After pioneering a more artist-friendly live-streaming paradigm as the founder/COO of Veeps, which sold to Live Nation at an eight-figure valuation in 2021, Sherry Saeedi now has her sights set on disrupting the major-label business model. Saeedi, veteran music manager Nick Lippman and Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus have teamed to launch Verswire, which will utilize a venture capital approach to help artists make money and grow their businesses without going into debt while doing so.
Somewhat in the vein of the long-running TV show “Shark Tank,” Verswire, which also counts Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz as a strategic advisor, will make custom investments into both new and established acts depending on their needs, while also working directly with these partners as an incubator to dial in everything from distribution, sponsorships, artist development and Web 3.0 strategy.
Rather than not making any money until they’ve paid back a large advance from a label, artists will instead participate immediately in other revenue streams with Verswire and keep majority ownership of their masters. The equity split will be based on “when we think we’ll break even and at what percentage, and what’s fair to the artist,” Saeedi tells Variety. “They’ll always keep the lion’s share, because we’re treating artists as entrepreneurs for the first time ever.”
“Traditional record label deals never really allow the artist to make money off of, or own, their content, which still baffles me to this day,” she continues. “No other industry functions this way. Nick, Mark and I were tired of seeing the same iteration of the same archaic business model that is not in favor of the artist, no matter how anyone tries to spin it.”
Lippman says Verswire differs greatly from traditional artist services companies because “artist development is the core of what we have. These aggregation-style labels are a volume business that may not care about the quality of the music or the artist. We want to be a home for people we all really care about from the top to the bottom.”
Having veteran stars such as Hoppus and Wentz on the team is a huge step in that direction, with Hoppus in particular taking a key creative role and facilitating sessions with top songwriters and producers for the company’s first signing, Beauty School Dropout (pictured below). The Los Angeles rock band released a new single, “Assassin” today (May 25), featuring a video with appearances from Hoppus, Wentz and Paris Jackson.
“They really want to do the work to make the band happen, which is paramount,” Hoppus says of Beauty School Dropout, who are managed by Lippman. “So many times, labels will sign something that’s hot, hope they can get a hit and then move on quickly. We want to go back to, ‘OK — you’re a band starting out. What do you need? What can we bring to you? How can we make this thing blow up?’”
“They’re great kids and great songwriters, and they have a nuanced understanding of the business,” Wentz adds of Beauty School Dropout. “I talked to them about what they were doing with their own NFTs. It’s always great when an artist has a very distinct perspective, because building that for someone can be very difficult if they don’t have it.”
Noting how the nascent blink-182 was nurtured by veteran scene bands such as Pennywise, Hoppus hopes to bring that “all hands on deck mentality” to Verswire. “That’s what I loved about coming out of the punk rock community,” he says. “There was an ethos that when you get your chance to shine, you bring along all of your friends. That’s what I want to put into Verswire, so that we can work with artists who are just starting out, in the heyday of their career or are a self-running machine and need very little from us.”
Saeedi says Verswire is on the verge of signing four more artists and is also in conversation with top acts in non-rock genres to come aboard as A&R mentors and advisors. “We can handle it all, and the resources will be tailored,” she enthuses. “Our goal is to build the next multi-platinum worldwide sensations while also taking care of established artists that major labels just don’t care about or service properly.”