Because Music’s Emmanuel de Buretel: ‘We don’t follow the hype – we trust our ears’

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LOTM-squareModoMBW’s Label Of The Month feature celebrates record companies at the very top of their game. This month’s recipient is Because Music, run by Emmanuel de Buretel and his team in London and Paris. Label Of The Month is supported by Modo – the music design, production & project management specialists.


Because Music stands as a shining example for independent labels everywhere that a true global smash doesn’t always have to come from within a major record company.

Last year, the London and Paris-based music firm released Lean On by Major Lazer for the world excluding North America (where the band self-released), Asia and Australia.

The track finished the year at No.5 on the IFPI’s Top Digital Singles list – selling 13.1 million units – and in November overtook Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud as the most streamed song of all time on Spotify.

And now, with French band Christine and the Queens – set to star at Glastonbury this weekend – Because founder Emmanuel de Buretel might just have another big hit on his hands.


De Buretel is keen to credit Major Lazer’s success to the band’s management – namely, TMWRK exec Kevin Kusatsu and marketing arm mtheory.

However, it was Because’s knowledge of the EU digital market in coordination with TMWRK that ensured Lean On hit its potential in Europe. The song now boasts over 800m Spotify streams, while the accompanying video has over 1.4 billion views.

Major Lazer signed to Because when de Buretel found out Kusatsu was looking after the Diplo side-project.

The label boss promised his friend that Because could do a cleverer job than had been achieved with the producer’s debut, Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do, which reached No.169 on the Billboard 200 in 2009.

“I love Diplo and I really liked the first album,” says de Buretel. “It didn’t sell anything but I think there were some great tracks on there and I said we can do better… which we did.”

Diplo’s second record – his debut on Because – was 2013’s Free the Universe. It reached No.34 in the US and sold over 48,000 copies. De Buretel had proven himself good to his word.

2015 follow-up Peace is the Mission was the group’s global breakthrough, and delivered smash single Lean On.

Emmanuel de Buretel“When we heard the new Major Lazer album, Lean On was very quickly the one for us, even though there was a lot of tracks with big names. The melody, chorus and production was new and interesting.”

emmanuel de buretel, because music

“When we heard the new Major Lazer album, Lean On was very quickly the one for us, even though there was a lot of tracks with big names on the album,” says de Buretel.

“I think any major company would have pushed to start with the big [featured artist] names, but we pushed to start with Lean On.

“The melody, chorus and production was new and interesting and the video was really cool.”


The buzz for Lean On first started in Holland, moving to France, then the UK, where it got support from BBC Radio 1 and Global’s Capital FM.

Because’s ability to react fast as a nimble company meant the momentum never slowed, says de Buretel.

“Sometimes in a major company there’s five people between the product manager, marketing manager, and the artist and it breaks the speed.

“Major Lazer’s management are really open on the creative side for Diplo to react quickly, so the flow is very fast and the reactions are very quick.

“If an independent puts the energy into the technicality of selling or streaming and has a good creative team, they are much faster than any majors, much less political, and much more focused.”

emmanuel de buretel, because music

“If an independent puts the energy into the technicality of selling or streaming and has a good creative team, they are much faster than any majors, much less political, and much more focused.”


De Buretel knows what he’s talking about, being well versed in the inner workings of both the major and the indie worlds.

He founded Because Group in 2005 after spending nearly two decades working for Virgin in France and in the UK – first as an independent, and then part of a major after it was sold to EMI.

In the late nineties, de Buretel was named head of Virgin Records France, where he famously brought together a consortium of indies to be distributed by Virgin – including Warp, Big House, Domino, Bella Union and Mute.

At the same time, de Buretel set up his own publishing company Delabel Editions, signing Daft Punk, Louise Attaque, Air, Doc Gyneco, Cheb Mami and Madredeus.

After taking over as head of Virgin Continental Europe in 1998, he brought artists like Manu Chao, Air, Cassius and Daft Punk to international acclaim.

De Buretel left Virgin in 2005, frustrated by what he saw as a short-sighted approach to multi-rights deals, and launched Because Group.

Today, Because is made up of UK label Because Music, French label Because Music Sarl, publisher Because Editions, live promoting arm, Corida and Paris concert halls La Cigale and La Boule Noire.

“I wanted the publishing, record and live company to interact [at EMI], and the new management didn’t,” remembers de Buretel.

“When I left EMI I bought three concert halls in France, a promoter [Corida] and started to sign acts with everybody interacting with each other. I still believe that is the best way to develop artists.

“When I signed Justice, for example, I toured them, I published them, but I didn’t impose a 360 deal on them. It was just that the quality of the tools we developed made Justice choose to work with us in all those different areas.”


