Swiss tech company Utopia Music continues its acquisition spree with the purchase of Proper Music Group, the UK’s leading physical distributor. Utopia said on Wednesday that it will use Proper as the catalyst for a new “Distribution Services” unit that’ll place an equal focus on digital and physical distribution and hopefully “supercharge” Utopia’s song economics and quicken royalty payouts for creators.
“This acquisition serves as a building block towards achieving a real Utopia,” said Roberto Neri, chief operating officer at Utopia Music. “It will allow us to ensure ‘Fair Pay for Every Play’, and be more efficient by offering better and faster financial services to creators, and servicing both major and independent labels.”
Utopia said its Proper-boosted distribution unit will offer label partners an expansive menu of services, including physical and digital distribution, manufacturing, digital retail marketing, analytics reporting and synchronization, among others. Going forward, Proper will continue on as “part of the Utopia family,” the companies said.
Proper’s retail clients include Rough Trade, HMV and various indie chains, as well as supermarkets like Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s. The company also handles “dropship fulfilment” — meaning it stocks and ships product directly to customers of a third party — for clients like Believe, Communion,The Orchard and Amazon, its biggest customer. It provides distribution services for 1000-plus indie labels and service companies.
This marks Utopia’s fifth acquisition since September, when it scooped up artificial intelligence startup Musimap to improve recordings’ metadata. A month later, the company acquired Lyric Financial, a Nashville-based provider of royalty-backed cash advances, and in December it added industry directory ROSTR and data-analytics firm ForTunes as the core of a new “Creator Services” division.
Utopia said it wants to minimize the carbon impact of its new physical distribution unit, and cites Proper’s active role in simplifying the supply chain via its dropship fulfillment services.
“I am immensely proud of what Proper has achieved since I started the original business in 1988, with the company thriving through the evolution of digital to become one of the UK’s leading distributors,” said Malcolm Mills, Proper Music Group’s founder and former Chairman. “It is entirely due to the quality of people employed in the company and I am grateful to them for their relentless dedication and commitment to providing the exemplary service that has made Proper unique in this field. Utopia has the perfect vision to take the company to exciting new heights and realise its potential on the global stage.”