The current Cooking Vinyl homege features Marilyn Manson whose new album "Born Villain" is just out. Label founder Martin Goldschmidt says Interscope "dropped the ball" with his last album.
Cooking Vinyl, a label founded in 1986 originally specializing in folk music, has grown to become of Europe's leading independents. In 2009, the London-based imprint partnered with Ingenious Media Investments to release the Prodigy's fifth studio album "Invaders Must Die." The album went on to sell 1.2 million units worldwide, according to Cooking Vinyl, becoming 2009's biggest-selling independent record in Europe.
Cooking Vinyl's releases in 2012 include the Cranberries comeback album "Roses" (with Downtown Records) and the U.K./European release of Counting Crows' "Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation)." Other artists signed to the label include Billy Bragg, Underworld, Groove Armada and Suzanne Vega.
In May 2011, Cooking Vinyl Group, which also includes its sister company Essential Music & Marketing, secured a multi-million dollar funding deal with U.K. venture-capital company Icebreaker, to finance future projects.
This week sees the release of Marilyn Manson's "Born Villain" (a joint venture partnership between Cooking Vinyl and Manson's own imprint Hell Inc.), the artist's eighth studio album and his first record since leaving Interscope. The Cult, another of the label's latest marquee signings, releases its new album "Choice of Weapon" May 21.
Speaking exclusively to Billboard.biz, Cooking Vinyl founder/managing director Martin Goldschmidt discussed why 2012 is a good time to be an independent label, the perils of the Universal-EMI acquisition and how he Interscope "dropped the ball" with Marilyn Manson's last album.
Billboard.biz: What is the key to attracting big name artists like the Cranberries, Prodigy and Marilyn Manson to a U.K. indie like Cooking Vinyl?
Martin Goldschmidt: The Prodigy certainly put a lot of wind in our sails. That was a bit of a game changer. To deliver the biggest record in the U.K. and Europe showed people that we can do it at the highest level. That has given people a lot more people confidence in us and opened a lot of doors... [But] the key to it is actually delivering. I don't think the record deal is so important these days. The power has shifted and a lot of what we do is put the record out so that they can earn a fortune from touring.
Independents such as Cooking Vinyl, Glassnote and XL Recordings, to name a few, have enjoyed strong commercial success in recent years. What's been at the heart of your success?
I really don't know. We're doing what we have always done... Maybe our time has come. The bit of the market that we're in [alternative, indie and rock] hasn't been hit as badly as the bit that the majors are in. What [Cooking Vinyl] doesn't cover is the real top end of the market, high-risk "X-Factor"-type pop, and that's been hit quite hard. Adele [signed to XL Recordings in the U.K.] has proved you can still sell records. It's weird times. Things seem to be going better for indies these days than the majors. It's a great time to be an indie.
How did the Marilyn Manson deal come about?
I just got in touch with his manager [Tony Ciulla] and hounded him, really. That's what I do. It wasn't that hard, but the manger knows what he wants and tends to get it. He's a brilliant manager. Why did Manson sign with us? I don't know. I don't know why we got the Prodigy. Every major wanted the Prodigy. They could have got a better deal. But I think that they felt this would be a really good home for them and the same with Manson.
What are your targets for "Born Villain"?
It's shaping up amazingly. I think we'll do in the first week what the last one did in the life of the record... It's [down to] a number of things. One, Interscope dropped the ball on the last record, without any shadow of a doubt. Secondly, Manson has delivered the best record that he's done for many, many years. And thirdly, we had all these exclusives lined up for the single ["No Reflection"] around the world and then Manson leaked it to KROQ and blew them all. That turned out to be a stroke of genius by the bastard. We're already getting more radio play than the whole of the last record. It was a masterstroke by maverick Manson.
Didn't the leak cause lots of problems with the other platforms that you exclusives arranged with?
Of course, but we've learnt from it. We now do record company exclusives and management exclusives and we only guarantee the record company ones. Manson's the last great rock star. He's does his own thing and it leaves a trail of chaos in his wake.
2009 was Cooking Vinyl Group's most successful year ever, generating over £10 million [$16.2 millon] in revenue. What are the company's financial targets for 2012?
I think we're going to do over £10 million again. The Manson record is going to be significant [towards that] but there will be quite a few records making it up, not just the Prodigy [as in 2009].
Any updates on when we are likely to see a new Prodigy album?
When Liam [Howlett] says so. Liam doesn't let anything go until he is happy with it. He has very high quality control. But hopefully next year we'll see something.
There's been much talk about the impact of the proposed Universal-EMI merger on the independent sector. What's your take?
It's as obvious as the nose on anyone's face: they're doing it to get market share. It's not about profit. It's about market power and leverage, and then the profit will come because they close everyone else out. Is that anti-competitive? If it isn't, I don't know what is. You don't get market power and not use it because you're nice. No one does that and stays in business, and Lucian Grainge is a good businessman. He's tough. So if he gets market power - is he going to use it? I think he might.
And if that happens?
They will leverage and they will use their market power to shut us out where they can. So it's a real changing time. Nobody knows what this industry is going to look like in five years time. I think that's one of the reasons why independents are doing well. The whole online situation is not something that majors understood and it created lot of opportunities for indies. It's really leveled the playing field. But they're trying to close it up... They hate the situation where there is no shop front that they can control, and they are trying to build that into the online world through market power.