Carl Barat dances to venture capitalists' tune
Ex-Libertines frontman joins growing number of artists hoping to bypass record labels
Monday 28 February 2011
"That was like performing on Dragon's Den," says Carl Barat after perhaps the strangest gig that the Libertines frontman has ever played.
He has just entertained an elite crowd of 20 venture capitalists in a swanky Soho hotel, who are considering whether to invest their hard-won millions in him. The singer performed after the "dragons" had listened to a presentation by the chairman of Power Amp, an investment firm specialising in the music industry, which is offering a tax-efficient opportunity to back a select number of established artists.
With CD sales continuing to decline and record companies no longer willing to shower musicians with multi-million pound deals, artists are having to seek innovative ways of funding their careers – even if that means placing their punk rock credibility on the line to impress private equity experts and institutional investors.
Barat, who previously recorded for EMI and Universal Music, has signed a £500,000 "multi-revenue stream" agreement with Power Amp. The deal helped fund the recording of his first solo album and the two parties share in "income opportunities" ranging from recording, publishing and touring to merchandise and sponsorship.
Power Amp staged the Barat event in a bid to raise a further £10m from wealthy figures who retain a taste for rock music.
A similar deal with Madness achieved a return on investment of nearly 30 per cent, with the band's net live income rising by more than a third. Barat peformed a song from his solo album and a Libertines track. "I hope you understood that presentation as much as we did," he joked. The "dragons" however, immediately raised the spectre of his absent co-Libertine, Pete Doherty.
Would the investment cover the return of the Libertines too, asked one. "It includes a meaningful amount from Libertines gigs," said Tom Bywater, Power Amp's chief executive.
Barat told The Independent: "This is all about being independent. I get to have my own record label and decide what to spend on marketing and I retain the intellectual property. If you're signed to a major label and Britney's record comes out the same week, then yours goes down the gurgler."
But has he grasped the new rock language of 20 per cent income tax relief and mid-term exit proceeds? "I understand the basic concept and it's the best deal I ever had. Having investors does perk you up a bit in the studio. You don't want to mess it up."
However, as the Power Amp brochure also warns, artist investments "are not guaranteed to succeed". A £2m deal with Charlotte Church was abandoned after the singer's comeback album Back To Scratch flopped last year.
Barat, who hopes to record a new album with Doherty, claims "the ice is cracking in the music world". "There's no need to sign to a major label," he says. "You have to be your own king of the castle. You can't only be the Duke of the Duchy. You've got to own the whole Duchy."
Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Astrological signs are almost all wrong, as movement of moon and sun throws out zodiac
- 2 Dad eats daughter's weed brownies, thinks he's had a stroke
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Jeremy Clarkson to host BBC's Have I Got News For You despite Top Gear exit
James Bond Spectre trailer drops on YouTube
Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
A historian gave the most British look of despair when someone screwed up Richard III's birthday at his reburial
Kay Burley 'bias' against Ed Miliband prompts 130 complaints to Ofcom
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'