INgrooves Fontana announced today that they have added five new vendors to the company’s list of preferred partners.  The new additions bring INgrooves Fontana’s preferred client list to nearly 20 in all, including such well known brands as Topspin, ReverbNation, Mobile Roadie and SoundCloud, which the company fully integrated into its client console earlier this year.

These new additions give INgrooves Fontana clients immediate access to the following valuable services:

  • ONErpm
    An integrated Direct to Fan platform that allows clients to easily set up stores on Facebook.
  • Uncommon
    Provider of custom, artist-branded iPhone cases available to INgrooves Fontana clients, which are printed on-demand and can be sold via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • StoryAmp
    A website providing labels and musicians a vehicle to get press releases, concert information, music, and photographs to relevant journalists across the country at no cost.
  • BandArt
    Powered by Creative Allies, BandArt enables bands and brands to easily set-up and manage a design contest for logos, apparel, posters, packaging and more via a custom Facebook application.
  • Audiolock
    Offering complete protection against piracy on a central platform – from creating and managing secure, traceable, watermarked digital promos through to a range of anti-piracy scanning and takedown services.

“We are always striving to help our clients diversify, enhance and protect their revenue streams,” said Jeff Straw, Director of Marketing Services and Licensing for INgrooves Fontana.  “The addition of these new preferred partners gives our clients easy access to valuable and useful services for their releases, all at preferred rates.”



It was announced today that music and media executive Jay Boberg has been named Chairman of the Board of Isolation Network, the parent company of INgrooves Fontana and INscribe Digital, a leading provider of distribution, marketing and promotion services to the global music and book publishing communities via its proprietary ONE Digital Platform.  Mr. Boberg replaces Vincent Freda who served as Chairman of the Board since 2008.  Mr. Freda was recently named Chief Operating Officer of Isolation Network.

Mr. Boberg has served on Isolation Network’s board since 2010, when Shamrock Capital Growth Fund II made a significant investment in the company.  In addition to working as a close advisor to Isolation Network Founder and CEO, Robb McDaniels, Mr. Boberg played an integral role in the company’s recent acquisition of Fontana Distribution from Universal Music Group.

“Jay’s comprehensive knowledge of an array of entertainment businesses, earned over nearly 35 years in leadership positions in the industry, has made him a very valuable counsel to me and our entire executive team these past two years,” said Mr. McDaniels.  “As we enter the next phase of our growth at Isolation Network, Jay’s guidance will become even more crucial to our long term success.”

Since 1979, when at the age of 20 he co-founded one of the most prominent independent music labels of the 1980s, I.R.S. Records, Jay Boberg has created significant value for each of the companies he has led.  Driven by such signings as R.E.M., Oingo Boingo, the Go-Gos, English Beat and Fine Young Cannibals, I.R.S. attained more than $500 million global sales before being acquired by Thorn/EMI in 1993.

In 1994, Mr. Boberg left the indie world to serve as President of MCA Music Publishing, where he reshaped and re-staffed the company, achieving immediate success with Alanis Morissette.  Eighteen months later he was appointed President of MCA Records where he presided for nearly 10 years, signing and developing artists as diverse as Blink 182, New Radicals, Sublime, The Roots, Mary J. Blige, Sigur Rós, Shaggy and Drive Thru Records.

Mr. Boberg then established Liberation Entertainment in 2005, an independent film and television company which achieved many global successes including the animated television series, “Wolverine,” and TOKYO, a highly praised film by director Michel Gondry.

“Robb McDaniels and his team have built an extraordinary company from scratch through a combination of maverick vision, technological innovation and a commitment to providing value and extraordinary service for their artists, labels and book publishers,” said Mr. Boberg.  “The Fontana purchase represents just the beginning of an aggressive set of initiatives to transform INgrooves and INscribe into global market leaders.  I am very pleased to be on Robb’s team.”

Additional changes to the Isolation Network Board of Directors include the departure of Peter Morrissey and the addition of Christine H. Park, a Vice President at Shamrock Capital Advisors.

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Robb McDaniels of INgrooves dishes on the state of digital music

Pop & Hiss- The LA TIMES Music Blog

Robb McDaniels of INgrooves dishes on the state of digital music
May 8, 201 | 8:00am

What do Thievery Corporation, Universal Music Group and Dolly Parton have in common? They all use INgrooves to distribute their music to more than 600 digital stores worldwide, including iTunes,, eMusic, 7Digital, Verizon Wireless and countless others.

