ONErpm, short for ONE Revolution People’s Music, is a digital distribution company designed to streamline the process of dispensing digital media to a wide array of media outlets. It’s one of YouTube’s quickest growing Multi-Channel Networks, generating over two billion plays a month. Additionally, they offer an array of other services, including album sales and studio access.
I was a failed musician, then got a Masters Degree in Economics and International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University. Then, I worked at a consulting firm but really missed music.
While I was consulting, I discovered social entrepreneurship and created Verge Records. Verge would look for artists from impoverished areas and sign them. The idea was to take a percentage of sales and reinvest those funds into music education programs in the neighborhoods where the artist was from. I won an NYU Business Plan Competition with that project in 2006 and a grant to launch that company. I kind of achieved my mission, but it wasn’t a profitable project.
That’s when I had the idea for ONErpm in 2007, a technology company that would scale my intent for Verge. It took three years to get the technology right. I worked with two programming teams, both failed and I lost a lot of money.
Finally, I got the technology right by 2010. Because we were late to the game in the U.S., I looked at other markets. I was familiar with Brazil—the ninth largest music market in the world and there was nothing there like what I’d built, so that’s where I started.
The Power of Content
We’ve expanded throughout Latin America, so we’re in Argentina, Columbia, Mexico and the U.S., both in Nashville and New York. Our goal is to achieve that success in other countries.
You have other companies out there [who do what we do]. I respect Kobalt and others around this space, but Kobalt got 50 or 60 million dollars from Google Ventures. They’re a great company, but we’re also a great company and had zero money from outside sources. And we’ve had huge success done with so little. We know how to make money in the digital world. We’re outpacing competitors with sometimes one-tenth the catalog and it’s because of the quality of content we have.
A Fair Deal
We strike a balance between providing label services, marketing support and transparent reporting and technology without the artist giving up too much. Our standard cut is a 70/30 split––70% for the artist or label and 30% for us. It depends on negotiation. We rarely go above 30%. And often we go lower than 30%, so we’re providing a lot of support an artist needs without them sacrificing control or other revenue.
If you’re a label and want to work with us, we understand you’re going to be doing most of the marketing and we’ll do a more aggressive, purely distribution deal. If you want more marketing, we can give it. We can structure a deal where on this revenue stream you’re going to make this much. On downloads, you’re going to make this much. On YouTube, this much. We can customize things for albums, so you’re going to get this much on your back catalog. But if you have a new release and need support from us we’re going to take a different share.