Upscale Magazine|June 2020

Innovative black tech companies are vying to claim space in the music industry.

Music and tech have long gone hand in hand, connected in a myriad of ways. As technology continues to expand, its relationship with the music industry becomes more intertwined—from the way music is consumed to the tech used to create music. And with black American music still driving culture and sales—in 2019, hip-hop and R&B once again beat out rock as the biggest genres, accounting for 30.7 percent of all streams—it becomes clear why it’s important for black tech companies to have firm footing in the music business.

While there’s still much room for growth, black tech companies are beginning to make their mark in music—from providing accessible platforms for artists to create and take ownership of their music to connecting the dots between creatives and music rights holders to innovative streaming platforms aimed at pleasing music enthusiasts.

We’re taking a look at three black-owned start-up music tech companies that are leaving a significant imprint in the music business.

The LABZ Farah

It’s no secret that creatives often tend to focus on their art at the expense of business. This is especially the case for musicians. How many times have you heard a tragic story about an artist losing out on a payday because of poor contracts—or in many cases, no contract at all? The LABZ is looking to change that narrative.

Launched in beta in 2018 by Farah Allen and Grammy-nominated songwriter Tami LaTrell, who has written for Whitney Houston, Keyshia Cole, Monica and SWV, The LABZ not only provides a space for artists to collaborate on songs but protects them while they’re in the creative process by tracking who contributed what to the song. This allows all involved parties to be on the same page when it comes time to determine how royalties and payments should be split.

“Further along, we help them with the process of owning and establishing ownership of their content, and we do this automatically, and without getting in the way of the creative process,” explains Allen, who has a background in developing platforms in the corporate setting. “So, when they’re done in our collaborative workspace, we automate the process of signing a split sheet,” Allen explains. “We do it in a way that’s not intrusive. Everyone gets the split sheet in their emails, and it’s saved in our storage on our platform.”

A split sheet is an agreement that identifies the ownership percentage each producer and songwriter has in a song, and it can literally mean the difference between earning pennies or millions for music artists.


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June 2020