Ursa, the soon-to-launch music streaming service, is announcing a new artist sponsorship initiative. Initially tested at SXSW this year, the initiative aims to support artists and help them connect to their fans via merchandise and ticket giveaways, fan experiences, and expense reimbursements. Recognizing that artists of all levels are looking to connect with their fans in new and meaningful ways, Ursa has sponsored over 30 artists to date, and is expanding their merch buy initiative through a series of sponsored live events. It's a natural extension of the service's artist-centered ethos.
"It's easy to say you're committed to artists, but as musicians and industry veterans ourselves, we want everything we do to support artists' goals and needs," says Ursa co-founder Chad Royce. "These partnerships with high-caliber artists demonstrate that we're willing to invest in the artist/fan connection and put our money where our mouth is."
Ursa's most recent sponsored event took place at the newly reopened Webster Hall in New York with the band Real Estate. The band wanted to make the night feel like more than just another hometown show, and the partnership with Ursa Music facilitated just that. "We are fans of the band and had generally pitched Ursa's artist partnership initiative to the band's management; we'd sort of just left it on the table with them. So, when Real Estate came to their management asking how they could make this Webster Hall show feel like something special, we were their first call." says Bo Brannen, Ursa's Director of Artist Relations. The Real Estate event was an opportunity for Ursa to support the band creatively and help them get a production element across the finish line while simultaneously connecting with the band's loyal fans.
Because of Ursa's sponsorship, the band was able to work with longtime collaborator Craig Allen, of Callen Creative, to create a custom on-stage visual experience for the sold-out show. Ursa also facilitated a merchandise giveaway that resulted in the band selling out of merchandise. "It was great to see this initiative play out on a larger scale. Fans love getting free merch and the invitation to download the app. Artists like it because they get the guaranteed income and are able to reward the fans who are buying tickets to their shows. It's a win-win." says Larissa Brown, Ursa's Head of Artist Relations.
The event with Real Estate is one of the larger initiatives Ursa has done to support artists directly and spread the word about the platform. "We have worked on live events with artists from many different genres and at different career stages, but this was our most integrated partnership yet," says Chris Jones, Ursa co-founder. "We looked at our collaboration with Real Estate as an opportunity to test our initiatives. It confirmed for us the need to prioritize connecting with fans on the ground and not just digitally."
Identifying partnerships that would be truly meaningful to artists and fans came naturally to the Ursa team. Ursa was built to be a streaming service created with artists' interests in mind; the platform gives artists control over extensive profiles and lets them attach content like liner notes and artwork to their music; it also brings producers and engineers into the mix and links music via credited profiles. These features reveal the fascinating network of individuals involved in the creation of each track and aid in new-music discovery. The streaming service goes beyond mere sound delivery, it is digitally recreating the real-world music community.
Ursa is in an invitation-only beta and will be launching publicly this fall. The artist relations team is currently connecting with management companies and artists at all levels to provide them with early access to the streaming platform.