In case you wished to know why Sony Music purchased AWAL… for this reason

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MBW Reacts is a collection of quick remark items from the MBW crew. They’re our ‘fast take’ reactions – by way of a music biz lens – to main leisure information tales. 


On Friday (February 11), MBW broke the information that the UK’s competitors watchdog – the Competitors and Markets Authority – had provisionally cleared Sony Music‘s $430 million acquisition of AWAL from Kobalt Music Group.

Simply three days later, on Monday (February 14), we have been handed the proper instance of why Sony thinks AWAL is sort of so invaluable.

On that day, it was revealed (through Hits Each day Double) that long-time indie artist woman in crimson – aka Norwegian singer/songwriter/producer Marie Ringheim – had signed a frontline report cope with Ron Perry-led Columbia Data in New York.

Since releasing her debut EP in 2018, woman in crimson has developed a major and passionate fanbase in a number of territories: on the time of publication, she has over 12.6 million month-to-month listeners on Spotify, and over 2.1 million subscribers to her YouTube channel.

The Scandinavian artist has constructed this fanbase, for 4 years, as a precedence artist on AWAL.

Her debut album, If I Might Make It Go Quiet, was launched through AWAL (in partnership with the artist’s personal World in Pink label) in April final 12 months, only one month earlier than Sony closed its buyout of AWAL (and Kobalt Neighbouring Rights).

If I Might Make It Go Quiet went High 10 within the UK, Norway, Australia and the Netherlands, charted at No.67 on the Billboard 200 within the US, and contained the breakout single Serotonin – a High 10 observe on Billboard’s Rock Airplay chart.

Now, woman in crimson has signed with one of many world’s largest frontline report firms.

In doing so, she’s change into a major case examine for Sony Music’s hope to make use of AWAL to spread-bet its approach to A&R supremacy.


AWAL runs a triple-tiered program of companies for artists:

  1. AWAL Core: The essential AWAL providing for DIY artists who submit their music to AWAL and are then chosen by the corporate as shoppers. (Lower than 10% of artists who submit music to AWAL get the inexperienced gentle to signal with it.) This gated ‘floor flooring’ stage of AWAL offers these artists with primary distribution and analytics instruments;
  2. AWAL+: The ‘second layer’ of AWAL’s service is for indie artists who develop a extra vital fanbase/enterprise than your typical AWAL Core act. As such, AWAL+ artists are given extra funds and companies from AWAL to assist speed up their profession. (AWAL itself defines AWAL+ artists as being “on the verge” of breaking.)
  3. AWAL Recordings: The highest tier of AWAL, beneath which artists are given report label-like sources (and advances) beneath a licensing settlement.

As artists are elevated by way of these tiers, so they comply with break up extra of their earnings with AWAL.

MBW understands that AWAL Core artists are requested at hand over 15% of their royalties; in the event that they then graduate to change into AWAL+ artists, it’s 30%; and for AWAL Recordings artists, it’s more likely to be a 50/50 or revenue share settlement.

Throughout all three of AWAL’s tiers, the artist retains their underlying copyrights, which is why woman in crimson’s music to this point has been credited on the likes of Spotify as “World in Pink beneath unique license to AWAL Recordings Ltd.”.

The query mark round AWAL’s loss-making enterprise mannequin has at all times been this: Can it maintain on to essentially the most profitable of artists as soon as they graduate into the realm of AWAL Recordings?

The reply, in quite a lot of notable examples, has been no.

Certainly, Sony Music’s labels have poached (i.e. signed) among the most commercially profitable artists releasing music by way of AWAL Recordings up to now, together with Rex Orange County (RCA) and Madison Beer (Epic Data).

As a part of Kobalt Music Group, dropping these artists for AWAL was a monetary gut-punch: AWAL spent vital danger capital propelling these acts to industrial success and huge audiences… after which, simply when AWAL had the prospect to make financial institution as a accomplice, stated artists defected to main labels (and their main label budgets).



That is why AWAL prospectively makes a whole lot of sense as an in-house operation at Sony.

If an AWAL artist positive aspects traction, after which turns into an AWAL Recordings artist, after which turns into a massive AWAL Recordings artist, there’s a additional upstream possibility inside Sony Music Group‘s partitions: the corporate’s personal main labels (and their main label budgets).

On this state of affairs, as a result of AWAL is now Sony Music-owned, its wider guardian group (in contrast to Kobalt, when it owned AWAL) doesn’t ‘lose’ the artist, or their viewers… or the associated revenue.

Consider AWAL’s A&R improvement mannequin as an inverse triangle: it invests somewhat bit of cash into a whole lot of indie artists every year (AWAL Core); then invests a bit extra money in a choose pool of those indie artists (AWAL+); earlier than lastly (through AWAL Recordings) investing the lion’s share of its sources to thrust only a handful of those artists in the direction of mainstream momentum.

Proper now, woman in crimson has mainstream momentum.

Her signing to Columbia Data demonstrates how the AWAL mannequin (and the wealthy knowledge it collects) can change into an actual asset inside Sony Music, whose whole enterprise relies on betting simply the precise amount of cash, on simply the precise potential famous person, at simply the precise time of their profession.Music Enterprise Worldwide

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