Universal Music Group is looking to the world's most popular online video site for its new stars.
The music giant has partnered with TV producer
The label, called Awesomeness Music, already counts artists such as singing sister sextet Cimorelli and singer-songwriter Niykee Heaton. Rifkind said Awesomeness is set to sign two new artists in the next two to three weeks.
"We want to show the world that there's a new way of doing business," said Rifkind, best known for founding Loud Records and SRC Records. "We're using YouTube as a marketing arm and as an A&R source. The great thing is, we can reach our fans at the press of a button."
YouTube can provide a huge audience for music artists.
Music accounts for much of the most popular content on YouTube, which counts 6 billion viewing hours a month for its videos. The site has helped propel the careers of hit-makers including South Korean rapper
Cimorelli, known for vocal harmonies and covers of popular songs, has amassed 2.75 million subscribers for its YouTube channel, and its most popular videos have generated tens of millions of views. Heaton's video for her song "Bad Intentions" has earned about 1.32 million views.
Companies such as Universal Music Group want to take advantage of that audience.
This is not the first such joint venture for the Vivendi-owned music giant. Last year, Universal Music partnered with Robbins, Simmons and Rifkind to create All Def Music, which was also designed to sign, develop and promote YouTube up-and-comers.
"We feel both these companies could be the next Island or the next Def Jam," said Rifkind.
Robbins is the creator of AwesomenessTV, the YouTube network that was acquired by
Entertainment companies have shown great interest in the so-called multichannel networks that aggregate YouTube channels, hoping to reach the younger viewers who follow online video stars.
Universal Music's Chairman and Chief Executive Lucian Grainge serves on the board of directors of DreamWorks Animation SKG.
The record company also owns Def Jam, which Simmons founded with Rick Rubin in the early 1980s.