Downtown’s Ben Patterson: ‘In the end, the entry to music afforded by the web has cracked the gatekeepers of common tradition…’


In April this 12 months Downtown Music Holdings (DMH)-owned Downtown Music formed a new Artist & Label Services division and introduced that it will be headed up by Ben Patterson.

The phrase ‘new’ is, after all, barely deceptive for each Downtown and Patterson, as it is vitally removed from ‘first rodeo’ territory for both in relation to the ultra-competitive providers enviornment.

An announcement was warranted, nonetheless: for one factor, Downtown Artist & Label Services (DA&LS) merged the capabilities and rosters of the (beforehand individually run) DashGo and Downtown Music Companies.

Previous to turning into President of the ‘new’ division, Patterson had been COO of Downtown Music Companies. He initially joined Downtown in 2019, when DashGo – based by Patterson in 2004 – was acquired by Downtown as part of a $200 million deal.

On the time of the DA&LS launch, Patterson commented: ”Artist independence has been the central driver of my profession, and empowering artists is on the core of all the pieces we do at Downtown. With a world workforce centered on artists’ success in the course of the lifetime of their initiatives, the Artist and Label Companies division permits artists to succeed on each platform and construct a listening fanbase to maintain careers.”

Within the under interview, he discusses Downtown’s distinction within the aggressive indie providers area, in addition to matters together with ‘artist-centric’ royalty fashions, the ‘consideration wars’, and – why the hell not – what’s artwork, anyway?


You’re at the moment utilizing the tagline ‘One Measurement Doesn’t Match All’ to advertise Downtown Artist & Label providers division. What do you imply by that phrase whenever you take a look at your home in such a aggressive area?

This can be a tagline we’ve had on our web site for years. It got here from a time when the variety of distribution choices was pretty restricted between DIY choices and main label-type offers.

Within the late 2000s, there weren’t as many hands-on choices for artists and I discovered a variety of our shoppers had distinct wants, whether or not it was a brand new act like Sick Puppies or a label like Scrumptious Vinyl.  Getting music into platforms was simply desk stakes – including advertising and marketing and promotion and supporting demand was distinct.

Downtown Artist and Label Companies’ lean-in, holistic providers strategy is an space the place we get to work with probably the most dynamic artists and label groups and complement one another’s strengths.


The long-argued imaginative and prescient of a ‘full stack’ distribution firm – like Downtown Artist & Label Companies – is that an indie artist can be a part of with not-many-fans and not-many-streams and work their method up over time to compete with artists signed to main labels. Does that really occur in actuality?

You may take a look at the Spotify High 20 to see that occuring throughout the business, not simply at Downtown.

In the end every shopper decides the scope of what they want and who’s the very best associate to offer that. We’ve been blessed to serve a large number of these artists through the years from Sadie Jean to Los Tucanes de Tijuana to TV Lady (pictured) to Kartel Music’s artists Luis R Conriquez and Tony Aguirre.


For these artists who construct a big fanbase and streaming earnings, what would you argue are the principle benefits of an unbiased distribution system like Downtown’s vs. the main label system?

Two main solutions: the primary seems inside your query! ‘Vital streaming earnings’ deserves to be saved by the artist. Downtown strives to each be certain that the artist captures and controls that income themselves and to provide them a assist construction that grows it in the way in which a significant label traditionally might have accomplished versus an entire DIY providing.

The second is artistic management. Even in 2023, I hear tales of artists being unable to launch the music they need after they wish to. Downtown has thrived by championing our shoppers’ artistic imaginative and prescient – not by dictating one to them.

Do you’ve any case research that exhibit important development for an artist who left the main label system for no matter cause and selected to go down the unbiased/providers route?

I’m very happy with our work on behalf of Los Tucanes de Tijuana – who regained their catalog from UMG a number of years in the past and subsequently tripled their streaming quantity and viewers.

They proceed to seek out new followers and reached an all-time excessive on Spotify this 12 months with over 12 million month-to-month listeners.


Los Tucanes de Tijuana

Knowledge reveals that the ‘center class’ of artists releasing artists in the present day is rising their market share vs. the ‘superstars’ on the high of the market. What do you count on to occur to this pattern sooner or later? Might we be taking a look at a superstar-less future?!

Traditionally the famous person period encompasses a restricted scope of human historical past – primarily the mainstream broadcast interval post-WW2 of about 75 years, when slender leisure choices gave many entry to a restricted few. Right this moment’s entry to leisure is very personalised and self-curated.

“there’ll at all times be artists that attain a large viewers, however fortunately for followers and artists alike, it gained’t solely be famous person or bust.”

Folks love taking part in group occasions so there’ll at all times be artists that attain a large viewers, however fortunately for followers and artists alike, it gained’t solely be ‘famous person or bust’.

What out of your perspective are probably the most useful instruments and providers wanted to speed up an unbiased artist’s profession – and the way do you count on know-how to impression on these sooner or later?

