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UnitedMasters Launches Independent(s) Exchange to Give Major Brands Access to Independent Artists, with Diageo as Founding Member

9 Mar 2022 | Press release

Global Marketing Leader Diageo will be the founding member. As demand for more equitable solutions in the creator economy grows, UnitedMasters will give independent artists access to ambitious brands

Brooklyn, NY., March 9, 2022 – Today, music creator platform UnitedMasters and Diageo, a global leader in beverage alcohol with a collection of brands that includes Crown Royal and Bulleit Whiskey, announce the Independent(s) Exchange, an initiative designed to foster multi-faceted partnerships between independent artists and major brands.

Diageo has long been an advertising innovator at the forefront of consumer trends and saw the opportunity to engage with the Independent(s) Exchange to get further ingrained in the world of independent music, via UnitedMasters. This partnership establishes Diageo’s commitment to supporting a network of diverse, independent artists while ensuring that they remain connected to their consumers through the music they love.

The Independent(s) Exchange will open new economic avenues for creators and allow Diageo to design brand experiences powered by independent artists and access a library of UnitedMasters top artists' music. Powered by 1.3M independent UnitedMasters artists, the Independent(s) Exchange is an opportunity for brands to directly participate in the growth of the creator economy and invest in the next generation of artists shaping tomorrow's pop culture.

“Brands aren’t investing enough in Black media, and the creator economy is revealing obvious gaps in how diverse creators are being celebrated, monetized, and capitalized on for brand relationships. The Independent(s) Exchange is directly tied to UnitedMaster's mission to create a more equitable ecosystem for artists, ensuring that brand dollars are distributed instead of flowing only to top-performing artists,” said Steve Stoute, Founder and CEO of UnitedMasters. “Artists’ ability to build wealth from their cultural influence has long been co-opted without investing in or crediting the original creators. It’s time for that to change. The Independent(s) Exchange creates a once-in-a-generation opportunity for ambitious brands to innovate within a new direct media investment model with equity and inclusion at its core."

Diageo brands will be prominently featured side-by-side with UnitedMasters across a series of activations, including the release of Who Made The Beat presented by Crown Royal 18 and a nationwide artist search with Bulleit's Local Bar Sundays.

Additionally, Diageo and future Independent(s) Exchange partners will have first-look access into the UnitedMasters community of over one million-plus young, diverse creators representing culture across various races, genres, and mentalities unearthing valuable cultural intelligence. The Exchange will allow brands a rare opportunity to underwrite emerging artists on the rise, create wide-ranging content soundtracked by UnitedMasters artists, and ultimately invest in artist independence.

“Our partnership with UnitedMasters will further cement Diageo’s brands as mainstays in culture and insert our portfolio in the musical sphere for decades to come. Our excitement around how our brands will be organically integrated into a community of diverse, young adult creators can’t be understated,” said Sophie Kelly, Sr. Vice President, Whiskey, Diageo North America.

UnitedMasters is a platform for creators, offering independent artists the tools, resources, and access that music labels reserve for bigger acts. The platform has enabled artists to operationalize their independence and maximize their creative and economic potential while maintaining full ownership over their master recording rights.

The Independent(s) Exchange will continue to bring complementary members, joining Diageo in giving up-and-coming artists access to top brands looking to champion independent artists.