Business News Digital Labels & Publishers

Universal’s DIY distributor introduces A&R process, drops a chunk of its current artists

By | Published on Friday 20 May 2022


Universal Music’s DIY distribution service Spinnup is revamping to become a “fully curated invite-only artist discovery and music distribution platform”. Which basically means the music distribution service will only be available to a select group of artists. And current Spinnup users not in that select group will need to find another distributor pronto.

According to Hypebot, Spinnup sent an email to its current userbase on Wednesday which announced that it is “changing from an open DIY music distribution service to a curated artist discovery and distribution platform. This means we will be reducing the number of artists on the platform as we move into this new chapter”.

Expanding on what that means on a special FAQ page on its website, Spinnup says: “Artists who are leaving Spinnup are being asked to take down their releases and transfer to a new distributor by 19 Jul 2022, after that date we will need to begin taking down any remaining live releases from departing artists”.

Universal originally launched its DIY distribution service in Sweden back in 2013, before rolling it out globally, with on-the-ground support in a number of other European markets, including the UK.

It worked like many other DIY distributors, making basic digital distribution available to any artist who wanted it in return for a flat fee, then passing on 100% of any royalties generated by plays on the streaming services.

Though, as a Universal-owned service, an extra selling point to DIY artists was that the major’s A&R teams would also use Spinnup as a talent-scouting platform. And, in 2020, the major said that its labels had formed more wide-ranging relationships with more than 80 artists who started out using its DIY distribution service.

With the big old revamp, Spinnup will become more like AWAL, which is now owned by Sony Music of course. AWAL has long operated a slightly different model to the other DIY distributors in that the service is not open to all and any artists.

Instead artists can apply to use the service, with a basic A&R process being employed to decide which music-makers can join the club. The AWAL site is also very upfront that many of the artists it works with were recommended to it by a trusted contacts within music industry, such as artist managers and lawyers.

AWAL also has three levels of service offering, with levels two and three – made available to a smaller group of artists – moving beyond basic DIY distribution to something more like label services.

Now its part of Sony, presumably AWAL artists on that journey up the hierarchy could also upstream to a Sony label – or possibly to the major’s other label services division The Orchard which might be in a position to offer more full-on marketing support.

It’s not clear if the revamped Spinnup might also adopt other aspects of the AWAL model, ie add other levels of service providing artists more support within the Spinnup ecosystem before any possible shift to a Universal label.