What did you wake up thinking about this morning? It’s pretty consistent: We have businesses in a lot of different time zones, including Australia, Los Angeles, London, Toronto and New York, and the first order of business is to check email and make sure nothing requires my immediate attention. It helps me get my day sorted out, and usually my first focus is London. Since we’re a publicly traded company on the London Stock Exchange, with revenue nearing $1 billion annually, we’ve been trying to complete a reorganization that’ll elevate us from a standard list of stocks to a premium list, the FTSE 100 Index, which will allow more liquidity for our investors and hopefully a higher share price.
Describe a lesson learned from failure. The biggest lesson I learned is “Don’t do them again.” I made plenty of mistakes when I had a record store chain in choosing the wrong location. That business taught me to pay attention [to whether] your finances are in order. In 2001, I and some other investors put a couple of million dollars into a digital download site. We were too early and way ahead of the market. If, instead of being pioneers, we would have waited five or seven years, we would have had a better chance. From that lesson you learn you need to be contemplative and understand the consumer better-when you only pay attention to the media and the general buzz around a platform, that sometimes makes companies take risks that they maybe shouldn’t. It is the consumer that decides what makes sense.
What will define your career in the coming year? Entertainment One produces film, television and family programming globally and also has a record label and independent distribution company in North America. So our goal is to fully integrate and build more bridges between the verticals. Our content business has revenue of nearly $700 million, including about $30 million from our record label, with the rest in film, TV shows and family offerings. Our distribution business is about $300 million, with most of that in DVD and about $80 million in music, including the label. But digital is becoming a bigger part of the music label; it’s now 70% of revenue. Music is an integral part of our plans, and we plan on increasing our investment in music. In the past year we acquired the Death Row catalog and released 75 new albums. Beyond that, we want to manage the music rights in all of our films and family projects, and we have a number of people that fit between film, family and music to make sure that is happening on a daily basis.
Name a project you’re not affiliated with that has most impressed you in the past year. What I find really interesting is seeing an album like Jay Z’s sell a million units before it’s even out. It’s pretty cool to see the integration between social media and entertainment building an ever-changing landscape that allows us to market directly to the consumer and helps us to produce and deliver content like we never did before.
Name a desert island album. Black Sabbath, the first or second album. I am into metal.