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28.09.12 Music Week 33


Fintage House prides itself on its strength in clawing back neighbouring rights monies for its artist and manager clients. Earlier this year, Fintage entered

professional support and access to global sales and marketing channels that was previously only available within the major label system. “Traditionally, a record company has added

value in the sphere of artist development and funding of recording. However, nowadays less money is being invested in artist development, and artists and their managers are increasingly capable of looking after the recording process themselves.” It is little surprise to see that established artists

are becoming particularly attracted to owning their own master rights; acts with money in the bank and a dedicated fanbase perhaps have less to lose from stepping away from the majors. In what is probably the sector’s flagship deal so

far, earlier this year Dexys Midnight Runners (shortened to Dexys) released comeback LP One Day I’m Going To Soar via the BMG’s masters model, distributed by Absolute. Its Top 20 success didn’t make it a mega-seller – but showed that the masters model can deliver respectable numbers. Typically, BMG licenses master rights from

artists, who get to choose the team which works their record both at home and aboard. Dexys manager Tim Vigon said: “When you’re

talking about one of the UK’s most legendary artists, it’s important to be able to hand-pick a team that has the necessary clout and passion. The BMG model has given us that freedom.” Last week, multi-platinum-selling artist

Anastacia followed Dexys to BMG on a two- album deal. Her manager Craig Logan said the masters model “is really interesting, because it gives you more control and real transparency”. “The key point is that under our model the

interests of artist and ‘label’ are aligned,” explains SVP at BMG Chrysalis UK, Alexi Cory-Smith. “By giving the manager and artist complete

approval over the whole strategy and budget for the project, everyone is on the same side.


The new emergence of companies specialising in helping artists own their master rights is a threat to the traditional major label system – but it doesn’t preclude both parties from working together. Explains Fintage House co-CEO

Niels Teves: “Retaining the so- called master neighbouring rights does not prevent an artist from doing a deal with a major

record label - but most major labels will want to get these rights included in their deal. “We believe that an artist and

the manager should be surrounded by different centres of excellence, or boutiques if you will: one for marketing, one for promotion, one for distribution and one for the efficient collection of rights; both neighbouring rights and

publishing rights. “Top notch quality of all these disciplines are very difficult if not impossible to find within one and the same company.” “I don’t see this as a conscious

‘battle’ with the majors, but we definitely offer an alternative which creates competition. “If a conflict does arise it

just proves we’re doing something right.”

into a strategic business investment agreement with Rights Agency Limited (RAL) - widely acknowledged as the UK’s first ever neighbouring rights operation when founded by Damian Pulle in 1988. RAL now counts artists as high profile as Sir Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and Phil Collins amongst its clients. Explains Fintage’s Niels Teves:

“It is often very hard if not impossible for an artist to identify the master neighbouring rights royalties on a traditional label royalty statement. Our approach is radically different as rights collection is our core business, not something we do on the side.

ABOVE That kind of girl: Anastacia (above left) has committed to releasing two albums on a revenue share basis with BMG. Meanwhile, Fintage handles the neighbouring rights and publishing of artists such as Tori Amos (inset). Will we see these acts offer to share their master rights in future too?

“Our approach is radically different as rights collection is our core business, not something we do on the side” NIELS TEVES, FINTAGE HOUSE

“Interestingly, the splits for our

clients are distinctly more favourable than under a [label’s] distribution or licensing deal. We completely focus in on the collection of rights, maximise the revenue for the rights licensed, and report the revenue in crystal clear, detailed statements. A dedicated, focused approach is very advantageous to the owners of the rights.”

“When costs are completely transparent, there’s

a real incentive to ensure the budget is kept under tight control and of course there is a much greater upside when revenues begin to flow.” However, true validation of the masters model

will only come in future, when artists re-sign following a successful experience. It’s interesting to note that former detractors of the trad label system Placebo and Trent Reznor have both moved back into the world of majors in recent weeks, citing – amongst other reasons – the sheer work involved in coordinating their own releases. The likes of BMG, Kobalt and Fintage,

however, are in no doubt about the future potential of the model. Says Fintage’s Teves: “The [migration from

label deals to owning masters] will continue to happen, specifically for artists and labels who have followed the well-trodden, traditional paths and found them to be leading in the wrong direction. “There may also be new entrants that get

involved in owning or co-owning rights in future; parties like DSP’s or investment funds where the focus has been on music publishing rights, but is likely to include master or neighbouring rights.” Adds BMG’s Cory-Smith: “We believe this

trend will accelerate, and we are backing our belief with the investment, development and projected growth of our master team not just in the UK but worldwide.”

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