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WALTZING THROUGH WHAT’S NEXT WITH CREATE MUSIC GROUP’S JONATHAN STRAUSS

Create Music Group first established itself by leveraging YouTube and new tech to develop artists’ careers. Since then, the company has expanded its brief considerably, cultivating a suite of services to monetize and protect copyrights—and attracting a brace of major music companies as clients—and growing its own extremely popular YouTube and TikTok networks. Now Create has acquired a majority stake in The Nations, whose network of YouTube channels has more than 60 million subscribers, simultaneously launching a JV to develop properties in the emerging web3 world. We asked Founder/CEO Jonathan Strauss to give us the lay of the land; oddly, he didn’t tell us to get lost. 

You’ve been building your owned-and-operated TikTok Channels, Flighthouse and Retirement House, and acquiring and developing several popular channels on Instagram. Now you’ve acquired The Nations. How does this fit in with Create’s overall strategy?
We're building a universe in which we leverage our massive audience for the benefit of the artists we work with. The music industry has traditionally relied on marketing but has never actually been able to control the attention of the consumers of their content the way a Disney can. Over the last two years we’ve been building this audience through both acquisitions and organically, as we’ve done with Flighthouse, one of the biggest channels on TikTok, with 28 million followers. We now have direct access to more than 400 million music fans, something that no other music company can say.

Create and The Nations are both companies born out of YouTube—Create began as a YouTube monetization enterprise and The Nations as a tastemaker. Now that Create is a full-service distributor, why did it make sense to acquire The Nations?
You can look at Spotify as a perfect example of the success of combining technology with a curated experience. The Nations is an incredible tastemaker, and when you leverage our technology around audiences and user-generated content, you’ll see a serious amount of firepower behind our artists’ catalogs.

This acquisition includes the independent record label Lowly. What are your plans for that?
Creighton Burke, Andre Benz, Sarah Landy and the rest of the team at Lowly. are building the label of the future, in my opinion. They are signing great artists and then leveraging The Nations’ tastemaker channels on YouTube to create real excitement around their releases. A great example of this is their work with Said the Sky, an electronic artist who’s seen incredible success after Lowly. deployed his music across our network of YouTube, Instagram and TikTok platforms.

You’re not only expanding your footprint in the U.S., but last year you acquired Nirvana Digital, a multi-channel network in India. How important is the ex-U.S. market to your strategy?
The market potential for online music and media in India is staggering: More than 50% of India’s 1.3 billion population is under the age of 25 and more than 94% of online consumers in India listen to music. Nirvana Digital was already the Create Music Group of India, with a YouTube subscriber base of more than 200m and growing. This has been a hugely successful deal for us as we continue to grow our base in India. We will continue to look for opportunities like this in developing markets throughout the world.

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