Midem puts the spotlight on Wagram Stories with an Exclusive Q&A with Stephan Bourdoiseau, its founder & president, during the Global Indie Voices on 6 June PM as part of the 2019 Midem conference programme.
Wagram will also bring exclusively at Midem the iconic band Inna de Yard for the world premiere of the documentary on the Jamaican band and the first concert of their European Tour on the Midem Beach on 6 June evening.
Discover the interview of Stephan Bourdoiseau and find out more about one of this new business model for music companies with the new label Wagram Stories.
> Why is Wagram dropping “Music” from its name?
We are not dropping “Music” from our name! We are just adding new activities (film, series, live, book) around music to create something we feel is bigger in possibility and potential. It is based on the idea that there is more than music in music. There are stories. A lot of stories. Stories about artists, stories about music, stories about what music can say and make you feel. And stories can be told in different ways: by moving into movie and audiovisual production, music production and publishing, live shows and book publishing, we want to offer a unique development perspective to our artists.
We created Wagram Stories to encompass this vision: an artistic production company, with an editorial line strongly focused on music.
Within Wagram Stories, there will be Wagram Films, Wagram Livres (books), Wagram Spectacles (Live), Wagram Music and Wagram Publishing. Music remains at the core of our identity.
We have so far been involved in the production of three movies. The first one is a kind of biopic of the band of one of our most important rap artist: Orelsan. The budget for the movie was around 2M euros. Because the artist already had a strong community, 100,000 people went to see the movie the first week. And 300,000 in total in a few weeks. What is interesting there, is that a lot of people who did not know the artist but who like to go to the cinema went to see the movie because they were interested in the story. And then, because they discovered the artist and the music in the movie, they bought the album (or streamed it) and went to see the band on stage. We sold 150,000 copies of the soundtrack and the tour was a big success. But what was even more interesting is that the next album of Orelsan sold 800,000 units (and it is still selling and will be reaching 1 million by the end of the year).
The second film was a kind of Buena Vista Social Club but for Jamaican Reggae called Inna de Yard, and directed by Peter Webber. We are launching the album in April this year, the movie between June and August in most of the markets, and there will be a first European tour in June/July. This is the kind of global project we are interested in.
The third film is a Netflix original and is in production right now. It is a bit too soon reveal anymore, but it will likely be released worlwide by the end of the year.
> As the music industry recovers from a tough decade, why is now the right time to do this?
The music industry is recovering and this is good news, and means there is even more possibility. The market will continue growing for several years.
Everybody should be investing. But the model has changed a lot, so the next question is where should one be investing. And the answer depends very much on where you want to position yourself in terms of added value.
Artists have had easy access to production for a long time. Artists are now building their own communities through social media. And they can have worldwide digital sales and distribution in a click for a few dollars. So what does a music company today add to an artist and their music? And what does it mean in terms of margin or profit sharing? Our answer to this change is to position ourselves where we feel we can create as much value as possible. And that will be on the production side, and not necessarily the recorded music, but rather everything that can be added to music that creates an interesting and strong story.
Another important change is that the whole world is a playing field for labels, no matter their size. And many partners have become global
(even though content remains « glocal » – global and local), especially platforms and social media. This is why we are accelarating our international presence and why we have just opened an office in Los Angeles and one in Berlin, our main office being in Paris with a hundred people working there. Platforms also tend to consolidate their offers and might soon propose music and movie and series subscriptions. And why not in the future books, news and educational content.
We want to offer all different content for all platforms, subscription or offers, all with a strong story with music at its core.
> Would you encourage other music companies to do the same?
It depends on how they feel they can create value, and how excited they are about their possibilities. There are plenty of other ways to operate in this new music business. You can, for example, position yourself as an aggregator. Or try to become a major company (why not!). Or focus on a special genre. But you can also do what we do. There is room for everyone. We are extremely excited to collaborate with artists on film development, events, recording sessions. It creates, a unique experience for the artist and their team. There is an incredible excitement when all departments work together to develop a project. It gives a larger scale to our day to day operations. It is also very exciting for all our partners because they see all the possibilities for a project for which the success does not only rely on one leg. Of course you have to be good at what you do for any of these different activities. But you can always work with external partners. This is very challenging.
> How does being an independent company facilitate the emergence of new business models with a global ambition?
An independent entrepreneur can take the decision they want (as soon as they have the means). They assess the risk themselves, don’t have a managerial hierarchy or a group strategy that they have to follow. Independent companies are more flexible, very quick in taking decisions and implementing them. We go where we want to go. Of course, you need a certain position to develop an ambition like the one of Wagram Stories. And we have it. We are a 35m$ business of a 120 people, and we have always been profitable since our first year in 1998, with a very strong balance sheet. We are completely independent. I have a strong majority stake (57%) in the company and the rest is owned by the management team, which makes Wagram a very stable company. But even smaller independents have always been very good at developping projects on a global scale, knitting close networks of partners everywhere. The “niche” market, specialized genres of music, have long been globalized.
> The music industry has always been at the forefront of innovation and disruption: what key skills and services can music companies offer to sectors beyond music?
Innovation and disruption have always been there in the music industry but mainly because of very talented people from outside music companies.
Music companies are mainly good at producing and developing artists and good music, and making sure the rights are well protected and managed for their artists and for themselves.
When hit by an innovation, the key question is how is this going to affect my business, on what time frame, with what upside or downside. I think it is the same for the movie or the book business, in their own field, or any other digital content type of business : information, educational content, etc.
> Why did you choose Midem for this announcement and what are your objectives at this year’s edition?
Midem is the perfect place to speak about Wagram Stories and to launch the Inna de Yard Jamaican reggae project. We will be presenting this project, both a very touching movie, and an exceptional energy on stage, to the industry and to the press. There will be a premiere for the movie in the Palais des Festivals and a concert on 6 June around midnight on the Midem Beach. It will be an amazing moment. Jamaican Reggae has just been listed as Unesco World Heritage!
It is an example of what we want to do with Wagram Stories. We are developing our activities on different markets, and we opened an office in Los Angeles and Berlin. So of course, we are looking for partnerships, for the best professionals in their field, for exciting projects and artists.
Interested in attending Inna De Yard’s world movie premiere? The event is by invitation only. Please register by sending an email to: email@example.com & the Wagram team will confirm if there are remaining seats.
Find out more about the Global Indie Voices programme here