San Francisco-based INgrooves has been in business for 10 years, but few people have heard of it or its chief executive, Robb McDaniels. That’s beginning to change, in part because the company earlier this year purchased Fontana, a Los Angeles distributor of physical albums for more than 200 independent labels.

INgrooves is turning the most heads, however, for its role in the new digital economy. Last year, INgrooves distributed songs that rang up roughly $1 billion in digital revenue. And while it’s true that distribution isn’t the kingmaker it once was, as only a handful of labels have the resources to ship albums to thousands of physical stores, it’s an interesting perch from which to witness the digital tidal wave that has permanently transformed the music industry’s retail landscape.

As a sign of how much things have changed, McDaniels, 37, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address on Wednesday at the annual Music Biz conference of the National Assn. of Recording Merchandisers, the 54-year-old group once dominated by the likes of Tower Records, HMV and Virgin Megastore.

We spoke with McDaniels, a former financial analyst for Marsh & McLennan Securities, about the next wave of technology to hit the mainstream music industry in the solar plexus — on-demand streaming services such as Spotify, Rhapsody, MOG, Rdio, Slacker, Muve and others.  Now instead of getting pennies per download, artists are having to wrap their heads around building their careers on fractions of pennies per play. Here’s an edited version of the interview.

There’s a lot of debate about whether streaming music is actually a good or bad deal for artists. Which is it?
RM: It’s a complex question with many different answers depending on a number of variables, including the type of artist, genre of music, specific fan demographic and generally appetite for new technologies and formats. When chaos reigns supreme, everyone looks for a single answer that is globally applicable and it just isn’t possible with the streaming debate!

Fair enough. Give us an example of an instance where it might not make sense for the artist to debut albums day-and-date with streaming, and one where it does make sense.
RM: With an artist that’s starting out, making music available on Spotify or other streaming services is a no-brainer. But if an artist has a lot of fans, the calculus becomes more nuanced. Then you have to balance the long-term annuity of the streaming services with the immediate payout of traditional retailers, both online and physical.
Also, with chart positions still being so important in the industry, at times it may help push an artist into that No. 1 spot by strategically leveraging retailers that are measured by Soundscan in the first weeks of a release and shift to streaming services after that. Although this is being resolved [now that the Billboard Hot 100 list incorporates on-demand plays to measure hotness].

The labels are strong supporters of streaming music now. This runs counter to the popular notion that labels care only about protecting CD sales. What gives?
RM: I think that streaming represents a format change — the first since Napster made the download ubiquitous — and the labels have taken a lot of heat for not initially embracing the digital download and legally licensing [the first version of] Napster. They don’t want to make the same mistake twice. Streaming services like Spotify, Rdio and MOG are also fantastic alternatives to P2P file sharing. So the labels would like to support this legal substitute.

Do you think people are buying fewer songs because they can get unlimited, free access to them from these subscription services?
RM: If the streaming services are able to convert illegal P2P users who aren’t currently paying anything at all, then those consumers will actually be paying more. For those that were downloading in the past but are now streaming, the hope is that their engagement with music actually goes up and they end up spending more money listening, sharing and purchasing other things of value offered by the artist, like tickets and merch.

Paul Resnikoff, publisher of Digital Music News, recently urged artists not to put the Spotify Play Button on their Facebook page. Do you think his reasoning is sound?
RM: I think we, as an industry, should focus more of our time and effort on creating new ways to enhance the value of the artist-consumer experience instead of just saying “don’t do this or that.” If an artist wants to put the Spotify Play Button on their Facebook without offering any other value proposition, then that is their prerogative. I think that any means of engaging the consumer, including streaming music play buttons, can be a positive thing for artists if used correctly and augmented with other “stuff.” Let’s get creative people!

Ian Rogers, who will be interviewing you for your keynote at Music Biz, a year ago gave a presentation at the New Music Seminar arguing that the 99-cent download is dead, that artists should focus on other revenue streams. Do you agree?
RM: But the CD hasn’t died yet! And Vinyl has come back to life! Maybe none of it is dead or alive — maybe it is all just “evolving.”

