Deadmau5 has always been a vocal character, usually playing the “asshole” of most situations he’s involved in. In a turn of events, his newest conflict seems to be a beneficial one, and should serve as a serious wake-up call to major labels trying to ride the EDM wave.
The words “major label” themselves usually have a negative connotation, often associated with stories of creative stifling and similar artistic restrictions. While I’ve always wondered why Deadmau5 signed to a major in the first place, it does make sense given the sheer size of his fan-base. However, it seems like he’ll stand for it no more, ditching Capitol/Astralwerks in favor of a new, independent music publisher Kobalt. If you think you recognize that name, it’s because you probably do. Their roster includes names like Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, and Skrillex; if having the support of names like that does not prove Kobalt’s value to the music industry, I don’t know what will.
To put it into Zimmerman’s words:
The label does what’s good for the label. Always.
He had a severe distaste for the lack of transparency within the major label system, losing control over content and never hearing about it. One incident in particular that stuck out was his near-inclusion on 2014’s Now That’s What I Call EDM compilation, voicing his opposition for the misrepresentation.
That’s where Kobalt comes in. Their platform will allow Deadmau5 to retain complete control over all of his content. Mau5trap will also be moving, allowing Joel and his own team to deal with the ins-and-outs of releasing his and his artists’ music. Kobalt’s president Richard Sanders had this to say:
The deal was focused mainly around flexibility and affording him the opportunity to release his music in any way shape or form he’d like. How it’s monetized will be up to his direction and his control.
It should be noted that both Ultra and Universal still own the licenses for Joel’s back catalogue until 2027 and 2029 respectively, so he’s not completely out of the woods yet. However, that being said, this is still a bold move that will most-likely pay off for Joel. With complete creative control over all future releases, the future is bright for Deadmau5 and Mau5trap.
And if you were curious, Joel also reveals how much he has in his bank account…
“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”