Former Warner boss backs new music firm

  • @MrNickClark

The former boss of Warner Bros International Paul-René Albertini is backing an innovative new music company that will officially launch in the UK this week with its first talent showcase. Claiming its model is designed to "fill some of the gaps" left by traditional record labels, My Major Company (MMC) was set up at the end of October and this Wednesday will launch its first 10 artists in London.

Unusually, the label funds its acts through investments over the internet from fans and those who fancy themselves as prospective music moguls.

MMC was first set up in France in 2008, by three entrepreneurial A&R men from major record labels. One of the founders Michael Goldman, said there were "more and more talented new artists looking for a recording deal and less record labels inclined to take the risk of investing".

The group has scored several successes in France. Grégoire, for instance, has sold more than a million albums, hitting the top of the charts. MMC France now has 28 fully funded acts and 98,500 registered users.

MMC brought in Mr Albertini, the former chairman and chief executive of Warner Music International, to oversee its international expansion. He said: "This is a very good alternative to fill the gap left by the traditional model."

Mr Albertini continued: "There won't be a black or white solution for the future of the music business, but the landscape is changing. Live music is leading the charge. The recording side will be re-evaluated."

He added: "We are trying to break the mould with economics that still work. This model can sustain itself. It is based on collective risk-taking."

MMC signs acts through traditional A&R processes, puts samples of their music online and promotes the acts to attract the £100,000 needed to start full recording. "We select those that already have songs and that we believe have the potential and will be able to perform live. It has to be their own music, not just one song," Mr Albertini said.

The investors can decide to put in as little as £10, with payments capped at £1,000. In the UK, the group's first successful fundraising was rock act Ivyrise, who secured the money needed in four days. The band are currently in the studio recording tracks for their debut release. Mr Albertini said: "We have been in beta, and had a good reaction."

MMC currently has seven people in the UK. "The A&R guys are central," he said. "They know their market; they have their own filters and networks for finding unsigned artists."

For MMC, after the artists are fully funded and start making money, the revenues are split 20 per cent for the artist, 40 per cent for the investors and 40 per cent to the label.

Mr Albertini said MMC was different from other so-called "crowd-sourcing" projects where fans fund artists over the internet. "Crowd-funding is available on other websites, but they don't give the support we do," he said. Crowd-sourcing has been used to fund everything from the creation of smartphone applications to a football team.

The UK business, which is based in Notting Hill, is the first international branch, and it will be followed by operations in Germany, Italy, Spain and Scandinavia.

"Life today in the music industry is about participation," Mr Albertini said. "The internet is not going to go away."