If Jeff Price and Derek Sivers Had A Baby, It’d Be Makell Bird

Makell Bird of ADED.Us Music Distribution

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Jeff Price of TuneCore
Jeff Price ex-TuneCore
Derek Sivers ex-CD Baby
Derek Sivers ex-CD Baby
Makell Bird of ADED.Us Music Distribution
Makell Bird of ADED.Us Music Distribution


VANCOUVER, B.C., CANADA – Friday, October 17, 2014 (Indie Music Guide)

I can’t help but feel energized whenever I hear Makell Bird speak. From all outward appearances, he is the voice of change in a room full of corporate clones. In January of 2012, he began promoting his latest venture (ADED.US Music Distribution) and is one of the few people in the music business who is willing to divulge the secrets of it. Hearing him navigate through the ins-and-outs of the music business is like hearing Doc Brown give Marty McFly that speech about how dangerous time travel is, right before Marty jumps in the car.

From the standpoint of someone who spends a great deal of time writing about the music industry, I am immediately reminded of two other men who have changed things dramatically in the music business: Jeff Price and Derek Sivers.

Jeff Price was one of the founders of TuneCore and eMusic. He is definitely one of the most vocal people in the music business, and can also take you through the ins-and-outs of it. On the flip side, Derek Sivers has a passion for programming and web development that most people in the music industry simply do not have time for. Derek created CD Baby, and in 2008 he sold that company to Disc Makers for a reported $22 million. We don’t know how much Jeff Price made money-wise (personally) while working at TuneCore, but I’m sure he doesn’t have any money problems either.

I can see both of those traits, being outspoken and a developer/geek, in Makell Bird. Keeping that in mind, when I decided to interview him, I brought those two names up… and you’ll be surprised at his reaction…

  • Q: What made you want to get into the music business?
  • A: Well, when I was about 12 (in 1994), I would watch artists like Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, Salt ‘n’ Pepa, and Coolio on MTV. And, as I was watching them, I just felt a sense of power in their voice. They could say anything they wanted to say and the whole world would watch them, listen to them, and (sometimes) even copy them. It made me feel like music was the most powerful art form in the world.
  • Q: Can you give us some details about how you got started in the music biz?
  • A: I started an independent record label in McDonough, Georgia, where I was living at the time in 2000 shortly after graduating high school. It was called Angelic Destroyer Entertainment (A.D.E. for short). I mainly started it as a way to get my rap songs out and I would record other rappers in the area that I knew. In my circle of friends and around ‘the hood’ I was known as ‘the white boy who could help you record a rap song’ [laughing]. That’s because I was the only guy around who could record, mix, and release songs… and I was doing it for all of them for free. I knew that I had knowledge that they didn’t have and that I was in a position to help them and I did.
  • Q: How did you end up starting ADED.US Music Distribution?
  • A: I actually started out (in the music distribution business) as an artist. I was just looking for a way to get me and my partners music ‘out there’. The first company I used to distribute our music was SongCast. I honestly didn’t like the way things were being handled over there. So, I started using other distribution companies like WaTunes (defunct), RouteNote, and Record Union. While I was with Record Union, I joined their AnR program and recruited well over 1,000 artists on my own. I was, by far, one of the most successful recruiters they’ve ever had. But, once again, I didn’t like the way things were being handled and I finally got fed up enough to say “The music distribution business needs fixing”. So, I decided to create a company that took the best parts of ‘these’ companies and I left out the bad parts. Obviously, I added certain elements that I felt were needed. I’ve been in the music business since 2000 but I’ve been in the music distribution business since 2008. I started building my catalog of music by signing independent artists to distribution deals and then started securing contracts left-and-right to supply our catalog to these stores. In 2012, we were already dealing with the ‘big 4’ brands: iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and Google. By the end of 2013, I had increased that number to over 1,000 stores across the globe, divided across several major brands.
  • Q: You know, when I think about you, I am reminded of Jeff Price and Derek Sivers, do you know who they are?
  • A: Of course, you know, Jeff and Derek are basically the pioneers of this music distribution business. If it wasn’t for them, ADED.US Music Distribution might not have existed. They broke down those doors and built a business that wasn’t there (before). And that opened the flood gates for independent musicians. And when you combine that with (the fact that) the price of music producing software was going down, it’s apparent that there are millions and millions of musicians out there who (once again) need my help.
  • Q: Being that TuneCore and CD Baby are now controlled (more-so) by venture capitalists, instead of people who are ‘actually’ in the music business, don’t you feel like the underdog sometimes?
  • Well, you know what? Any time I’m considered the underdog, I’m just gonna bark loud enough for them to hear me. Because I have a Napoleon complex and I’m not afraid to use it. (laughs)

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