In a bid to diversify, UMG's newly formed Twenty First Republic will represent the likes of Atticus Ross and George Drakoulias among other producers, composers, mixers and engineers.
Universal Republic is stepping into the field of producer representation by partnering Twenty First Artists, which UMG acquired in 2007, with Worlds End Management. Effective immediately, the newly formed company will be known as Twenty First Republic. Worlds End’s stable of producers, mixers and engineers include George Drakoulias (Black Crowes, Tom Petty, The Runaways soundtrack), Peter Katis (The National), Gonzales (Feist) and Atticus Ross, who recently shared an Oscar win with Trent Reznor for scoring The Social Network.
Twenty First Republic (TFR) will be overseen by Worlds End president Sandy Roberton and Universal Republic evp of A&R Tom Mackay, who, along with Twenty First Artists CEO Colin Lester, conceived of the joint venture idea and brought it to Monte Lipman, President & CEO of Universal Republic, home to Amy Winehouse and Florence + the Machine.
“In a business where we need to continue to be innovative, take chances and search for other opportunities, it's a great strategic alliance,” says Lipman. “If you go back in time, with every great album, you can usually cite a great producer that was associated with it. So the value of the producer is as strong as ever.”
Indeed, the new entity, which is part of a global initiative laid out by new UMG chairman Lucian Grainge, is very much a reflection of the times. “The music industry is predominantly pop-driven, it's just where we are musically for the moment,” says Mackay. And with producers increasingly sharing in credits beyond mechanicals and points, another revenue stream that’s directly tied to their artists’ commercial success seems to make sense.
“In a lot of cases these days, producers are getting song credits,” says Lipman. “We have one now with Enrique Inglesias featuring Frank E, who is also the producer of the song. Frank showed up with the track, he did the production and Enrique thought it was only fair to give him that credit.” But Lipman cautions that the new company is not just a money grab. “It's good for both of us -- it's about the strategy and it's about offering more opportunities to these producers.”
Before you cry conflict, well, we did, and this is what Mackay had to say about the possibility of artists feeling pressured or influenced to work with producers on the TFR roster: “In all my years of doing this, I've never forced or made an artist work with somebody that they didn't choose themselves.”
Lipman seconds that notion. “At Universal Republic, we empower the artist and ultimately they make the final creative decisions, and that's something that we feel very strong about. The same applies here. We support these creative people we give them opportunity.”
Adds Lester: “We are in the business of ultimately selling records and are not going to jeopardize that just to make commission from a production. That would be very shortsighted and it's certainly not what TFR is about. We are about developing long-term careers as we are with artists.”
So what is the end goal for TFR? Banking on the music fans of tomorrow, of course. “It makes perfect sense for us to work with contemporary producers as well as help develop the next generation who will produce the music of the future,” says Lester.
TFR will have offices in New York and Los Angeles.
For more on Twenty First Republic, read a brief Q&A with the principals after the jump.