3Tone Faces Increasing Pressure from Industry

Yesterday, CMU reported on the detailed allegations of significant mismanagement at 3tone, a digital music distributor based in Bristol and headed by Dean Roberts and Christoffer Borud. Since our article gained traction on social media and was picked up by other media outlets, more artists have come forward to express their complaints about broken promises and missing royalties. As a result, key organizations within the industry have been contacted by affected members, with artists, managers, and labels expressing concerns about the fate of their music that has been delivered to streaming services via 3tone.

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CMU has taken the initiative to reach out to key suppliers and partners of 3tone within the digital supply chain. These industry professionals have assured us that any music currently available online will remain accessible for the immediate future. However, it’s important to note that 3tone’s ability to deliver new releases may be significantly impacted from an operational standpoint. Therefore, artists and managers with new tracks that are not yet live are urged to urgently contact 3tone and, depending on the response they receive, explore the possibility of using an alternative distributor for any immediate releases.

In light of our coverage, key stakeholders from across the industry have reached out to CMU, expressing deep concern about the situation at 3tone. These stakeholders have also highlighted individuals who have already been in contact with worries about the uncertain future of their music with 3tone.

David Martin, the CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition, an organization representing over 4000 artist members, commends CMU for shedding light on these issues within the music business. The allegations against 3tone Music appear to be credible and serious, and their priority, along with the staff, is to ensure that all affected artists receive what is rightfully owed to them. Martin urges any concerned FAC members to send a confidential email to [email protected] He also emphasizes the necessity of a serious industry-wide discussion about protecting artist revenues. Holding royalty income in escrow and ensuring transparent and timely payment as agreed upon in contracts should be standard practice.

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Annabella Coldrick, the CEO of the Music Managers Forum, which represents over 1500 artist manager members, shares her deep concern regarding the allegations against 3tone Music. While it remains unclear how many artists and managers may be impacted, Coldrick stresses the urgent need for providing access to any owed money. She emphasizes the significance of artists and their managers having confidence in their distribution partners and the importance of ring-fencing and protecting accrued royalties. Coldrick references the collapse of Pledge Music and expresses hope that lessons have been learned, stating that it should be standard practice for distributors to safeguard their clients’ revenue in escrow. MMF members who have concerns about CMU’s investigation findings are invited to contact [email protected]

Gee Davy, the Chief Operating Officer for the Association of Independent Music, which represents over 1000 member businesses, acknowledges the worrisome situation portrayed by CMU regarding 3tone. Davy hopes that 3tone is in a better position than reported and urges the company to communicate with all parties involved and make any necessary payments promptly. AIM is already in discussions with its members and the wider independent music community, collaborating with other trade bodies to gather accurate insights. The goal is to provide appropriate guidance and practical steps if needed. Any independent music rightsholders directly connected to the issues outlined in this report are encouraged to reach out to [email protected], where the AIM team can provide the necessary support.

Davy emphasizes the critical role that digital distribution plays in releasing music in 2023. It is crucial for all labels and artists to have trust in their distribution partners, and, for the most part, this trust is justified. AIM will continue its work alongside the Distribution Action Group to build upon the best practices initiated with the Digital Distribution Switch Code. Their goal is to foster a safe and responsible digital environment for all rightsholders.

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