Notting Hill Music, the music publishing company co-founded in London by Andy McQueen and Dave Loader nearly 25 years ago, is launching NHMM, a new music label and management division which will operate under Ken Komisar out of Los Angeles. The label’s first releases are singles by Brown & Gray (“Top Down”) Juic3box featuring Alice France (“True Love”) and Phr33Lnch’s “Whiplash.”
With some 350 top 40 hits and 120 writers, McQueen says Notting HIll’s decision to move in the new direction was something of a natural evolution. “The label and management thing came about because we have access to a huge talent pool,’ he says. “Most of the writers are either producers or singers or something of that ilk and are of a very high standard.”
Additionally, market conditions are such now that the pivot from publisher to label is perhaps more doable now than ever. “In this streaming age, the song is paramount,” McQueen said, “because you can have a big song on Spotify or Apple Music now without it necessary being a big artist at the beginning—basically if something is good enough it tends to find its way through.”
The company then simply put out an open call out to its writers. McQueen says the records they got back were “astonishing” and include the three initial releases.
Helping NHMM’s new singles to find through “way through” is Komisar who worked at Sony for 16 years between Epic, Columbia and Michael Jackson’s MMR label where he touched projects ranging from “Jennifer Lopez to Ricky Martin to Marc Anthony.” Komisar also worked with Justin Timberlake for five years on his Tennman Records where he was president and oversaw artists development.
Working on management for Notting Hill for the past year, Komisar sees the new label as “an opportunity to network the creative process with access to superstar producers and songwriters and the marriage of the two universes allowing for [NHMM] to become a launch pad.”
It should be noted that McQueen and Komisar met, like any great relationship, through The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. More precisely through an artist named Tatyana Ali who appeared on the show and who signed to MJJ while Notting Hill had Will Smith’s publishing.
Notting Hill, according to McQueen, now has some 30,000 titles (which include tracks by everyone from Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan to the Buzzcocks and Monster Magnet), a dozen employees around the world between London, L.A. and Nashville as well as studios in both London and L.A.. The company uses Kobalt Label Services for its distribution.
The publishing company is also improving its backend system “Behind the scenes the whole NHM Group are building a robust royalty tracking system to face the growing challenge of securing missing royalty flow, particularly from the online services,” Notting HIll’s Loader tells Billboard. “It’s well overdue to get your acts together ‘Streaming providers’ (and I simply can’t miss this opportunity to lobby for the long overdue return of songwriting/composer credits!)”
Among some of Notting HIll’s biggest hits are The Pussycat Dolls’ “Don Cha,” DMX’s X Gonna Give It to You” (which had a comeback with the film Cradle to the Grave), Kygo’s “Stole the Show” (“500 million streams on Spotify”) and Little Mix’s “Touch” (“a top five record around the world apart from the States”).
McQueen says that Notting HIll’s strategy to releasing music has changed in recent times. “It’s kind of the opposite of how it used to be,” he says. “You used to go to radio and then release the song four weeks later; what we’re doing now is releasing to streaming and then going to radio a few weeks later when we’ve built the story up a bit in terms of club [promotion], streaming and press and whatever else.”
The music company chairman also notes the ability in today’s music market to change strategy on a dime as is the case with the label’s first release “True Love” by Juic3box featuring Alice France. “We are going heavy on Holland, the UK and France,” McQueen says “but then it just got onto the viral charts in Canada a few minutes ago so we may have to rethink that plan. Having Ken’s experience, my first question this morning over coffee at 8:00 a.m. was, ‘Who does radio in Canada?'”