'You don't need a major label to have success': Why the label services sector is bigger than ever

'You don't need a major label to have success': Why the label services sector is bigger than ever

Henry Semmence, managing director of Absolute, has told Music Week that his company, and the wider label services sector, is “proving again and again that you don’t need a major label to have success”.

Semmence was speaking alongside top executives from Caroline International, Believe, PIAS, International Solutions, !K7, The Orchard and entertainment accountancy specialists CC Young.

Our special report on the label services revolution is available in the new issue of Music Week, out now.

Caroline International’s UK label head, Nicola Spokes, told Music Week that, “In times past, label and artist services perhaps used to be seen as quite separate to the frontline label offering. But, in the three years since the inception of Caroline, the landscape has shifted considerably.

“Independent artists and labels alike now see label services as a viable option to mount a chart-topping, global campaign.”

Ian Dutt, managing director of Sony-owned artist and label services company The Orchard, put the rising importance of the sector down to a change in the thought processes behind campaigns. “People’s mindsets have changed,” he said. “Maybe two or three years ago a manager or artist would have only considered a services model if they couldn’t get a label deal. Now, it’s a consideration alongside a traditional deal.”

Richard Sefton, director of UK sales and distribution at PIAS (who work with Partisan and Cigarettes After Sex, above) said labels “need– and have long needed – viable options and alternatives to the traditional model”, while Paolo d’Alessandro, chief international officer at International Solutions, underlined the sector’s expansion.

“Label services as a sub-sector is no longer just a distribution route with a couple of extra perks,” he said. “It has become a complex system built to allow repertoire owners to focus entirely on their creative mission and have very little entry barriers to the industry.”

All sector representatives quizzed by Music Week underlined the importance of streaming to growth in label services.

Ben Rimmer, director of UK distribution & label services at Believe, said: “Artists can now make profit sooner without having to sign away their rights for a lifetime. Companies like Believe can support this with fair deals and the ability to take an artist to multiple markets without having to have an established label identity. Streaming companies and radio stations are no longer asking what the brand releasing the project is, but rather what is audience engagement and marketing plan.”

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