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Talking Music, Data, and the AWAL App with Oskar Ekman, YEAR0001


The AWAL App was launched about a month ago, providing members unique insights to their streaming data. One of the App’s most engaged users includes Oskar Ekman, co-founder and artist manager at the independent record label YEAR0001. His day to day responsibilities run the gamut from handling financials and administrative tasks, to managing artists like Yung LeanYung GudYung Sherman (Sad Boys)BladeeThaiboy DigitalEcco2k, Whitearmor (Gravity Boys/Shield Gang), Nadia Tehran and V**gra Boys.

Despite Oskar’s original intention for YEAR0001 to be an artist management company, he quickly learned that his artists needed more support than they could get from distributors. He soon began offering creative and administrative support, including data collection & analysis, management, brand marketing, distribution, and other services that define a modern day independent record label. For the last two years, Oskar and his team at YEAR0001 worked diligently to build an organization that could fully service the artists they work with in every capacity—and the work has paid off, as they’ve successfully managed to build exactly what they sought out to do. “We often describe our company as an ‘unintentional record label’ because it wasn’t in our business plan … now that we have the infrastructure, we can focus more on the creative side of our company,” says Oskar. “…we may as well put out a couple of really good records.”

In order to help artists fully succeed in today’s saturated market, Oskar turns to data. Oskar pulls data from different tools to make informed decisions when planning a release. Some of these tools include Spotify Analytics, Next Big Sound, and The Hive, but the AWAL App is unique because it gathers all the information he needs to know about streaming on Spotify and Apple Music, and presents it side by side in a beautiful and informative way. “The AWAL App is great, because it gives me a quick overview of how my artist’s music is performing, on the go… I mostly use it to get an overview of how releases are progressing. I want to know how much we streamed yesterday, when I wake up every day.” For Oskar, clear and concise data offers simple solutions to many questions, including which territories to concentrate marketing efforts, and how to accurately build the careers and expectations of artists under the YEAR0001 label. These answers can be found using the AWAL App. “I use the AWAL App to plan our company finances — we can plan investments or recordings based on how much royalties we’re making month to month, instead of chasing a statement from a major,” says Oskar.

One of the biggest challenges of running YEAR0001 and managing artists, is making sure the administrative side to the business runs efficiently, providing artists with all the tools they need to succeed. “It’s cool to say you have your own record label, but it’s really nice to say that you account for royalties to your artists every month. The data we collect every day helps us to accurately build our artists careers and expectations,” says Oskar. He hopes that access to data gives creators motivation (instead of pressure) to make the music they want to make.

Data driven career decisions mark the beginning of a new chapter in today’s musical landscape. Oskar believes that the entertainment industry has a ‘eat or be eaten’ philosophy, founded on bad deals and a lack of transparency, which can be destructive to artists and their careers. “Now is an amazing time to work with music because there are companies [like Kobalt] that have transparency as a business model.”