In an exclusive interview published today on Billboard, Deadmau5, aka Joel Zimmerman, announced that he was leaving the world of major record labels to go indie and he’s never been happier.
The interview is a bit lengthy, so I’ve written the TL;DR version for you here. The full article may be accessed by that handy dandy hyperlink above, if you are so inclined.
Deadmau5 is sick of working with major labels because “the label does what’s good for the label. Always. It’s instilled in the industry that that’s the only way to do it.” But he adds, “Well, not anymore.” This is because he is taking his business – including his recordings, publishing, and Mau5trap label – to Kobalt, an independent publishing and music-rights platform that has already started building a solid – and famous! – client base, including Trent Reznor, Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, and Skrillex.
Honestly, given Deadmau5’s outspoken opinions on the corporate machine, I’m surprised it’s taken him this long to go indie. The final straw? Universal’s “lack of transparency” and “including his music on compilations with overtly commercial titles like Now That’s What I Call EDM.”
He’s feeling much better about Kobalt, which allows him much more freedom as an artist. “I’m not saying I’m never gonna get f—ed again,” says Zimmerman. “But I do like the freedom that, if I do f— up, it’s my fault rather than the fault of someone who bought that responsibility from me.”
Though Deadmau5 makes most of his income from touring rather than from selling albums, the switch is still important: he retains ownership of his back catalogue and will regain full control from Ultra (from whom he split in 2013) and Universal when their licenses expire.
In the meantime, he’s got lots of ideas about what will happen next. “And that’s how you become the first,” he says, “not by using the old traditional broken-ass model.”