Chris Murphy, the enigmatic entrepreneur who guided the propulsion of INXS into stadiums and the top tier of sales charts, has established a new company — Murphy Rights Management (MRM).
The new Sydney-based rights management firm launches with an exclusive worldwide publishing administration agreement through Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG), and a first signing in Australian rock band Lepers and Crooks.
As part of the new initiatives with UMPG, MRM will secure both publishing and master recording rights for artists whose publishing they handle. This “will allow for the super-servicing of clients and partners, enhanced speed to market, and greater flexibility and creativity in crafting deals,” according to a statement, and its strategies will be tailored to explore opportunities in social media, movies, television, theater, fashion and gaming.
“I looked at the industry and tried to work out where I could be a benefit, and do something [in an] area have I found frustrating to deal with,” Murphy exclusively tells Billboard.biz. “People on the other side of the fence find it can be extraordinarily frustrating when they’re trying to get a sync approved and you have [to deal with] the publisher and the master [copyrights]. We decided to put our time, energy and money into helping people manage their rights — the area I find most neglected in the industry.”
Murphy’s team teased the launch back in April with a cryptic message: “Can Australia see another INXS on the world stage again?” CM Murphy believes so, and is prepared to put his money where his mouth is…. again.”
The new deal provides global support for MRM, and is an expansion of a relationship between Murphy and Universal Music Publishing which entered a new phase last year with the signing of a global agreement with the surviving INXS members for the band’s core catalog of music (Murphy serves with INXS in the capacity as creative director and global strategist). On new signings to MRM, Murphy says he only wants “to work with exceptional talent, and I want to make sure that we can put our efforts together to get a result for the artist.”
Joining Murphy at MRM as CEO is former head of business affairs at EMI Music Australia Louis Calleja, and director of business development Paul Paoliello, the South African-born veteran label exec whose resume includes a stint as managing director of Zomba/Jive Asia Pacific regional operation.
“Firstly I want to get all the basics right for the company, I want to put together a solid team. It’s not a one-man show, but I want this to be a company that lasts a long time. I want it last beyond me,” Murphy explains.
It’s already been a big year for Murphy. He was the subject of a biographical book and he spearheaded the mini-series “Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story of INXS,” a ratings juggernaut which launched the new wave group back to the top of the ARIA albums chart. As of June, INXS is the best-selling band Down Under for the year 2014.
“Chris Murphy is a true force of nature, whose passion and commitment to his artists and their music are second to none,” comments Zach Horowitz, chairman/CEO of UMPG, in a statement. “He’s never been afraid to break the mold — all the more important in today’s ever-changing marketplace where developing artists require fresh approaches and cutting edge creative solutions. We couldn’t be more excited to be in business with him and his team.”
The admiration goes both ways. “I have so much respect for him,” Murphy says of Horowitz. “And so much respect that he’s been in the business for so long and he hasn’t lost any of his credibility, his character, his ability to be loyal. I’m not the easiest character in the world to get on with and he just puts up with me all the time. I just love the man and I’ve got to know [Universal Music Group chairman/CEO] Lucian Grainge. You think Universal is a big ugly company, but inside it’s got a lot of lovely people.”
Murphy has also enjoyed success with his publishing company MMA Music and the compilation brand Petrol Records, which launched in 2004. Murphy has big plans for his new venture. “The end model of our business is to get ourselves right across the southern hemisphere,” he explains. “The second phase I want us to become the premium publishing rights management business in the southern hemisphere. That’s the end goal, to get into markets where we can help to make a difference but at the moment are problems.”