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Qualified Records Launches Artist-First Model

Artist-Owned and Operated Independent Record Label Brings Full Suite Of Digital Infrastructure Tools To Industry to keep Artists at the Center of the Experience

Qualified Records is working to solidify the ways artists can remain relevant, profitable and engaged in the digital era and, eventually, the music metaverse.”

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES, April 13, 2022 / -- A recent Forbes article by industry analyst Shain Shapiro reports that the music industry ecosystem had a “banner year” in 2021 and the outlook for 2022 and beyond is strong. Streaming reviews to labels are up, music creators are working within a more equitable legal system and emerging “web 3.0” technologies are at work to make the music discovery, engagement and ownership process more fun for fans around the globe.

Yet, as Shapiro reports, sizable inequalities persist, especially for artists not signed to one of the major labels or their subsidiaries. Catalog sales now represent nearly 75% of “new” releases, crowding out the flow of newly created music to be heard, appreciated and purchased. Further, songwriters and performing artists are getting paid less and less for streaming, and assuming more and more of the risk.

Stepping into the fray to help is Qualified Records, a full-service music production and marketing company founded by two industry veterans who are matching their decades of success in the music industry with a cutting-edge technological expertise that artists of any background can potentially benefit from. With a focus on leveraging artists’ ownership rights, creative independence, and an uncompromising commitment to creating diverse music that fans and audiences love, Qualified Records is working to solidify the ways artists can remain relevant, profitable and engaged in the digital era and, eventually, the music metaverse.

Qualified Records is led by music industry veteran and studio owner Kevin McKendree (Delbert McClinton, Brian Setzer Orchestra, John Hiatt) a multi-Grammy® winner with extensive credits as a keyboardist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer and John Heithaus, ISSA® nominated co-producer and record label executive responsible for #1 charting projects working with Grammy® Winning artists Tom Hambridge (The NOLA Sessions) and Luke Bulla (Who Loves You Better), and the critically-acclaimed blues guitarist Jim Allchin (Prime Blues) among others.

Said McKendree: “It’s got to be about fair compensation for everyone involved. As it is set up now, the music creators are working for the industry. This is completely backwards, in my opinion. The industry should be there to support the artist, not the other way around. That’s why we created Qualified Records.”

Inaugural affiliated artists include: veteran vocalist Bekka Bramlett (Fleetwood Mac, Buddy Guy, Vince Gill), Swede - and a lover of authentic Delta Blues - Robert Lighthouse, Americana Singer/Songwriter Johnny Few, traditional blues guitarist Yates McKendree and the house band, The Rock House All Stars.

Heithaus said: “A generation ago, artists had to trust record labels to get their music into the world. Today, unprecedented artistic freedom is great - but it also comes with an oversupply of music competing for attention. Standing out from the masses and gaining audience engagement is becoming more and more difficult, so fan-centered multifaceted marketing programs need to developed, curated and made part of every release. This includes all of the traditional label A&R functions but so much more in terms of leveraging metadata for streaming curation, understanding the fast-emerging artificial intelligence platforms, the role of NFTs in artistic content and new music-seeking algorithms, for example.”

McKendree adds: “We always try to create music that we would want to hear. Music is like a real time, direct line to the soul. Honest and raw. That’s what our artists want to produce and fans want to hear today, so Qualified Records is on a mission to fulfill that dream and ideally create a better payday for everyone.”

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