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Universal launches a new urban focused label geared towards commercial use

Universal Music Production Music has announced that it is launching an ‘urban music focused label’ called BLOCK in conjunction with hip-hop music management firm London Boy Entertainment.

According to the company, the London-based label will “draw on influences from the unique urban scenes of the UK and the US”, including, “sounds and overtones crafted especially to suit the needs of TV, film, radio and advertising producers.”

The company will work with artists and producers from LBE’s roster, including ADP, Alan Sampson, Levi Lennox and Tiago who between them have helped to craft the music of Rihanna, Alesha Dixon, Naughty Boy and Emeli Sandé.

The aim is to create a number of albums for commercial use, while drawing on hip hop and urban trends from the US and UK. Some of the categories included in the first releases will be “Attitude, “R’n’B” and “Urban Rhythms”, allowing TV execs and film editors to choose the “appropriate” sound for their commercial intent.

Kris Piling, UK senior producer at BLOCK, says that production music clients love using urban and hip hop for commercial purposes.

“Production music clients love authentic urban music,” says Piling. “It’s still quite an untouched landscape, so we’re thrilled to have BLOCK in our arsenal as it means we can offer content producers a quality of urban music that has only ever been available on the commercial side.”

Using music for commercial placement, known better as the “synch” market or “synching”, is becoming a more and more prevalent within the music scene. Once reviled and seen as a sell-out, even indie and alternative artists are now using synching to make a living.

The managing director of London Boy Entertainment, Sef Naqui, says that, “The beauty of BLOCK is that we’re putting out music from the same pool of tracks that are being pitched to contemporary recording artists and labels across the world. UPPM works with us to select their favourites and then we act real quick to ensure they’re not signed up elsewhere first.

“We’ve got such a strong set of producers now that we’ve got enough material to cover all channels. We’re really excited about the UPPM partnership because it puts our incredible artists in front of content creators world-wide, giving them potentially great media exposure, and us an additional income stream. And for UPPM clients it means they could be using music from the next big urban artists before they’ve even broken.”

Is the burgeoning synch market a good or bad thing for the music industry and up-and-coming musicians alike? For now it looks like one of the only viable ways to get exposure and a decent pay check.