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25 août 2007

Peter Gabriel Finds A Way to Avoid Record Companies: Go Where the Money Is

A boutique investment firm in London has found an unlikely new business idea: releasing comeback albums for artists that major labels may not longer be lusting after. Today’s Wall Street Journal profiles venture capitalists Ingenious Media PLC, which has so far invested between $400,000 and $2 million per album to finance fifteen records by acts like UB40, the Prodigy and Peter Gabriel (who invested his own money in the fund).

The arrangement works like this: Once Ingenious gets tipped off to artists who are label-less but looking to release music, the firm ponies up for production, marketing and distribution costs. Profits from each record cover Ingenious’ investment. If the record makes money beyond that, the bounty is shared by the firm and the artist. So it’s just like a record label! Almost …

Ingenious specializes in “heritage” artists (rockers over forty) who may no longer flourish in the major labels’ record, promote, repeat mode. So instead, Ingenious sells bands directly to the people who will support them: longtime fans. From the bands’ perspective, Ingenious is like the least pushy label on earth — they don’t show up at the studio or weigh in on the single, and in an era of record-industry decline where everyone from Madonna to Joni Mitchell is searching for alternative ways to get their music out, these financiers could potentially work their way up to the level of a Starbucks or Live Nation.

Elizabeth Goodman

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