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Deadmau5 quits Universal for Kobalt

By | Published on Thursday 8 October 2015


Deadmau5 has departed Universal Music in order to strike out on his own, handing administration of his recording and publishing rights over to Kobalt. The producer’s own record company, Mau5trap, will also use the company’s label services division.

“The label does what’s good for the label. Always”, Deadmau5 told Billboard of his decision to leave the major. “It’s instilled in the industry that that’s the only way to do it. Well, not anymore”.

He added that some of the frustrations with his former label stemmed from how his music had been used by Universal: “I am very strict on what products I want to associate myself with, and I felt that some things [Universal put out] were just to make a buck. Then, we’d only get a little trickle [of royalties], and I’d be like, ‘Wait, I look this stupid for only that much? Why am I looking stupid in the first place?'”

“I’m not saying I’m never gonna get fucked again”, he continued pragmatically. “But I do like the freedom that, if I do fuck up, it’s my fault rather than the fault of someone who bought that responsibility from me. I’ve got $130 million in the bank and a whiteboard full of cool ideas for emerging markets and technologies where we’re gonna test the waters and see what happens. And that’s how you become the first – not by using the old traditional broken-ass model”.

Billboard also spoke to the producer’s manager, Three Six Zero’s Dean Wilson, and asked if he might move more of his artists over to Kobalt. “I feel a little bit of guilt that we haven’t”, he said. “After looking at the back end and meeting everybody… my God it’s like somebody’s awakened the sleeping side of my brain. It’s like, actually, there’s a different way to put records out”.

Kobalt, of course, has been very bold in its claims of being able to do things differently. Sort of repositioning itself as a tech company has helped get that message out – particularly in the usually music-industry-averse tech press. The company promises to provide real-time stats on music usage, where possible, and to more efficiently process and report royalties, and it recently bought its own collecting society, AMRA, to help improve that side of things.