founder sets the strategic agenda. They decide what gets made and why. Another benefit is the founder does not need to commit up front to repaying the label or VC with Royalties. Instead, they become commercially and culturally valuable by whatever means they wish, on a timeline that suits their inventive spirit. This allows for complete creative freedom and puts an end to oppressive, opaque contracts and endless recoupment burdens.
In hidden development since 2018, The Rattle successfully raised $2m in private investment from notable leaders in music and technology like Steve Lewis, Ross Mason, and Imogen Heap to prototype and test their new model with 6 music artists and 4 technology inventors. After a successful pilot, The Rattle will open its new Venture Label to an additional 50 new artists, countercultural hackers, and technology inventors starting January 2021, laying the foundations for an entirely new music economy based on proven startup principles.
“By providing a structure to develop great artists/inventors as founders, we can create a truly progressive music universe free from unfair exploitation and creative restrictions,” notes Howard. “We want more Banksys, Björks, and Greta Thunbergs. And fewer unsuspecting artists who don’t realize their only commercial goal is to make someone else rich.”
Not all labels are the same, however, and many have developed their own innovative, ingenious responses to the rapid change of the past two decades. “We recognise the music economy has made some fantastic positive changes in the past few years,” Howard explains. “The Rattle Venture Label has spent 2 years ensuring it is compatible with how pioneering labels, management, and publishing are choosing to operate. But early sources of financing and support largely remain intertwined with outdated deal structures, which are often accused of exploiting creatives and not aligning with their interests.”
The Rattle Venture Partnership liberates creators entirely from this by offering genuine shared risk and gain between those who invest in art & technology and the artist or inventor themselves without dictating creative output. The novel structure is an “equity sharing” contract to form a new venture for artists and inventors alike.