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Digital-only international record label celebrates first year of business with global artist roster and a Billion streams from its MediaCityUK base

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Howard Murphy with Jon Corner

Manchester’s technology-driven international record label Ostereo is celebrating its first year of business with 20 international artists on its roster who between them have already enjoyed 400 million music streams and over 1 billion YouTube views.

The company, which is based at The Landing at MediaCityUK, was established in 2016 by Blackpool-born musician Howard Murphy. In 2012 Howard founded the internationally acclaimed music sync and licensing company Amurco and worked with a number of premium global brands including Ferrari, Mercedes Benz, IKEA and Sky.

His vision for his next venture, Ostereo, was to adapt the traditional record label formula and look for a new entry points utilising the tools and technologies driving social media channels, user-generated content platforms, and the growing global network of digital music streaming services.

Twelve months on and Howard’s label now boasts a roster of over 20 plus artists drawn from across the world and across multiple genres. Many of these enjoy millions of streams, YouTube views and social shares every month, and are generating healthy incomes from music streaming royalties and other commercial activities linked to their high online visibility and massive popularity.

One such breakthrough act is Korean pop sensation J.Fla who since signing to Ostereo 14 months ago has seen enormous growth in her social media presence throughout Asia and the US.

This includes amassing over 100 million video views per month, and gaining over 4.5 Million subscribers to her YouTube channel. J.Fla currently ranks 54 in the world on YouTube, having more videos per month than The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce., and has charted with tracks in Singapore and Taiwan, Korea and China without ever having officially released a single.

Ostereo has also recently expanded in to distribution taking on new territories where they can see artist metric spikes and are currently hitting 2.5 million streams per day in China and counting across the roster.

At the heart of Ostereo’s creative and commercial philosophy is the matching of top quality music produced by highly original artists combined with direct fan engagement across a range of digital channels and social platforms.

This is undertaken through the use of specially developed algorithms and online search tools which identify and connect with influential music enthusiasts and heavy users of streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and YouTube.

Ostereo then utilises multiple marketing strategies to bring their artists and tracks to the attention individual influencers, many of whom create their own public playlists which are avidly followed by thousands of others.

Once successful in securing a spot on popular user-generated playlists, Ostereo then utilises other key platforms to drive fan awareness and increase engagement.

This includes uploading regular clips and videos to YouTube, promoting other digital content aligned to their artist’s campaign, and calibrating social media activity on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram to capitalise on the online buzz being created.

Ostereo is then able to leverage this massive grass-roots online fanbase to engage with the likes of Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music and YouTube and to get their artists selected as ‘ones to watch’ or ‘recommended’.

Such endorsements and increased visibility helps to then generate a second wave of streams, views and social shares as more fans discover the track, which in turn can lead to national radio stations, music TV channels and other mainstream media sitting up and taking notice.

Howard’s revolutionary peer-to-peer approach to digital music promotion, which to date has never seen Ostereo produce a single CD or vinyl record, has resulted in his business going from strength to strength since launching a year ago.  He now employs 12 staff and plans to double the size the company, and significantly expand Ostereo’s artists roster, over the next year.

Howard also sees Ostereo as much as a big data company as it is a record label, and believes being based at The Landing in the heart of MediaCityUK has contributed massively to Ostereo’s success.

He said: “With Ostereo I wanted to create a totally new kind of record label which is all about engaging with fans directly, understanding their individual tastes and meeting their expectations with accessible, innovative and exceptional music in a format that works for them, and not the record label.

“And whilst the music still has to be amazing, we appreciate that mainstream media like to see evidence of a grass-roots fanbase before committing to playlisting a track. We therefore leverage the established core fan engagement we’ve helped generate through social media to create a risk-free entry point for traditional radio and press to get behind one of our artists.

“Being based at fantastic global media hub like The Landing, which has amazing technology and an inspirational atmosphere, has really helped us drive the business. There is also a creative and collaborative vibe around the whole of MediaCityUK which myself and the Ostereo team are able to tap into.”

The Landing’s chief executive Jon Corner said: “As a former musician, band member and music producer I am very proud that a company as dynamic and genuinely disruptive as Ostereo has been able to achieve so much in such a short time while based at The Landing. The fact they are generating significant incomes for their artists from a world-wide fan base, without ever having created a physical format is remarkable, as is the fact Howard has done it with a team of technologists and project managers who don’t have traditional record label backgrounds.

“It’s also great that Ostereo credits The Landing and MediaCityUK as playing a key role in their success so far, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how we can support them on the next part of their journey.”

In addition to J.Fla, who is currently working on tracks with Dianne Warren and Sigala, Ostereo’s roster includes atmospheric artist Nina June, one of Holland’s fastest rising stars; and cult UK house DJ, Joel Corry. Ostereo has also recently signed stunning vocalist Lizbet Sempa, a pioneering contemporary musi