What WILL consumers pay for when it comes to music?
RM: They’ll pay what it’s worth. Music plus experience equals value.




Freda Will Lead Operations for ONE Digital, INgrooves Fontana and INscribe Digital

(SAN FRANCISCO, CA) Isolation Network, Inc., parent company of INgrooves Fontana and INscribe Digital, a leading provider of digital distribution, marketing and promotion services to the global music and book publishing communities, announced today that it has appointed industry veteran Vincent Freda to the position of Chief Operating Officer.  The announcement was made today by Founder & CEO, Robb McDaniels.  In his new role, Mr. Freda will spearhead the combined operations of the company’s three business units, oversee the ongoing expansion of the company’s ONE Digital Distribution platform, and assist Mr. McDaniels with oversight of the Finance and Engineering groups.

Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Freda spent over two decades at Universal Music Group, most recently as Executive Vice President of Digital Logistics & Business Services, a position he held since 2004.  In this role, Mr. Freda was instrumental in establishing UMG’s technology relationship with INgrooves that has seen INgrooves’ ONE Digital platform become the backbone of UMG’s digital distribution infrastructure in North America.  Prior to that, Mr. Freda served as Senior Vice President of Common Label Operations at UMG, where he was responsible for centralizing label activities resulting from the merger of UMG and PolyGram.  He has served as Chairman of the Board of Isolation Network since 2008, when Universal Music Group (UMG) made a strategic investment in the company.

 “As a demanding client and an enthusiastic Chairman of the Board, Vinnie has provided crucial advice and guidance as we have aggressively grown the Company over the past four years,” said Mr. McDaniels in making the announcement.  “Having him fully integrated into the parent Company on a full time basis will enable him to contribute on an even greater level to our continued success.”

Mr. Freda commented:  “Under Robb’s leadership, Isolation Network has grown exponentially over the past few years, becoming a major force with its recent acquisition of Fontana Distribution.  I look forward to working yet more closely with Robb and the entire team at the Company as we continue our global expansion in multiple facets of media marketing and delivery.  We have assembled all of the pieces for an even more exciting period of future growth.”

 Mr. Freda’s career in the music industry began in 1988 when he joined Warner Bros. Records as Manager of Recording Administration.  He moved to MCA Music Entertainment Group in 1989 where he rose to the position of Vice President of Administration. In this role, Mr. Freda revolutionized operations by developing the first integrated cost-tracking and product-scheduling systems ever used by MCA’s group of labels.  In 1996, he was named Senior Vice President of Business Operations for MCA Records.

 Mr. Freda holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.  He will split his time between Isolation Network’s San Francisco headquarters and INgrooves Fontana’s Los Angeles offices.


(SAN FRANCISCO, CA)   March 8, 2012    Isolation Network, Inc., the parent company of INgrooves Fontana, announced today that veteran sales executive Amy Dietz has been named General Manager of INgrooves Fontana.  In her new position, Ms. Dietz will oversee the day-to-day operations of the combined companies, reporting directly to Dave Zierler, President of INgrooves, and Ron Spaulding, President of Fontana.  She will be based in the company’s San Francisco offices.  The announcement was made today by Robb McDaniels, the company’s Founder and CEO.

“Amy has spent more than 15 years in the independent distribution business and brings a wealth of experience and deep relationships in the music community that make her a fantastic addition to INgrooves Fontana,” said Mr. McDaniels.  “Under Dave and Ron’s leadership she will help to direct the combined INgrooves Fontana team and ensure that we continue to provide unparalleled service to all of our label clients and retail partners.”

In 1996, Ms. Dietz joined ADA where her career flourished, rising from a regional advertising manager to the position of Vice President of Label and Artist Development for the independent distributor in 2010.  While at ADA, she took an active role in developing and managing the company’s label partner services including global physical and digital distribution, merchandise sales, direct-to-consumer sales, general sales and marketing.

“I’m excited to be working with Robb and the rest of the INgrooves Fontana team,” said Ms. Dietz.  “We have a great opportunity to build upon the best-in-class infrastructure of the combined companies to provide an even greater level of service to meet the dynamic needs of indie labels and artists.”

