• Bg Chatsworth House Library

The Music Business: United we stand?

The Music Business: United we stand?

Chair: Chris Cooke, CMU Insights (UK)

Guest speakers:
Sam Bush, Live Nation (UK)
Chloe Forsyth, Harbottle & Lewis (UK)
Jeremy Lascelles, Blue Raincoat Music (UK)
Korda Marshall, BMG (UK)
Ric Salmon, ATC Management (UK)
Marsha Vlasic, Artist Group International (US)

The 360-degree deal where one company provides everything an artist needs to succeed was the subject of this panel, with representatives from across the industry debating whether an all-encompassing deal was appropriate for today’s music business, and looking at why it hasn’t worked in the past. 

A traditional, major-label record contract is becoming less relevant as artists increasingly turn towards DIY solutions and new music companies like BMG and Kobalt, that provide transparency and services-style deals, said Ric Salmon of ATC Management. Jeremy Lascelles agreed, adding: “Very soon, an artist will come from nowhere and become a global superstar without any involvement with a traditional record deal.” Lascelles imagined an artist career being funded by one investor that shared various revenue streams fairly and under a deal where rights to the music eventually reverted back to the creators—a modern day version of the 360-degree deal. 

Salmon responded: “The challenge that all of us face in the music industry is that we have to make sure that the ecosystem between the artist and fan is as simple as possible. Historically, there have been far too many mouths to feed in that ecosystem. For all of us, the closer the artist and fan relationship, the simpler and purer that ecosystem is, and the better for all involved.”

It’s management companies that are the closest to providing artists with all the services they need under one roof, and the amount of data available has made that possible, Salmon said. However, with the standard management deal being 20% of earnings, margins are tight during the development period. He added: “I would like us to be in a position where we can fund things, either with other partners or with an outside investor.”

"For all of us, the closer the artist and fan relationship, the simpler and purer that ecosystem is, and the better for all involved”

As a lawyer, Chloe Forsyth said that she has no problem doing a deal whereby two rights, like publishing and recording, “may go to the same person, as long as the deal in relation to them is fair, and the people you’re giving those rights to know what to do with them.” She added: “The problem with 360 deals [in the past, is that] rights were taken by people who weren’t the right people to manage them.”

In response to an audience member who questioned whether there’s a future in revenue from recorded music, with the new business being in live, branding and social media, BMG’s Korda Marshall asserted that, thanks to streaming, there is still money to be made from music alone. 

“I get paid $5,000 for every million streams, and I pay my artist 75% or 50% of that," he said. "If I get 10m streams it’s $50k, and for 100m streams $500k. Alt J have 1.7 billion streams, so that’s a lot of money. And when the [amount of people using streaming subscription services] become 500m or 750m, there is a huge amount [of] money [that’s still to come].”