The largest historic bills for unbiased artists – distribution and messaging followers – have been closely democratized.

As soon as an artist has recognized the distribution possibility that works for them – and even earlier than that, when they’re sharing demos and gathering suggestions – ensuring that the artist is aware of the place their followers spend their time on-line and learn how to talk with them is essential.

“The largest historic bills for unbiased artists – distribution and messaging followers – have been closely democratized.”

A number of viewers monitoring instruments exist from Downtown’s personal found.ee to platform-offered instruments like YouTube Studio and Spotify for Artists. This may be bolstered by capturing [fan] electronic mail addresses and telephone numbers for direct communications – as a result of, ultimately, social media will ask artists to pay to achieve bigger blocks of their followers – however even these promoting prices are a lot decrease than previously.

I’m distinguishing right here between a profession unbiased artist and a hobbyist. Whereas all of those instruments can be found to everybody, investing in paid variations and promoting [spend] is probably going not acceptable for all.


What are the most important challenges out of your Viewpoint that even established artists are beginning to face within the present music economic system – and what would you prefer to see accomplished about them?

One of many greatest challenges can also be an enormous alternative for artists – the competitors for consideration and time from leisure choices, be it streaming video, short-form video, video video games, music, and so on.

The upside for artists is that music performs a component in practically each type of leisure and the plethora of it offers artists a variety of possibilities to achieve present and potential followers.

“One of many greatest challenges can also be an enormous alternative: competitors for consideration and time from leisure choices, be it streaming video; short-form video, video video games, music, and so on.”

On a associated word… the continued explosive development of user-generated content material (UGC), plus artistic remix instruments which are ever-evolving with AI and different parts, can imply that credit score for unique works can get misplaced.

That is the place having robust metadata and digital fingerprinting – and a reliable administrative associate to guard and promote music in order that it isn’t misattributed or misplaced in translation – is essential.


There’s been a whirlwind of dialog whipped up by the ‘artist-centric’ royalty mannequin adopted by Deezer in France – with enter from Universal Music Group – and comparable insurance policies being adopted by Spotify in Q1 2024. This can particularly impression artists with micro-audiences / tracks with 1,000 performs or much less.  What’s your view?

I feel a very powerful fan foreign money is time – how they spend it. To that finish, I’m sympathetic to the artist-centric dialogues. However they lose me after I hear [the claim] that sure music is value greater than different makes use of of individuals’s time.

“finally it’s how a lot time followers spend with music that must be rewarded.”

It’s an argument as outdated as artwork: what’s worthy artwork? What’s pulp?

In the end it’s about how a lot time followers spend with music that must be rewarded. That was an unique distinguishing issue of streaming – artists needed to be streamed to receives a commission.

[That evolution] creates new challenges – bot streaming farms / click on fraud and so on. – however the transfer away from $20 for a CD with one common radio single on it’s a enormous win for followers and artists.


What steps would you set in place – if any – to enhance financial equity throughout streaming economics throughout platforms?

I feel platforms must be clear about music and content material that they maintain a stake in, whether or not it’s excluded from the royalty pool or if it’s being promoted to customers to scale back publicity to higher-cost content material.

“Platforms must be clear about music and content material that they maintain a stake in.”

Additionally, music must be extra pretty valued as to its contribution to short-form video and different choices. Attempt muting TikTok music and see how profitable the app could be…


Downtown (and your self) had been early to identify the worldwide potential of unbiased music from LatAm, significantly in Mexico. Do you suppose that Latin music can proceed to develop its market share within the US? And what does the rise and rise of Latin music inform us about the place the business will go in future?

I’ve been fortunate sufficient to work with superstars in Musica Mexicana for over a decade. All through that point, I’ve seen and mentioned that the followers are within the US and Mexico; it’s not ‘regional’ and more and more it’s really world.

In the end the entry to music afforded by the web has cracked the gatekeepers of common tradition; the streaming consumption [data] is unattainable to disregard.

There isn’t a doubt that [music from] different elements of the world with giant native audiences will proceed to cross over, be it Brazil, Indonesia, or India. All have giant world communities that may nonetheless uncover and share the music of their native nations due to the worldwide attain of streaming platforms.


The query we ask of everybody – with totally different solutions relying on the day! If we may provide you with a magic wand to alter one factor in regards to the trendy music business proper right here and now, what would it not be and why?

Right this moment, it’s fraud. That isn’t solely music’s downside however is especially acute within the business in the present day.

Unhealthy actors erode the alternatives and earnings for all artists, massive and small, and fraud has extra flavors than Baskin Robbins – relying on the platform and perpetrator.

Trade efforts and expense centered on stopping [streaming fraud] in order that artists can obtain honest compensation means extra prices and time that aren’t being spent making or advertising and marketing nice music.Music Enterprise Worldwide

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