Streaming – Setting the Record Straight. (by Robb McDaniels)

It’s a format change – that’s why it is stoking so much fear and anxiety in the marketplace.  The ability to “access” your media and stream it to any device, anywhere is simply the logical progression of technological development that has led us from vinyl to cassette to CD to download to stream.  With each of these format changes, there were a lot of other things that changed as well: economics, marketing strategies, product types and level of consumer engagement are just a few aspects of the music ecosystem that were forced to adapt to the new, different reality.  Some “good” and some “bad” always emerges from these format changes and its impact on any specific artist, label, manager or consumer of music is dependent on numerous variables including: music genre, age of fan base, geographical location and the ability to adapt quickly and embrace the new paradigm.  We all know it is hard to let go of the old and bring in the new – it’s human nature to be wary of the unknown future – but let’s try to rationalize the differences between what’s old and new so that everyone can make a more informed decision about how they want to react to the new reality.

Here are the things I know to be true based on my own experience in digital music, our own internal analysis at INgrooves and my gut:

1)      Future: The streaming access model is the direction we are currently headed and, by the time CDs are the size of the vinyl market, it will have likely replaced the download as the favored digital consumption option. From the music fan’s point of view, streaming services are an important leap forward in the evolution of the consumer experience, providing access to a legal, portable, robust and on-demand music offering for a small monthly subscription fee.

2)      Less Money, More Money: A lot of emotional debate has surrounded the question of whether the per stream payout is significantly less valuable than a download payout for artists.  While this is true in the short run, it is also true that many artists stand to make more money over a longer period of time from streaming than from downloading and, if artists believe in the eventuality of #1, then it behooves them to start monetizing their streams sooner rather than later. By doing so, they will shorten the time until the “breakeven point” – where their cumulative streaming income from a single user is greater than their download income from that user. They will also immediately begin to benefit from users discovering and streaming music they otherwise wouldn’t have found and downloaded, thereby adding to the cumulative total.  The breakeven point, depending on the artist, song and genre, is typically between six months and three years.

3)      Measuring ARPU: Average Revenue Per User is an often referenced, and reasonably meaningful, metric used by streaming services to make their case for the potential economic benefits of this new format.  The argument basically goes something like this, if the average iTunes customer purchases $8 worth of music a month, then the $10 per month charged by the streaming services should result in a gain of 20% paid through to the rights owners.  This is the right way to look at it, but if you dig a little deeper there are other questions that emerge, including:

a.       over what time period will this migration happen?

b.      Is there a “type” of user, like the heavy user, that will shift formats faster thereby negatively impacting ARPU in the short term?

c.       Will current heavy P2P users migrate over to this format more quickly, thereby positively impacting ARPU in the short term?

d.      ARPU increased for the digital industry in countries like Sweden, but was this simply because the streaming services (mostly Spotify) were incentivizing P2P users to pay the monthly fee?  If so, won’t the impact be different in countries like the U.S.?

4)      Impact on Indies: Any music service that makes experimentation easy stands to benefit the independent music community, and our data so far suggests that the “sales curve” for Spotify is a lot flatter than iTunes. In fact, when measuring the sales decay curve for the top 100 songs in a recent week, we found that songs between number 20 and 100 averaged approximately 30% more activity than on iTunes, when measured as a percentage of the entire sample group of 100 songs on each retailer (i.e. – the 75th most popular song on Spotify represented a relative 30% greater level of activity than its peer on iTunes).  However, the potential negative implications of any short term cash flow impact is sure to strike the indies the hardest.  Additionally, while some emerging artists will benefit from being “discovered” on Spotify and will move up the sales demand curve, other emerging artists could realize a net negative impact because they will no longer see the immediate income from downloading (which they sometimes earn when a consumer downloads a song they never listen to), and it could take them significantly longer to reach the break-even point as mentioned above.

5)      Charting as a Deterrent: Until Soundscan finds a way to translate streaming activity into its units sold calculation, artists that have a potential top 10 hit on their hands may choose to window their release to streaming services.  The PR benefits from a number one release are too great for this not to be considered by labels, managers and artists.  If they are sure that the streaming services are not cannibalizing sales or that the promotional benefits outweigh these risks, then it makes sense to release on the streaming services immediately, but I certainly understand that the pros and cons are different for each artist.

