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Because Music allies with Universal’s Caroline

By | Published on Thursday 30 November 2017

Because Group

Universal Music’s label services business Caroline has announced a new alliance with French independent Because which will see the major provide marketing, promotion and physical distribution services to the indie. Though, when it comes to streaming, Because will be allied to indie label digital rights group Merlin, and will pump its content directly into key digital platforms under the Merlin-negotiated licences.

Because says that, under the new partnership, it will “work closely with Caroline International’s teams in more than 20 countries to strengthen its existing global operations. Together, the companies will focus their combined expertise on creating innovative and dynamic campaigns for Because Music’s artists and catalogue”.

The fact that digital distribution is not part of this new deal is interesting. Indies collaborating with majors to access the bigger companies’ global infrastructure is nothing new, but in the digital space some in the independent sector have argued that a negative side effect of these alliances is that the majors can claim a higher market share by combining the recording catalogues they directly control with those they currently distribute.

When negotiating streaming deals, market share can have an impact on what kickbacks can be secured from the digital service providers, so – arguably – the majors get a better deal on their own catalogue because of the weight of the indie label catalogues they distribute. Under this deal Because can access Universal’s marketing machine and physical distribution network without giving up digital distribution, which a company like Because can easily handle on its own once Merlin has done the deals for its members.

Which is why we’ll let Because Music boss Emmanuel de Buretel get away with calling this deal a “clear breakthrough” and “a brand new type of relationship”. Though a “variable geometry deal”? Too far Emmanuel, too far.

Says the Because chief: “This deal is a clear breakthrough; it opens a brand new type of relationship between the indie community and the main major. I call it a ‘variable geometry deal’ as it combines complete freedom, agility, technology and world marketing coverage while respecting the independence of the artists and labels”.

“More importantly” he added, “in this new digital world, this partnership enables us to own and control all of our data and our digital pipeline for the first time”.

Bigging up Caroline and Universal for agreeing to this arrangement, de Buretel concluded: “I look forward to working hand in hand with Caroline teams to create new ways of developing and breaking new talents everywhere. It will make Because artists more independent and better placed to enter the new world of music consumption”. Hmmm. Maybe.

And now here’s Universal big cheese Lucian Grainge with some words: “I have long admired Emmanuel’s sharp A&R instincts, his track record of breaking innovative artists and supporting music that moves culture. I’m THRILLED that Caroline International will be working closely with Emmanuel and his talented team at Because Music to build upon the success they’ve already achieved by developing new creative and commercial opportunities, as well as launching Because Music’s first US label”.

Oh yes, they’re launching a Because Music USA too. I forgot to mention that. Different benefits in different places – or a “variable geography deal” if you prefer.