A music firm started by two unemployed musicians has become a global hit with thousands of artists worldwide including legends like Prince and Suzi Quatro.
Ditto Music, which recently turned down an investment offer valuing the company at £2 million, has released music for 12,000 unsigned musicians from its offices in the Jewellery Quarter.
Its owners now tour the world, sitting on panels alongside record label bosses and addressing big music industry events to discuss the changes which have rocked the music world since the advent of digital downloads.
But things weren’t always so glamorous – the firm was set up by struggling Edgbaston musicians Lee and Matthew Parsons in 2007 after they were signed to Sony but then got dropped by the label.
Instead of languishing on the dole, the brothers decided to take matters into their own hands and set up a record label to release their single – and their business success has soared since then.
Twenty-eight-year-old Lee said: “Pretty much any artist who is not signed and who wants to release something comes to us.
“We don’t sign people, our model is completely different to a record label.”
Instead Ditto Music offers packages of services to unsigned artists and asks for a one-off fee to distribute and promote their music, allowing the musicians to keep the proceeds of their tracks.
Ditto, which employs seven people, made chart history in 2007 by helping the first unsigned band break into the Top 40 – a track called Blag, Steal and Borrow by pop-punk band Koopa.
Over the last three years, the firm has had seven UK Top 40 singles, all with unsigned artists, and has been used by artists like Prince, Lil Wayne and even Rolf Harris to release music without going through a record label.
Mr Parsons believes the secret to Ditto’s success is that the brothers understand the needs of unsigned artists as they were once in the same position.
“The whole music industry thinks in a monetary way, whereas we understand the way musicians think.
“Musicians are emotional people and you have got to give them the service they want.
“We’re doing what the record companies should have been doing years ago – it shouldn’t need two kids in Birmingham to realise that for them. It just goes to show what you can do.
“We have done this for the love of releasing music – we weren’t making any money for ages.”
But having recently turned down an offer from an angel investor in London, valuing the firm at £2 million, the brothers want to keep their options open for the future.
For now they are focused on expanding and are in the process of opening a new office in Liverpool.
“We are still considering our options – we are kind of happy to see how it goes,” said Mr Parsons.
In the meantime, the entrepreneur will be spending the next month at various industry events around the world.