Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Goodbye record labels, hello branding agents

The music industry continues to invent new business models. The latest group to attempt to replace the traditional record label are Harvest Entertainment, a collection of high-powered media players who aim to be the middlemen between bands and brands. There’s …

Fri, Nov 23, 2007, 09:38

   

The music industry continues to invent new business models. The latest group to attempt to replace the traditional record label are Harvest Entertainment, a collection of high-powered media players who aim to be the middlemen between bands and brands.

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There’s nothing new about bands getting into bed with brands. Be it U2′s love-in with Apple and the iPod (right), Paddy Casey’s endorsement of a mobile phone, or a multitude of bands playing under the banner of various drinks companies, acts have always welcomed the cash or promotional lift afforded by the corporate sector.

But Harvest intends to take this relationship to a new level, by working with artists to market, release and exploit their music without the necessity of a record label or giving up their copyright.

In Harvest’s world, artists will form partnerships with brands that will fund recording, production, marketing, promotion and the release of an album without the need for a label. As sales are no longer the key concern, music can then be distributed in any way possible, at any price, even given away free, or offered as part of any number of deals.

Harvest is headed by Ric Salmon, a former A&R executive at Warner Music.

“There’s hardly an artist who doesn’t have a sponsorship deal for their tour,” Salmon said in an interview with music industry publication Record of the Day. “There’s product placement in videos, endorsement deals. I don’t think there are many artists who feel uncomfortable with it. Certainly, the artists we’re talking to haven’t batted an eyelid. In fact, they are very excited about the possibiity of partnering with a brand.”

Salmon wouldn’t disclose the names of potential Harvest acts, though he said the company will be working with “elite” artists. These are acts who’ve already established an audience and a profile thanks to many years and releases with a major label, and therefore no longer require the clout of a label’s marketing and promotional machine.

In common with most new business models in circulation, however, there’s little in the Harvest approach for bands on the lower rungs of the music industry ladder.