'It's a big initiative': Concord's Tom Whalley talks global label ambitions

'It's a big initiative': Concord's Tom Whalley talks global label ambitions

Music Week broke the news last month that Concord is launching a UK label operation. It follows a few years of serious growth on the music publishing side of the company.

But the British label venture is just the start for Concord, which is looking to expand on its partnership with Universal. Here, chief label officer Tom Whalley opens up about his global vision...

What are your ambitions for the UK operation? 

“It’s the first step for us. The most important part of it is to build a global marketing platform along with our relationship with Universal. We think that’s a big initiative. In the world of music that we predominantly live in, which is the musician’s world, the international focus generally isn’t there. A lot of artists are signed at small companies that don’t have the international reach, or in many cases the bigger companies are not really focused on that kind of music. We want to give all of our artists global opportunities and we think this is the best way that we can do that. Having an MD [in the UK] and putting a staff together with Fred will be our big first move.”

What other territories are you looking at?

“We are starting smaller in other countries and we want to prove the model out of the UK. Australia, Germany, those are the countries we will be thinking about having some focus in, but we will not put a full staff together in those countries in the short term. Eventually that is our goal.”

What will the label structure be?

“We have three different pieces of our recorded music division – the frontline [labels], our repackaging of new releases of catalogues, and the third tier is what I would call deep catalogue. The plan is to put staff together and focus around those three things and grow our business from a Concord global business. I think the aim is to continue to bring focus to any legacy artists in our career catalogue and to do great work around building global careers for our frontline artists.”

More and more artists are looking at Concord as an option

Tom Whalley

Why did you want to make the UK a first step? 

“I think it’s an obvious first step. Certainly when you’re working with a frontline artist in the indie world, it’s kind of where they start thinking about, ‘Okay, well what can we do in the UK, and then if we go in the UK we can spread ourselves into other countries’. That’s why we’re not avoiding other territories, but the UK seemed like the best place that we could be day-to-day connected with, where if we put a staff together we could work closely with that.”

How is the business going generally?

“I think things are going fabulously well. For our frontline artists across all senses of marketing – from radio formats in America, to streaming, to licensing and the traditional sales of vinyl and CD, which a lot of our artists still do well with – our services are the best they have ever been. Therefore, in terms of bringing in new artists, there’s a real awareness of what our abilities are on their behalf. More and more artists are looking at us as an option.”

And you have a personal association with Loma Vista...

“Loma Vista is my company, so yes. I do two things. I run frontline releases at Concord recorded music and Sig Sigworth runs the catalogue division. We work closely together, and Loma Vista is my company. St Vincent is working on a film project at the moment, so I think when that’s all done she’ll probably start working on new music. We have a rap artist, Denzel Curry, that we are doing quite well with and also Ghost, who has been over in Europe touring with Metallica. We’ve got an interesting stable of artists.”

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