Music Industry stalwart Richard Kirstein had a background in music performance with single releases, UK tours, TV appearances, Radio 1 air play before stepping into the world of music rights and licensing.
Richard works with some of the biggest brands in the world from fashion, drinks and automotive industries helping them to license music for their campaigns.
Richard came into my @BIMMBristol lecture via the power of Skype video this week and allowed me and my students to grill him. Life for Richard is very hectic and we only knew at the last moment that we could secure this interview due to his busy work schedule – business in this field is booming you could say.
Richard is the founding partner at Resilient Music LLP a leading music rights company which acts for brands who want to procure music for their broadcast and digital audiences.
In this context, Richard acts for the music licensee which – added to his experience as a performer, composer and band manager – gives him a great perspective on the music industry and where it is now.
We really wanted to pick his brains about how the changing digital landscape was creating opportunities for artists/bands and their managers. This might also give my students a clue as to what sort of jobs could await them after their BIMM college journey.
Is the changing digital landscape giving brands and music industry a happy ever after?
“Digital platforms are as powerful for brands (arguably more powerful) than broadcast TV in the view of major music rights owners” Richard told us.
“Brands are really savvy about the opportunity this gives them to reach their audience, they also have a good idea of the music and artist that aligns with their values”. He said.
For artists and bands this can be lucrative and an essential “revenue stream”. So a win situation? But what about the new artist and band? Is this digital revenue model accessible?
“It is difficult for the breakthrough act and you wouldn’t have as much leverage as an established chart artist, but still you have to weigh up the exposure it can give you as a new artist or band”.
So how would a new artist or band get into the world of licensing their music over digital platforms working with brands?
Richard told us: “Do your research with the brands and the ad agencies and step into the shoes of the brand and think ‘why would they pick me and use my music?’ Is it the right fit, the right platform and the right exposure for the brand to want to work with you?”
“Brands have a creative objective and need to engage consumers – music is part of that”, he added. “Getting to know the ad agencies involved is also a useful thing to do.”
For artists and bands it may be an important and essential means of sustaining what they do. Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive PRS for Music, interviewed last year reinforces this point:
“Innovative companies understand the power of a good song and how a memorable music experience inspires and connects with fans. Historically, sport was where big brands put their money, but the last 12 months have demonstrated the unique power of music to convey brand value and how the right partnership can benefit music lover, songwriter and business alike.”
And this is reflected when you consider brands such as Coca Cola, O2, Blackberry and Volkswagen spent a record £100m on music for their marketing in 2012.
Breaking into music licensing
I was interested to learn that Richard was also a musician and performer and wondered what advice he could give the students about a career in music licensing following in his footsteps – after all, my remit at BIMM is to prepare students for the move into industry.
“I can’t lie, it’s difficult to get into this and you usually have to be based in London and work from the ground up as an intern.”
“There are few jobs and these are always oversubscribed – Internships generally aren’t advertised so you need to search out opportunities yourself”, Richard added “I didn’t have the opportunity to learn how the music industry worked within my music degree, so I learned what I know along the way within the music publishing and advertising industries”
In a resulting discussion around this area, Richard agreed with me that this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other routes in for the savvy regional music entrepreneur who may create their own online presence and build up an audience with strategic partners and a sound business model. However, Richard stressed “I have to be honest and point out virtually all my income originates from London.”
And the parting advice Richard gave us:
“I’m sure BIMM Bristol subscribes to Music Week, but I suggest that Campaign, Marketing and Marketing Week are also required reading.”
You can connect with Richard: http://www.linkedin.com/in/richardkirstein.