interviews

Tomorrow's World: Celebrating three decades of Tomorrow's Warriors

Thirty years ago, Janine Irons and Gary Crosby co-founded Tomorrow’s Warriors to offer free training and support to young musicians who want to break into jazz. Fresh from winning the Inspiration honour at this year’s MPG Awards, Music Week finds ...

Spotlight: PPL's Peter Leathem

PPL’s 2020 income was hit by the pandemic – down 17% to £225.7 million, although that was still the third highest result on record. Here, chief exec Peter Leathem looks at long-term international growth, livestream revenues and their diversity agenda... Radio’s shown its enduring appeal during Covid – is that good for PPL members? “Music’s an incredibly important part of commercial radio, it pays for using music, it’s providing a whole range of benefits. So having a vibrant commercial radio sector as well as a vibrant BBC radio is very important. We’ve had different formats trying to launch and more syndication – it’s all extra income. Commercial radio is rolling out brands like Heart and Capital around the country, and trying to make itself sustainable with greater competition from streaming services. And what they’ve done very well is monetise their listeners.”  PPL’s global income last year was still strong – how did you achieve that? “We’ve got an increasing global market, which is good. There are more countries coming online and getting rights, so that grows the pie. You’ve also got countries getting better at monetising their rights, and there’s a lot more data sharing, all of which helps [collective management organisations] become more efficient and accurate. And accuracy helps UK performers and record companies, because UK music is so popular around the world – more accuracy means more money coming back to the UK.”  And you also sign lots of acts for neighbouring rights, such as Rita Ora, George Ezra and Blossoms... “We are signing new artists on a monthly basis. They’re coming across from other competitors. We really only lose one or two key artists a year to someone else. Somewhere between a third and a half of all performer money moving around CMOs in the world comes to performers that we represent – it’s an enormous amount of money.” Is neighbouring rights revenue set to peak?  “The overall growth of that market is going to continue for some time to come. I’m not sure the number of entrants into the market is sustainable. You’ve got a lot of companies trying to diversify what they do, so everyone’s trying to have a go at neighbouring rights at the moment. I imagine there will be [further] consolidation in the future now that Kobalt [Neighbouring Rights] has been bought by Sony Music.” Can PPL secure income from livestreams?  “We’re currently speaking to the rights owners, because there are going to be rights that need to be licensed. We’re slightly different to PRS [for songwriters and publishers], as the record companies are quite often keen to do direct licensing. The more pressing issue has been the live side, hence PRS having to do livestream licensing ahead of us. But there is recorded music in livestreaming as well, such as DJ sets, so we do need to get that covered off.” What is PPL doing to drive diversity?  “It’s been the most important matter we’ve been handling over the last year, as well as trying to get through a pandemic. We’ve signed up to various pledges with the Black Music Coalition and UK Music. We recognised that we were not a diverse enough board, so since last summer we’ve had five new appointments. That’s an ongoing process. We’ve also been trying to support a whole range of industry organisations, such as Small Green Shoots, The Cat’s Mother, Girls I Rate, Cre8ing Vision and BAPAM.” Finally, how was your experience of the DCMS Committee inquiry into streaming?  “PPL represents the major companies, the indies, the featured artists, the music producers. So what could possibly go wrong by me going and speaking on such a touchy subject! Any public appearance is always quite nerve-racking because you need to recognise that your members have got different viewpoints. As someone who’s been around for a while, I was just trying to make some observations about the overall market and what help we could bring.”

