If you're a musician who's been putting videos and performances up on YouTube, and you feel like you're not getting anywhere, there might be a little help in store for you.
Music executive Russell Simmons, who introduced the world to acts like Run DMC, the Beastie Boys and LL Cool J has teamed up with Steve Rifkind, who founded Loud Records back in the 90s, to create a record label that searches for acts on YouTube.
The duo, along with Brian Robbins, a TV and film producer and star of the 80s sitcom "Head of the Class," says the label -- called All Def Music -- will be the first of its kind.
We are, "the first major label-affiliated music company created specifically to sign, develop and promote artists on YouTube," said the group.
A new outlet
All Def Music, which will be under the Universal Music Group (UMG) umbrella, will also develop and promote artist through YouTube. The founders say they want to tap into the vast array of artists who have used the popular video site to get their name out.
"The exponential growth of Internet-based video has created a powerful new outlet for music and music-based content, and the launch of All Def Music is a part of our broader strategy to partner with some of the most experienced entrepreneurs in media and technology to identify future stars and develop powerful content on the world's fastest growing media platform," said the CEO of UMG, Lucian Grainge.
In the last decade or so, the path for musicians to be discovered has changed dramatically. Once, the game plan for most artists was to hone their craft, create a series of demo CDs and then go to every record label, hoping their music wouldn't end up in the demo-junk-drawer.
But once surfing the Internet became synonymous with searching for new music, places like YouTube became the new radio of sorts, not to mention a place where artists could provide visuals for their music.
The landscape changes
In the beginning, the marriage between independent musicians and sites like YouTube was a fruitful one, because both parties in the union gained a lot of attention.
Unknown artists could instantly promote their music on the site and YouTube benefited as well, because more and more consumers turned to the video site to discover up and coming musicians.
But then, that particular avenue became saturated and once a few musicians were actually discovered through YouTube, the flood gates opened to the point where posting a video on the site was the same as blindly mailing a demo CD to a record label.
Breaking new ground
However, that didn't stop people from posting content to YouTube and it didn't stop record executives from going to the site to look for new talent. But this is the first time a major label is using digital media as its main source to build its roster.
Simmons, who has been a fixture in urban music since the early 80s, with his Def Jam label, says he still looks at YouTube as new territory to conquer, although it's been in full swing for quite some time.
He compares the relative newness of YouTube to the newness of rap music back in the 80s, when he was trying to get the genre recognized on mainstream levels.
"I look forward to working with the extraordinary talent from the vastly creative YouTube ecosystem in the same way I've worked with musicians, poets, comedians and designers all my life," said Simmons. "This is the most exciting new terrain for me, to move talent across media platforms."
All Def Music will be coupled with All Def Digital Management, launched earlier this year, which develops and promotes new shows, comedians and poets, as well as other acts.
A new management approach
Simmons says although the Internet is a great place for artists to promote their material, there's really no organization to it and he really wants to change that.
"In terms of just taking artists and broadening them across different media, I think that there's no one really there managing them properly," said Simmons. "I just think there's a hole in the market."
The announcement of All Def Music will most likely delight many independent artists, especially the ones who feel like they might be creating and posting videos on YouTube in vain.
But a word of caution for those who think their chances of being discovered on the video site just became a whole lot easier.
If record industry history repeats itself, All Def Music will look for artists with the most YouTube popularity instead of the best music, so they'll have to do a lot more than post a good song to be discovered need thousands -- if not millions -- of hits to even get noticed by folks like Simmons and Rifkind.
Musicians should also take the whole artist-development-thing with a grain of salt as well, because labels don't develop artists anymore. They simply latch on to an already successful person who already has a loyal fan base. But Rifkind says All Def Music will be different and the label will actually nurture talent.
"Tapping into YouTube's fertile creative platform, we intend to identify, develop and nurture music's next generation of superstar talent," he said.
Independent artists shouldn't hold their breath because All Def Music will probably be just like any other record label. It'll only want to work with people who already have some kind of fame or popularity.