Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Night at the Opera

Everyone has seen the shift of music artists’ earnings focus from recordings to concerts and merchandising. As George Martin once said way back in the sixties, ‘the album is the menu, the concert is the meal.’ We have see huge defections away from the record companies by artists wanting to align to where they see the money.

Now we read that Universal Classics and Jazz, the worldwide market leader in classical CD sales, has announced Universal Music Classical Artists Management and Productions. Universal dominate the classical music industry with 29% of the recording market with its nearest competitor Sony BMG, having only a 14% share. The new company will provide management services for and produce live events for prominent classical musicians. Artists who have signed up include Anna Netrebko, Elina Garanca, Karita Mattila, Joseph Calleja and Thomas Hampson.

The new division will book tours and produce live events for its clients, not all of whom will be exclusive Universal recording artists. It is an obvious step by Universal to protect its classic business but is likely to prove too late for the pop and rock world who have already started to vote with their feet. All media producers now need to re-examine their role and relationship with their greatest assets –their creators. Books may be different but the questions still need to be asked.

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