Publishers Target Versatile Music Catalogs

Music publishers are increasingly looking for catalogs that have the potential to be exploited in other areas of entertainment, such as film and TV synchronization rights, commercials and ring tones.

AUSTIN, TEXAS--Music publishers are increasingly looking for catalogs that have the potential to be exploited in other areas of entertainment, such as film and TV synchronization rights, commercials and ring tones.

That was a consensus of speakers March 19 at a panel discussion at the South By Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas.

"Most of the major [publishing] players have pulled back substantially," said Ed Pierson, executive VP/general counsel at Warner-Chappell Music.

Many companies are now offering five-figure (instead of six-figure) development advances, said Pierson, who spoke on a CLE-accredited panel called "Signing and developing Artists in a Declining Economy."

Julian Raymond, VP of A&R and staff producer at Capitol Records, said his label is looking for acts with "a solid base as far as touring and indie record sales."

He noted that many artists these days are wisely marketing themselves via Web sites directed at fans. "You have to," he stressed. The days of unsolicited tapes getting an airing at major labels are long over, Raymond said.

Panelists noted that the megabuck deals of the past aren't available anymore.

"In the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel, we spent $5 million," Warner-Chappell's Pierson said. "You look that [those deals of the past] and think, 'What the fuck were we thinking?'"

Meanwhile, David Lessoff , director of business affairs at Capitol Records, said his group was increasingly turning to six-to-12-month development deals, under which a band tours and records under a provisional aegis.

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