“In the 70s, record labels were management companies. Now, management companies and artists are turning into labels,” says Horst Weidenmuller , CEO of Berlin-based independent label group !K7 and board member of Impala and Merlin. “What’s not changing is the need for the structure and expertise” that labels bring, he adds: namely the knowledge of “the markets you work in, the payers, the people you want to engage to reach your goals… and that’s expertise an artist doesn’t normally have.”
So rather than “who needs labels?” Weidenmuller suggests the real question is “who is doing the investment?”, as that is the person who owns the rights. This begs the further question of what degree of freedom labels should allow their artists. “Before, artists just had to show up to press events and not be stoned,” jokes Weidenmuller. “Now, they are completely in control of their career. And that’s where conflicts can come, since the artist wants to be sure investments are going the same way as his ideas…”
We also discussed the sort of deals !K7 now offers its artists; and how labels can best prepare for disruption.
More at Midem 2014! Weidenmuller speaks at the “Visionary Talks” session February 2 (18.15), with William Morris Endeavor’s Marc Geiger. More about Midem conferences here.