Simmons, Robbins, Rifkind partner with UMG to launch YouTube-focused label

Tom Pakinkis
Russell Simmons

Def Jam founder Russell Simmons, Brian Robbins and Steve Rifkind have partnered with Universal Music Group to launch a “next-generation” label that will focus specifically on signing, developing and promoting artists on YouTube.

The label, All Def Music, is the first major label-affiliated company specifically designed to A&R through YouTube. It will leverage a new channel and forthcoming multi-channel network on Youtube (All Def Digital) founded by Simmons and Robbins with funding from YouTube itself to produce programming featuring a diverse range of talent.

All Def Digital will launch in Q3 2013.

Steve Rifkind has been appointed president and CEO of All Def Music and ADD Management.

The first signings to ADD Management include John A. Baker (aka Spoken Reasons) – a poet, comedian and musician who has garnererd more than 1.3 million YouTube subscribers to date.

All Def Digital has also announced the development of an unscripted music-themed show with rapper Asher Roth titled Lemonade. Roth has already amassed over 20 million YouTube views.

“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 UMG chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge.

“As one of the most successful entrepreneurs in media, Russell has built a global organization based on developing cutting-edge entertainment for generations of fans,” he added.  “We’re excited to partner with Russell as he extends his incredible track record to platforms such as YouTube, and I’m thrilled that we can welcome Russell back to the UMG family where he has been instrumental to this company’s evolution with Def Jam.  

“In addition, Brian Robbins’ proven track record of exceptional content creation specifically designed to harness the power of YouTube has made him one of the most successful producers in media today. And with Steve’s wealth of experience as a music entrepreneur, I couldn’t think of a better executive to launch this label.”

Simmons said: “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.  This is the most exciting new terrain for me, to move talent across all media platforms and I couldn’t have better partners in Brian and Steve, and the most innovative of music executives, Lucian Grainge.”   

Robbins said: “I'm thrilled to be in business with an impresario like Russell Simmons and a distinguished entrepreneur like Steve Rifkind to leverage digital and build ADD into the biggest and brightest urban brand.”

Rifkind said: “Over the course of my entire career, I've never been more excited than I am today about the potential for innovation in music.  Tapping into YouTube’s fertile creative platform, we intend to identify, develop and nurture music's next generation of superstar talent.  Alongside Russell, Brian and the incredible team at UMG, I look forward to building All Def Music into a global music label for the new age.  

“We're excited to see what this innovative collaboration will yield," said Robert Kyncl, Head of Content and Business Operations at YouTube. "The launch of All Def Music will amplify YouTube’s role as a launchpad for both established artists and the next generation of musical talent.”


Tags: umg, youtube, Labels, Digital, Universal Music Group, Video, Universal Music, russelll simmons

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