Tok stars: Parlophone focuses on 'fan-first strategy' for campaigns

Parlophone’s newly-promoted head of marketing Anya Du Sauzay has spoken about the label’s ambitions to build on its run of viral TikTok hits. The Warner Music label has made an impact on the short-form video platform in the past year with S1mba, Masked Wolf, Ashnikko, Sam Ryder and Coldplay. Artists have been offered guidance on how to maximise results from social media campaigns. “It’s equally as important as all of the other functions the label is there to provide for an artist,” Du Sauzay told Music Week. “It’s something that we’ll continue to make sure we’re instilling in our artists, so that they have all the knowledge and the tools they need to be the best they can be on social media.”  Music Week can reveal that she has been promoted from her Parlophone role as head of audience & engagement. Du Sauzay moved from Syco in 2019. “Since joining Parlophone, Anya has played a major role in helping artists such as Ashnikko, S1mba and The Snuts reach new fans and establish themselves in the mainstream,” said Jack Melhuish, director of marketing, partnerships & strategy. “She has an incredible understanding of the digital landscape and the importance of the relationship between our artists and the fan community.” Du Sauzay said she wanted to further break down any remaining barriers between digital and marketing. “I definitely want to bring that fan-first strategy forward with me across all of the Parlophone campaigns,” she added. “That’s already part of the strategy for the label, so I just feel thankful that they’ve instilled the trust in me to keep moving that forward across all of our artist campaigns.” “Parlophone and our artists have been at the forefront of new and emerging platforms and trends in recent times and our success through TikTok is evidence of this,” said Melhuish. “With Anya as head of marketing, we’ll continue to have our finger on the pulse which will further help tell our artists’ stories in new and interesting ways.”  The label has had huge success with S1mba’s Rover, which has sales of 974,167 (Official Charts Company). The single blew up as a result of the #MulaChallenge trending in Australia and New Zealand. “It was very much about how we engaged the right creators that we knew had a foothold in Australia and New Zealand, but that also had a really engaged UK and European audience so that we knew their content would connect,” said Du Sauzay.  “It was also about the content that S1mba was creating and engaging with a lot of these creators, whether it was duet videos or replying in comments. As a result, we saw huge audience growth for him.” Rover has 105m views on the dance challenge hashtag and over 800,000 video creations. TikTok named S1mba as having the third most popular UK catalogue of 2020 after Dua Lipa and Harry Styles.  “He was a brand new, unknown artist, with no real footprint and no real engaged fanbase, but we managed to turn him into a real artist proposition off the back of that campaign.”  Australian rapper Masked Wolf’s Astronaut In The Ocean was Warner Music’s track with the most views (1.3 billion) and creations (14.6m) last month. It has spawned multiple remixes and mash-ups. “It’s about being really dynamic with those kinds of campaigns,” said Du Sauzay. “While it may look a bit complicated when you’ve got multiple versions of tracks, actually it’s a blessing because it gives you multiple avenues to explore with creativity.”  Parlophone is also developing singer-songwriter Sam Ryder, who has amassed 8.6m followers on TikTok with a series of covers. “There’s huge value in artists understanding and leaning into the platform,” said Du Sauzay. “We’re not relying on influencers making our tracks hits. We want our artists to become influencers in their own right.”  The label has also enjoyed multiple viral moments with rising star Ashnikko. Daisy (275,960 sales) became Ashnikko’s first global breakout hit thanks to a campaign in partnership with Beats, where fans were tasked with creating content on TikTok to feature in the music video. The hashtag amassed 10.6bn views and over four million fan entries. “Fans were creating their own remixes on TikTok – slowed down and mashed-up versions – and that’s what then started to really move the dial, because it became something that the fans could own,” said Du Sauzay. “She was really engaging with the content they were creating and the fact they were taking the song and making it their own.”  Du Sauzay also underlined the opportunities for catalogue and established acts on social media. “Social media, digital marketing, the use of Instagram lenses and all those new features are just as important for a heritage artist like Iron Maiden, where the visuals of a band like that are a big part of what defines them,” she added.  Coldplay’s current single Higher Power was previewed on TikTok and is approaching 200,000 creations and 100m views. “They’ve been having hits for 20 years-plus, but TikTok is a really central part of the strategy for the band,” said Du Sauzay. She also confirmed that the label is looking at options for acts on chat room app Clubhouse. “It marries together the beauty and scope of podcasting, with a more interactive social media element,” said Du Sauzay. “There have been some conversations as to what we can do with Coldplay – it’s definitely something we want to explore.”

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