6)      Premium Access and Value Added Products: Let’s sell super fans on access, exclusivity and privilege.  I know who my favorite 20 artists are and I would be willing to pay an extra few dollars a month to have access to their new releases first and access to exclusive songs and deals. Think of it like cable TV – as a consumer, I am willing to pay more than the cost of basic cable for premium channels with great content.  Make it easy for me to add and remove artists from my subscription and you have a very valuable product for fans and artists.

7)      Marketing Investment Strategy: Labels have traditionally frontloaded projects with the goal of making back their investment in the first weeks after release. If streaming continues to make up a larger portion of sales, resulting in more money over a much longer period of time, then labels will have to rethink how and when marketing dollars are spent to promote a record and bring it more in line with the sales cash flow.  Streaming services could look at ways to offset this timing issue.  All streams are not created equal.  The fact is that new releases or popular songs are the engine that drives music fans to streaming services.  It’s only after they arrive at the streaming services that they discover and listen to other songs.  The acts that are responsible for driving the traffic and usage could get a higher fee for their pro rata share, which will help offset the new release marketing costs.

8)      Integrated Social Tools & Filters: The casual fan has trouble sorting through all the noise.  Yes, social media integration does provide an amazing amount of recommendations, but most of my friends aren’t experts; they only think they are!  Let’s bring back the DJ – the tastemaker – much like did most recently.  These talented people can help us save time and navigate us through the world of disinformation and allow us to define what pop culture is.

9)      ISP Cooperation: While there has been some recent progress with ISP cooperation, I believe that the access model should inspire them to become more aggressive.  Remember, all that content is moving across their mobile networks (predominantly) and they stand to earn billions in data and usage fees.   The technology exists to easily monitor this and steer consumers to legal models.  One of the biggest issues is that some music fans think they are actually buying from legal services when then spend $0.10/song on downloads from some Russian based service (they don’t know they are in Russia) but artists never see a penny.

10)   Let’s Remember To Ask “What’s Next?”: Innovation cycles are only condensing so let’s not spend too much negative energy debating the merits of the streaming access model; before long the next big thing will be staring us in the face, and we’ll have to adapt more quickly than we are now.  There’s some group of kids in a basement somewhere that could care less about items 1 through 9 above. They only care about connecting artists and fans … wait a minute – isn’t that what the industry is supposed to be doing?!?!

The recent growth and adoption of streaming music services like Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio and MOG is another transformative event in the generational shift from physical to digital consumption of media.  We are now slightly more than half way through that shift, and we have seen the recorded music industry sales decline by 50%, with labels and artists losing the ability to monetize the music experience.  However, these new platforms – and the rest of the ecosystem that supports them – represent a real opportunity for the industry to embrace the functionality they provide, reclaiming the relationship between artist and fan in a meaningful way.

The ideas expressed herein are not the only ones out there and are not meant to be proprietary.  I am only trying to think outside the proverbial box and come up with ways to get us all on the right track towards a healthier and more robust industry that continues to deliver great music to fans while efficiently serving the artist community.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. The irony of releasing this commentary on Groundhog Day should not be lost on industry veterans that have been through the tape, CD and download format changes!

Robb McDaniels is the Founder and CEO of INgrooves


New features include extensive sales analytics & reporting tools, social network marketing, preferred rates with third party services and more.

(SAN FRANCISCO, CA)       INgrooves, a leading provider of digital distribution, marketing and promotion services to the global music and video communities, today unveiled major upgrades to the user interface and console of its ONE Digital music distribution and asset management platform.

INgrooves has always made it easy for their clients to reach more consumers via a global retail network of more than 400 retail, mobile and streaming outlets.  With the new upload tools and reporting features, clients now have even more power to manage their digital business. New improvements to the Console now enable INgrooves clients to:

  • Easily choose retailer and distribution options to over 200 territories globally
  • Pay US mechanical royalties automatically
  • Mine and analyze more detailed analytical sales trend data from key retailers across product types, territories, retailers and more
  • Generate presentation-ready graphics and reports
  • Compare sales data between UPCs, artists, genres or titles
  • Effortlessly generate buy-links for any product within a catalog and share release information directly to social media networks
  • Access key third party services at preferred rates such as cd manufacturing, direct-to-fan tools, analytics services, artwork design and mobile app creation from companies such as ReverbNation, Topspin, Next Big Sound, Creative Allies, and Mobile Roadie

Developed in-house by ONE Digital engineers over the last decade, the ONE Digital platform currently delivers and manages digital assets for over 2,000 content partners, including ReverbNation and Universal Music Group, the largest music company in the world, who uses the platform to distribute all of their digital content in North America.  INgrooves’ clients include Fat Possum, Dualtone, VP Records, ESL Music and Rostrum Records, with whom INgrooves recently celebrated a Number One U.S. album with artist Mac Miller.

