The below MBW blog comes from Simon Platz, Managing Director of Bucks Music Group – one of the world’s longest-running independent music publishers, with a catalogue that includes works written by the likes of David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Professor Green, Rudimental, Beyonce and more. Platz (pictured) is also a founding member of the collective commercial body for independent publishers, IMPEL. His view below follow the news that over $1bn in independent publishing assets – including ole and Carlin Music – could be sold this year.
Another year passes in the music industry and, as predicted, the pattern of consolidation continues.
We’ve recently seen independents in the record business aggressively consumed by big corporations. But, as Carlin Music and ole are put on the block, we’re reminded that consolidation is no less relentless in the world of publishing.
Nor is the trend of independent publishers being swallowed up any less detrimental to artists than the fall of indie labels.
“I’m hoping that, if Carlin Music and ole must go, they go to worthy custodians rather than simply being swallowed by the highest bidder.”
That’s why I’m personally hoping that, if Carlin Music and ole must go, they go to worthy custodians rather than simply being swallowed by the highest bidder.
Obviously the evaporation of competition in any industry is never regarded as a good thing. It so often leads to an imbalance of power, a slowing in innovation and, perhaps most significantly, a lack of choice for both creators and consumers.
But when it comes to the balance between major and independent entities in the music publishing market, there are more specific things worth considering – and, indeed, worth fighting for.
At Bucks, we’ve always been realistic. The major corporations boast financial clout that independent outfits are neither willing nor often able to match.
For certain songwriters at certain points in their career, it’s simply time to take the giant cheque. Perhaps they want to take a break, buy a house, or have a family.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to bank a big advance. But it does come at a cost.
Remember that major music publishers are invariably part of towering conglomerates with large overheads and scrupulous shareholders to satisfy every year.
“More often than not, as in the label community, it’s the indie publishers that take on development duties.”
Under that kind of pressure, only the top writers – those that can make a real difference to the bottom line – will be considered a priority. The rest are often left feeling anonymous in the big machine. Nothing personal; it’s just business.
More often than not, as in the label community, it’s the indie publishers that take on development duties. We are the ones who uncover writers with potential, we are the ones that help them hone their skills, and we are the ones that will give them the time and space needed to create something special.
We’re often in at the beginning and we’re always in it for the long-term.
Simply put, as the independent publishing landscape erodes, so too does the haven for young, talented writers in need of nurturing.
And there’s another problem. Let’s not forget that most if not all of today’s major music companies have significant stakes in DSPs like Spotify.
Considering that one of the biggest campaigns dominating the headlines at the moment is for artists to see more money from streaming, that should cause concern.
Whether the problem stems from bad contracts, a lack of transparency or the DSPs themselves is up for debate.
“Simply put, as the independent publishing landscape erodes, so too does the haven for young, talented writers in need of nurturing.”
As we all jostle for a fair deal for artists in the digital transition, the conflict of interest is rightly troubling for many. Where is the impetus for a major company to fight for larger streaming payouts when it holds equity in the very platforms considered to be at the root of the issue?
The music business as a whole has been through turbulent times; it’s only natural that it emerges as a different beast on the other side.
We have to make sure, however, that it remains a competitive, diverse and balanced business for the sake of artists and writers everywhere.
A strong independent community is a vital part of that vision.Music Business Worldwide