By D. Ray Tuttle
Courtesy of The Journal Record
TULSA – The idea for idefi Music came from an earlier failure.
In 2000 idefi Music founder and CEO Brady Deaton started a recording studio and then branched out into a record label called Cinema Studio Group.
“I signed my first band, invested thousands of dollars and hours of work into them and then they decided to call it quits,” Deaton said. “I was stuck with all of my money invested and thousands of CDs by a band that now didn’t exist.”
Later, Deaton thought about doing a record label again, but he was determined to avoid being burned.
“I started thinking of ways I could design a new record label model where if the bands I signed wanted to quit, they could and I would still survive,” he said.
That is when Deaton came up with idefi Music.
Deaton said idefi destroys the model of the fat-cat record labels taking a huge cut of artists’ earnings.
The launch of the idefi website allows a performer – of any age, level of experience or genre – to upload original music and create a profile page for free, Deaton said. Ticketing system provider and idefi part-owner TICKETsage designed the website.
Stephen Cassar, president and CEO of Fayetteville, Ark.-based TICKETsage Inc., said that unlike a standard music download service like iTunes, idefi is a real, full-fledged label with all the perks and support an artist needs to succeed.
“But with idefi, the artist takes baby steps without ever getting in debt,” he said. “Success at the product scan level equals real success without the smoke and mirrors.”
Artists set their own pricing and determine how their music is packaged, Deaton said. Then, when a download sells, idefi splits revenue with the artist, he said.
“The artist gets paid instantly from the first download,” he said. “There’s no need for recoupment at idefi.”
Cassar said artists love it.
“The buzz has been really surprising with interest from all genres,” he said. “I did not expect the level of excitement from such a broad base.”
Deaton is looking at an official launch on March 14. He said he’s formed partnerships with several established artists to the new platform, including Grammy-nominated, three-time Dove award winner Rob Beckley. Beckley will release his first solo album via idefi Music.
The new concept is far beyond the heart of a traditional record label, said Beckley, the lead singer of the Christian rock band Pillar.
“It focuses on the best interest of the musician-writer, as opposed to being focused on the needs of a company first,” Beckley said.
Deaton said his biggest challenge will be to overcome the artist’s mind-set of getting signed.
“Anyone who is a musician starts with this idea that someday they will be discovered and get their big break,” Deaton said. “We have to educate the artists that idefi allows them to earn their way rather than hope and pray that someone comes in and discovers them.”
Just a select few artists who sign with a major label earn money in record royalties, Deaton said. It’s an industry practice for labels to recoup their investment before artists see a dime in profits.
Deaton said he is surprised by how many artists understand what he is doing.
”Technology has really opened the door to artists being independent, as today you can do things on an iPad that before required going into a million-dollar recording studio,” Deaton said.
Deaton has four people on staff.
“The model for idefi is set up where we add staff as needed based on the number of artists we have on our roster,” Deaton said. “The current projection is that we would add nine staff positions in the first year following our launch in March, then increase that number as we increase users.”
Deaton plans to have more than 100 on staff by the fifth year of operation.
“These positions will mostly be in the area of artists’ development as we add staff members to work with artists one on one,” Deaton said.
Being involved at the artist development level is a big part of driving music sales, Cassar said.
“But, also it sets the stage for a fan-driven concert experience,” he said.