How Wise Music Group is changing the publishing game

How Wise Music Group is changing the publishing game

Wise Music Group managing director David Holley has told Music Week the newly rebranded publisher is “a big player” in the industry.

Wise Music Group recently changed its name from Music Sales Group, and Holley laid out his vision for its future alongside group head of media Marcus Wise in this week’s issue.

“We’ve got continuity. We like working with people over a longer term. We give people a chance to breathe and we support them,” said Holley of the company, which represents Philip Glass and Ludovico Einaudi, among others, and has worked with Rufus Wainwright and The National’s Bryce Dressner.

Specialising in classical, the organisation began in the 1930s as a sheet music business – which it sold in 2018 – and has offices in London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Copenhagen, Tokyo and Sydney. Wise has just signed new deals with Evan Dando and Ólafur Arnalds.

Marcus Wise, son of founder Bob, said: “As an independent, we can move nimbly, signing or acquiring catalogues we’re passionate about. We work directly with composers and I enjoy the personal approach in what we do.”

The pair’s full interview can be read in full in the magazine (or online for subscribers here). Below, we give you an extract of from our Q&A with David Holley.

Where does Wise Music Group sit in the wider industry landscape?

“We are one of the leading music publishers in the world and we're probably one of the least known. We’re a pretty big player and probably don’t emphasize this enough.  We’re very strong at sync. How do you differentiate yourselves as publishers? It's about supporting people and getting them syncs, writers are always very keen for that. We punch above our weight and we've got what’s probably the biggest and best promotion team focusing on instrumental work for classical performers. Lots of our writers on that side of the business come to us and stay with us because they're very pleased with the work that our classical promotion team do. I can’t think of anybody who can who is at our level. We’re No.1 at promoting people into concert halls and ballet halls, delivering the complicated scores for orchestras and developing partnerships.”

We are one of the leading music publishers in the world

David Holley

How would you sum up your offering?

“Our job is to find writers we can help develop over the long term and, and, support towards achieving their potential and maximise the income that they generate from their work. We’re one of the best at doing that. And we're not a crowded roster in the same way that the majors have shelves and shelves of writers. If you sign with us, you get a very personal service with great people who have great experience. We're pretty dynamic. We’re trying to sign significant people. We’re expanding geographically and buying companies overseas all the time. That’s part of our essential DNA.”

What are your plans for the future?  

“It’s about asking how we can make money for our writers and of course, subsequently for ourselves. We see the industry as very healthy. We’re encouraged by the copyright reform that’s happening across Europe. What’s also really exciting, is that more equitable intellectual property regimes are happening in Africa, India and China. We’re starting to get some interesting revenue through from those areas, and that's part of our long term strategy. There are really interesting opportunities developing in the global market."

PHOTO: Chris Lopez 

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