AWAL requirements are actually a good blueprint for any working musician

The Crazy Daysies at 1904 Music Hall in Jacksonville. (Photo: Indie Art South)

AWAL is getting some attention for its royalty model and for the fact artists retain rights to their recordings. Kobalt Music Group has combined its recording assets under the AWAL umbrella, having acquired that company in 2012. The focus is on indie music.

So what does it take to get on board and what can an artist expect if that happens? 

The royalties are far more generous than most corporate interests in the US pay; rights retention adds icing to the cake. Taking note, Music Business Worldwide ran a story with the following header:

“Kobalt invests $150M in independent artists to challenge ‘stupidity’ of traditional major label deals”.

What does an indie need to do to hook up with a company replete with successful indie artists, to the tune of a billion streams?

AWAL spells it out on the company website. Obviously, the company looks for “strong creative quality.” Social media are also important, but just having followers isn’t enough. You need engagement with those followers. You need press. You need a solid brand. And you also need a team, not necessarily a Madison Avenue team, but people to assist you in building a fan base.

AWAL isn’t just about streaming and stats, though:

“Stepping out of the digital world, we also look for artists who are no stranger to putting on successful live gigs. The ideal candidate will have a track record of bringing in crowds to live venues and may even be considering / gearing up for the next leg — touring.”

On the company website, you can read all the criteria AWAL considers when someone applies. You can apply via the company website.

The criteria AWAL lists are actually a good blueprint for any musician who wants to get beyond playing gigs in his or her hometown. If accepted, you’ll find the basic terms pretty straightforward:

“The AWAL deal is a simple digital distribution license with a 30 day rolling term which means that you can terminate your agreement with us at any time on 30 days’ notice. We take a 15% share of revenue that we collect for you. There are no additional fees for distribution and no upfront or annual fees for uploading or storing your release with AWAL.”

Both artists and labels can apply.

Shortly after Kobalt acquired AWAL, Music Row featured an article that included info about artists:

“The Artist and Label Services division is propelled by the company’s acquisition of AWAL, which distributes and promotes the recorded music of more than 5,000 independent labels and artists, including Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys, the Editors, and Moby. Through the acquisition, Kobalt obtains access to AWAL’s worldwide distribution network of more than 200 digital retail partners, including iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, eMusic, Rhapsody, 7Digital, Beatport, Deezer, Nokia and 247.”

Partnerships have increased since then.

Whether you’re aiming to sign on with AWAL or just hoping to build your own grassroots following, one thing is obvious. Indie music is on the rise. That’s a good thing for anyone outside the cookie cutter farm controlling most of the airwaves.

(Kay B. Day/March 19, 2018)

One thought on “AWAL requirements are actually a good blueprint for any working musician”

  1. We release 1-6 singles every week with Awal and I only warn artists and labels to stay away from Awal. They have on multiple occasions messed up our releases by not delivering our tracks to platforms resulting in our tracks on going live when they are supposed to. They also never seem to be in a hurry to rectify the problems they have caused as it takes weeks for them to solve a problem.

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