Since the big Imagem deal that shook up the biz two years ago, Concord has been building its global presence as a music publisher. The UK office aquired as part of the takeover has grown as the company has snapped up more catalogues and made more signings.
In the latest issue of Music Week, Concord COO Glen Barros reveals that the label side is now set to be expanded in the UK in the months ahead. Concord will maintain its global distribution deal with Universal Music, while beefing up the UK label operation.
Prior to the Imagem deal, Concord Bicycle Music was focused on recorded music and it maintains a roster of established acts including Santana, St Vincent and Elvis Costello. Here, Barros opens up further about the UK and the opportunities in the streaming economy…
Where do you view the UK market in the streaming environment?
“It’s growing substantially and it’s going to help drive global growth for quite some time. There’s still a long way to go, but it’s very exciting to see the level of growth that’s happening in the UK market and abroad.”
What’s driving the label growth at Concord, is it purely streaming?
“No it’s not just streaming. For us, the growth is also being driven by investment – we’ve acquired a number of things so that’s part of it. But also in terms of the organic growth, streaming is driving it and for us we focus quite heavily on physical. A lot of our genres lend themselves to physical, in particular vinyl. We’ve been very aggressive in our vinyl releases.”
The streaming prices have been static for several years, should they go up?
“We always focus on fair value for music and I guess that’s a somewhat subjective notion. But for the moment it’s about expanding the subscription base, inviting people in and getting them to really see what it’s all about. I think that’s the prevailing concept at the moment, that’s what’s likely to endure for a while until the market matures.”
Do you want to see more competition in the streaming market?
“Competition is a good thing for, sure. it’s good for everyone. It helps keep the market moving in the right direction. But what I’d like to see is that some of the genres that are less commercial are not being left behind by the streaming services. Things like jazz and classical and blues that really haven’t moved into streaming yet. I’d like to see there be more focus on serving that customer and giving them more of what they want, so that we see these genres actually flourish in the streaming world as well.”
It’s about expanding the subscription base and getting people to see what streaming is all about
Can Concord compete with the majors in global markets?
“We feel so. A lot of our repertoire has been American, but as we acquire more and more repertoire outside of America - we have two large latin [recorded music] catalogues now with Fania and Musart. Musart specialises in regional Mexican music and we’re doing very, very well in Latin America with those catalogues – as we are with our American repertoire. But we certainly want to look for additional investments.”
How do you feel about the culture for breaking artists?
“It’s an entirely different business than it was years ago and there’s no formula, so every artist has a unique combination of the elements you use to try and break them and develop them. Some are traditional and have been around a long time such as terrestrial radio, and others are new in terms of playlisting and social. So all of these are all elements that we put into every marketing plan with a goal of breaking an artist.”
We’ve seen a slightly more combative approach between labels and streaming services, such as Warner and Spotify in India. What’s going on?
“It is an evolving market, things are changing and every company is trying to compete, trying to find the right balance and so sometimes there can be friction in that. But more importantly, at the heart of it is a spirit of partnership. At the core there is the fundamental fact that we need each other, so there has to be a balance of the business terms to make that work.”
Going back to the Concord publishing business, you’ve got a Mark Ronson release coming up in June. What are your hopes for that record?
“Mark’s an amazing artist, we’re just very, very fortunate to work with him and the sky's the limit for him. He’s incredible.”
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