At the aggregate level, the story of EDM’s shift into mainstream popularity has been one of the “big four” record labels struggling to control a cultural phenomenon that’s proven much bigger than they could ever be. As the proliferation of music streaming services has translated into a paradigm shift affecting how the creators of the product reach its consumers on a massive scale, the growing pains have undoubtedly been felt by these recording industry giants more than anybody else.
The latest instance in this ongoing saga arrives as the ever-controversial Joel Zimmerman A.K.A. deadmau5 has announced his decision to sign with independent record label Kobalt Music. After a stint with big four label Universal Music Group that followed his rich history with Ultra Music, the mau5trap records founder and decorated progressive house tastemaker has aligned himself with a more personal outfit that has distributed music for the likes of Trent Reznor, Dave Grohl and Paul McCartney – as well as Skrillex, who was himself one of mau5trap’s early signees.
Zimmerman has expressed in the past that he owes not only his infamous outspokenness but also his continued integrity as an artist to decisions he’s made that have helped him retain as much control over his brand as possible. With this switchover, he will inherit full rights to his Ultra catalogue by 2027 and that of Universal by 2029.
“I’ve got $130 million in the bank and a whiteboard full of cool ideas for emerging markets and technologies where we’re gonna test the waters and see what happens,” Zimmerman told Billboard. “And that’s how you become the first — not by using the old traditional broken-ass model.”
Business aside, what best defines deadmau5 as a fixture of the EDM movement is his consistently game-changing productions. Now that the ink has dried on his newfound partnership, we look forward to seeing what he releases through Kobalt Music in the months to follow.