AWAL CEO Lonny Olinick has told Music Week that artists have “power that could never have existed before” thanks to the modern music business.
Appointed CEO, recorded music in January 2018, Olinick is driving AWAL’s recorded music revolution and stars in a special report alongside head of creative Alison Donald, president Paul Hitchman and Kobalt founder an CEO Willard Ahdritz in the new edition of Music Week, out now.
Already this week, we have broken the news of new AWAL deals with Millie Turner and B-Unique, now we present an exclusive extract from our interview with Olinick.
The CEO promised further investment in AWAL and more expansion to increase and maximise the potential of the acts it works with, ranging from streaming sensation and UK Top 10 pop act Lauv, to Little Simz and The Wombats.
Using Glassnote indie act Ider’s trip to the Philippines as an example, Olinick told Music Week that AWAL “goes to places you wouldn’t consider” for an initial promo tour.
“People are excited about that,” he said. “They see the data and think, ‘Wow, there are going to be real people who care’. That shows the globalisation of everything we’re doing.”
Read on for Olinick’s thoughts on AWAL’s global mindset, the threat of losing acts to major deals and the endless churn of the modern music industry.
How would you define AWAL’s global approach?
“Before, physical records being distributed took a certain amount of time and radio was the only thing that mattered. It still does, but now a song can go from Switzerland to Germany, to the UK to China in a week. If you don’t have teams that have motivations to work any repertoire, you miss opportunities. We’re structured like the market is structured. It’s a globalised market. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to understand local press or radio, you have to think globally and translate that into a local plan.”
How do you define success for artists?
“There’s a weird connotation of what success is in music. It used to be that being signed was the definition of success. Is signing away your rights a good thing? Better to be an independent artist who has a real partner to support them. We work with every artist to define their version of success. That could be 500m streams, 200m streams, a sold out tour... It’s not our job to give bland parameters; we put a plan in place to help them achieve what they want. That’s why we have the platform, so artists see traction. It’s about their vision, plus our expertise.”
It’s not our job to give bland parameters...
Does it worry you when artists such as Ray Blk and Sam Fender stop working with you and move into the major system?
“Not at all. We have a lot of artists and the objective is not to keep every single one we sign. If we do our job well, the ones that make sense for us to keep, stay. We’re continuing with Lauv, Bruno Major, Rex Orange County, Madison Beer... we’re seeing so many of them stay. We don’t spend a lot of time thinking about everyone else, we think about what we can do to deliver the best service. Part of creating a model where you have freedom is letting people exercise it. The other world is, ‘I sign you and you have no freedom for that period because you have a long term contract’. That’s not what we’re trying to create here, we’re trying to create a world that is better for artists.”
Do artists need to be more open to modernity to work with you?
“What’s amazing about this industry is people see income from day one, they get streaming and they have an audience and they have choice, because they have money flowing in. Before you had to do a deal because you couldn’t survive if you didn’t. Artists have to progress, they have power that couldn’t have existed before and that changes the way they think about everything they do. It’s completely transformed the way every artist thinks about the market.”
Subscribers can read the full AWAL report online here, Willard Ahdritz’s brief history of AWAL here and insights from various AWAL partners here.
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