Caroline International’s bosses have told Music Week that the services model still has a bright future, despite the traditional label business boom.
Artist and label services were born out of the music industry’s 21st century slump and the digital revolution. As record deals became harder to come by, and veteran artists were released from their contracts, they would make their own records and partner with services companies in order to continue serving their fanbases.
But yesterday, Music Week revealed Q2 figures that show the business is now in a sustained period of growth. So, with major labels starting to blow the dust off their cheque books, where does that leave services companies?
Still in a good place, at least according to this week’s Music Week cover stars, and 2018 Music Week Award winners Caroline International. Their burgeoning business has seen them help the likes of Iggy Pop, Glass Animals, St Vincent, Gaz Coombes and Nine Inch Nails to even greater heights in recent times – and co-managing directors Jim Chancellor and Michael Roe say there will still be a place for their innovative model, which combines indie passion with major muscle, however successful traditional labels become.
“Everybody is competition now,” Roe told Music Week. “There’s a lot of young, savvy artists and labels now and they’re questioning which way to go, the traditional route or a services route. So, even traditional record companies are competing in the same world that we’re competing in at the moment.”
“The market will tell us soon,” added Chancellor. “If artists change their minds and start going back to the normal, bigger record companies and taking the cheque, then maybe this part of the business will start to lose pace. But it doesn’t feel like that.”
If you spend your time looking at what everybody else is doing, it just fundamentally distracts you from the job in hand
Indeed Roe confidently predicted that there was “room for both models in the marketplace”.
“There are certain managers or artists that want that more traditional route,” he said. “[They want] the security of a big machine around them. Whereas, when you come to work with Caroline, we absolutely provide support but the manager and the artist have got to be really wedded to the relationship. They’ve got to be very, very involved and very creative within it and if they’re not, it’s more of a difficult relationship, because we’re not there to take over. We’re there to work in partnership with somebody.”
Competition has also intensified within the services sector, with further mergers and acquisitions expected after Sony Red, Essential and The Orchard combined, while Kobalt’s AWAL is making big moves in the sector. But Caroline International UK label head Nicola Spokes insisted Universal-owned Caroline was focused only on its own business.
“You can’t constantly obsess about the competition and everyone around you,” she told Music Week. “We have an amazing team here, loads of expertise and we all have great gut instinct and passion. If you spend your time looking at what everybody else is doing, it just fundamentally distracts you from the job in hand.”
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