In unveiling the new console for customers, Robb McDaniels, CEO & Founder said: “Our proprietary ONE Digital platform continues to evolve with the dynamic music market and this latest release delivers valuable functionality to our artist and label partners. Developed entirely in-house by our world class engineering team, the new INgrooves Console provides our clients with unparalleled transparency and access to reports, sales, analytics, and social networking tools to help them actively manage their digital lives.”

This time last year Isolation Network launched INscribe Digital, a division that utilizes the ONE Digital platform to deliver eBooks to online booksellers.



 (San Francisco, CA)               When Rostrum Records’ Mac Miller took the Number One spot in the country with his debut release Blue Slide Park this morning, it was a watershed moment for his San Francisco-based digital distribution and marketing partner INgrooves, physical distribution partner Fontana and for independent artists around the world.  Blue Slide Park is the first independent debut album to take the top spot on the chart in 15 years.  The last independent debut album to reach #1 was 1995’s Dogg Food album by Tha Dogg Pound.

As digital music sales continue to represent a larger and larger portion of artists’ overall album sales, a digitally-focused distribution company like INgrooves, which is a veteran player in the space and one of the largest digital distributors in the world, becomes a logical partner for independent labels and for artists who engage their fans directly. On the physical side, Fontana’s expertise as an award-winning independent marketing, sales and distribution company, helped push the album to a #1 sales spot this week with targeted marketing efforts with retailers.

“This is a big moment for the independent music community,” said Dave Zierler, EVP & General Manager, INgrooves.  “Rostrum and Mac are proof that a digitally-focused independent effort works in today’s dynamic music marketplace, by engaging fans directly and maximizing availability to all consumers via our global online retail network.”

“We’re thrilled to be a part of this history-making album.  The evolving commercial landscape calls for changes in the way that music is marketed and the success of Blue Slide Park shows a great understanding of social media, by all those involved,” stated Ron Spaulding, President of Fontana.  “To be a part of this success is very gratifying.  I see it as a vote of confidence for the independent music industry.”

“We wanted to release this album independently and on our own terms,” said Benjy Grinberg, President of Rostrum Records.  “INgrooves and Fontana have been great partners for Rostrum on this project, and the current success of Blue Slide Park is a true testament that it’s possible for us to compete as an independent on a grander scale.”

With more than a million Twitter followers and videos on YouTube approaching a total of nearly 100 Million views, Rostrum Records helped Mac build a huge fanbase online, which made a digital partnership with INgrooves even more logical.  In fact Soundscan shows that Mac sold 76% of his total 144,487 sales last week through online retailers.  INgrooves’ relationship with indie veteran Fontana created the perfect digital and physical distribution partnership by which to propel the album to a first place finish.

About INgrooves
INgrooves (parent company, Isolation Network, Inc.) is a leading provider of digital distribution, marketing and promotion services to the global music and video communities via its ONE Digital platform. ONE Digital is a proprietary software platform that provides distribution and administration to large distributors, record labels, eBook publishers and film production companies. INgrooves provides clients customized distribution, marketing, promotion, synch licensing and administrative support to help maximize the earnings potential of specific audio and video releases or catalogues. For more information, visit

About Fontana
Fontana Distribution, the award-winning independent sales and marketing division of Universal Music Group, provides unparalleled services internationally to a broad array of labels and their artists. Fontana partners include many of the world’s leading independent labels, including Eagle Rock, Downtown, Rap-A-Lot Records, Vagrant Records, WaterTower Music, American Gramophone, Kedar Entertainment, Dangerbird, Last Gang, Savoy Label Group, ESL, Music World, Delicious Vinyl, Ipecac, Six Degrees, SMC, VP Records, Notifi and Trill.