Everybody knows that YouTube is big business, playing no small part in helping its owners Google generate $50 billion in revenue from streaming around 6 billion hours of video each month, and now a new partnership between record label majors is looking to make use of the video website’s enormous popularity and profit-making opportunities.

Def Jam co-founder and music mogul Russell Simmons has set up a new record label dedicated to finding and breaking artists on YouTube. The new venture, called All Def Music, is a partnership between Simmons’ YouTube channel All Def Digital – which he set up alongside film director/producer Brian Robbins – and the Universal Music Group, as Billboard reports.

All Def Music is “the first major label-affiliated music company created specifically to sign, develop and promote artists on YouTube,” according to statement issued by Universal, with the new partnership also seeing the launch of ADD (All Def Digital) Management for the artists they break through the YouTube ‘record’ label.

Hading up the new label is music executive Steve Rifkind, known for founding hip-hop label Loud Records in 1992 and heading Universal’s SRC until 2012. Rifkind has been named the CEO of All Def Music and ADD Management. “Tapping into YouTube’s fertile creative platform, we intend to identify, develop and nurture music’s next generation of superstar talent,” said Rifkind of the new label.

“The exponential growth of Internet-based video has created a powerful new outlet for music and music-based content,” wrote Universal Music Group chairman Lucian Grainge in a statement about the new business. “…The first major label-affiliated music company created specifically to sign, develop and promote artists on YouTube.” – UMG statement

“The launch of All Def Music is a part of our broader strategy to partner with some of the most experienced entrepreneurs in media and technology to identify future stars and develop powerful content on the world’s fastest growing media platform,” he said.

Simmons echoed sentiments expressed in the initial launch of the ADD YouTube network, saying in a statement that “This is the most exciting new terrain for me,” said Def-Jam mogul Simmons of All Def Music; “To move talent across all media platforms and I couldn’t have better partners in Brian and Steve, and the most innovative of music executives, Lucian Grainge.”

Although the All Def Music label gets its official launch next year, it already has its first signings. Namely, comedy rapper Spoken Reasons (real name John A. Baker, Jr.), who recently released his latest single ‘#HauxTwerking’ (yes, really) to his 1.37 million YouTube subscribers, and rapper Asher Roth, who has a similar number of YouTube subscribers and will feature in an “unscripted music-themed show” titled Lemonade, according to Billboard.

While Universal is moving in on the untapped YouTube market, independent musicians are ahead of the curve and already making very tidy careers from the video streaming website. Including the first indie artist to surpass 1 billion YouTube views, the cottage industry of Gummibär, and the story of how a composer makes $30K a month thanks to acid-jazz, a New York based online startup, and licensing fees.

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine