The BMG roll-up of mid-sized publishing companies continues to create a void that others are rushing to fill. Enter Rich Stumpf, formerly of Imagem and before that Cherry Lane, and his newly launched Atlas Music Group.
Stumpf is not the first to perceive a void in the publishing marketplace. Others have also staked out the turf, including Reservoir Media, Songs Music Publishing and Reach Music Publishing, to name a few.
But Stumpf says that the dominance of the now three major music publishers and the roll-up by BMG has created a marketplace where many songwriters have lost the personal service supplied by smaller publishers. He says there is a lot of room for a high-service oriented publisher that can take advantage of today's technologies.
In order to achieve that goal, Stumpf says he has put together a group of similar-minded investors to finance the new company.
Some partners are industry players like a pair of Italian music publishers -- Sugar Music and CamJazz -- and Aronson Media Ventures, headed up by Theo Aronson, who produces music for advertising commercials. Others are financial players like Goldman Sachs managing director Michael Dawley; Virgo Investment Group, an opportunistic private investment firm, which has a majority stake; and Sword, Rowe & Company, a merchant bank that serves as financial advisor to the publishing firm as well as taking a minor stake in Atlas.
Stumps say that in addition to whatever expertise they bring to the table, all the investors are also "passionate about songs and get that without songs there are not other parts of the music industry."
So far signings include Toby Gadd, Daniel and the Lion, and Falls. But in addition to growing organically, Stumpf says Atlas is looking at buying catalogs and is looking at two deals currently.
"I want to build a diversified portfolio with catalog and new songwriters," Stumpf says. "To do this right, you need a certain amount of capital," estimating that have access to about $100 million in funds should do the trick.
Stumpf says he has put together a 10-person staff, hiring Jennifer Blakeman as a senior creative executive (formerly with Zomba and Jive) and Michael Petersen, a former GM of Kobalt in the U.S.
"We have married the best possible front office with the best possible back office operations," Stumpf says. "This results in true full service music publishing."