360 Degree Services for the Music Industry
Taken from an Article by Robert Horsfall – Sound Advice/Connected
In an interview with Word magazine (February 2009), Lilly Allen said “I’m really famous and I sell a lot of records, why aren’t I a millionaire? Don’t sign a record deal – that’s my advice. Do it yourself! And definitely don’t sign a three-sixty deal. Actually, I want to start a management company, called Seven-Twenty.”
Whether or not 360 degree deals are here to stay, it is safe to say that the music industry landscape has irreversibly changed, such that there is an increasing burden on the advisory team surrounding the artist. As Lilly Allen reveals, the new generation of artists aren’t just internet-savvy, they are business-savvy and will rightfully expect more of their managers and advisers.
It has always been the manager’s job to liaise with a typical team line-up of label, publisher, agent, lawyer and accountant. Now the line –up can be as extensive as the first team squad of a club competing in the Champions League. With labels outsourcing more functions; with artists favouring self-administration of their music publishing; with artists having DIY digital, e-commerce, merchandising and website strategies; with managers taking over some of the functions traditionally handled by agents, promoters and ticketing agents; with touring now being a more complex all-year-round and global function, the role of the manager is now more complex and demanding than ever before.
Notwithstanding the efforts of bodies such as the MMF, the IMMF and conferences such as In the City and the ILMC, there is no formal “schooling” for managers: rather, they simply “learn on the job,” absorbing what they can from those around them, learning from experience (and mistakes), all the time expected by their acts to show that they are in charge, or at least in control. The manager’s “lot” can be a tough one: not getting credit when things go right, but getting stick (indeed, the chop) when things go wrong.
The UK has not seen many uber management companies, akin to those that exist in the USA. Nor has the UK mimicked the American model of “business management,” where, typically, an accountancy team handle all financial management functions for an artist (Tenon’s acquisition of the law firm, Statham Gill Davies in the late 90s was a short lived attempt at this).
In recent years, however, we have seen the move by MAMA /Supervision to introduce a co-operative / umbrella type structure for managers, giving them an infrastructure under a partnership type model. We have also seen other “mentoring” artist management link-ups.
We have also seen the emergence of Edge, a predominantly legal team immersing itself in the important live and funding sectors.
Change breeds change. We cannot afford to stand still in comfort zones. Clients’ needs and wishes have to be responded to.
The basic philosophy of a new business is to have a structure and infrastructure that empowers artists and their management / advisory teams. The artist management community all too often suffers from “cottage industry” criticisms. Legal and accountancy teams are often criticised for insufficient proactivity, obsessions with long client lists, poor communication skills, inappropriate charging models.
The 360 degree deal necessitates a 360 degree service behind it. Never before has it been so necessary for lawyers and accountants to work together for the good of artists and managers. Contracts are now living and breathing documents, constantly impacting on the daily modus operandi of the label / artist relationship. Indeed, labels themselves admit they do not yet fully understand the mechanics of touring, ticketing, merchandising, endorsement deals and e-commerce. A huge burden falls on the managers – hence the need for managers to move out of the “cottage” .