By owning a promoter, record company and publisher, de Buretel can use data from all areas of a breaking artist’s business to inform marketing and tour decisions.

“The interaction between the different parts of the music industry helps me to develop new bands,” says de Buretel.

“It means I’m much more focused, by having my promoter and the publisher spending the money with me to build the stature of the artist to an extra level.”

Alongside Justice, early Because success stories included electronic acts like Sebastian, Selah Sue and Metronomy, as well as Mali music duo Amadou & Mariam and French/Spanish singer Manu Chao.

De Buretel explains: “By applying pop marketing and investing a lot on the projects, we built it to a level where D.A.N.C.E. by Justice became a big track all over the world with millions of downloads, where Amadou & Mariam sold half a million albums, Manu Chao sold a million albums and Metronomy sold around 300k.”

“Artists can come from all over the world, I think we are very open minded and I like that. A Because artist is someone who has something different to bring to the table.”

emmanuel de buretel, because music

He adds: “Artists can come from all over the world, I think we are very open minded and I like that. Our newest signings are Lido from Norway, Klyne from Holland and Calypso Rose from Trinidad.

“A Because artist is someone who has something different to bring to the table.”

Today, Because has around 70 employees worldwide with offices in London and Paris and a newly-opened publishing firm in Los Angeles in partnership with Songs, headed up by Benjamin Vermeil.

De Buretel is planning on expanding this US presence by launching a record label there later this year – as soon as he finds the right partner.


The London-based SVP of Because Music, Jane Third, has helped grow the UK company alongside de Buretel from day one.

Her standout signings include Swedish act Little Dragon and Mercury Music Prize-nominated bands Django Django and Metronomy – whose fifth studio album, Summer 08, is out on July 1st.

“At Because, we are a bunch of dedicated and open-minded music fans. We don’t follow the hype, we trust our ears and sign artists we believe are important, even if the rest of the industry can’t see it yet.”

jane third, because music

Third tells MBW: “At Because, we are a bunch of dedicated and open-minded music fans. We don’t follow the hype, we trust our ears and sign artists we believe are important, even if the rest of the industry can’t see it yet.”

Right now, though, both in the UK and in Because’s home country, the label’s hottest act is undoubtedly Christine and the Queens, fronted by Héloïse Letissier (‘Christine’) – whom Third describes as “no less than bonafide star in the true sense of the word”.

Christine and the Queens released their/her French-language debut album, Chaleur Humaine, in continental Europe in 2014, where it hit No.2 in France, Belgium and Switzerland, selling 700k.

The album has now been certified platinum thanks to a marketing and promotion strategy led by SVP of Because Music, Tahar Chender.

This year, Chaleur Humaine has been released in the UK with English lyrics, which play with gender identity.

Following a storming performance on BBC One’s flagship Graham Norton Show, the LP this week hit No.1 on the UK’s iTunes and Amazon UK. It is odds-on to land in the market’s Top 10 Official Chart today (June 24).

Third continues: “Christine is a natural showman with a superhuman work ethic, stellar lyrical, songwriting and production abilities. On top of that she respects the work of the people around her, takes time to get to know them and appreciates their input.

“I stand by everything she wants to do artistically and in particular her stance on gender politics. The world needs pop stars like Christine.”

Third’s enthusiasm is matched by de Buretel.

“She is looking for a manager partner in the States, because every big manager is totally excited about Christine,” he says. “She’s really hardworking and very original in the way she sees herself.”


Inspired by the relationships he held with indie labels during his days heading up Virgin France, de Buretel still works closely with the likes of Ed Banger, 300, K7, Epitaph and Ministry of Sound, developing a network of indie publishers to represent the label’s rights worldwide.

Amongst the majors, he especially respects Warner – a Because partner – for its willingness to work with the independent community.

“I have good relationships with Universal and Sony, but Warner is smaller and they have some good ideas they should develop,” he explains.

“I hope they will because if they want to keep the independents on side, they need to develop the idea of [a worldwide distribution arm] with ADA, create new partnerships with independent companies and grow with them.

“I don’t see the majors growing without a smart strategy that helps the indies. They can’t buy each other anymore so they should be smart and find ways to help independents who can establish themselves in different countries.”

emmanuel de buretel, because music

“I don’t see the majors growing without a smart strategy that helps the indies. They can’t buy each other anymore so they should be smart and find ways to help independents who can establish themselves in different countries.”


One area de Buretel hopes the music business will work together on in future is the sharing and ownership of data – his major gripe with digital platforms like YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music.

He’s also fully behind the movement to get YouTube’s payment terms looking more favourable for rights-holders.

“If you don’t pay for content the content will start to be really crap; YouTube pays the same for a video of a little cat peeing on a cushion as they do for a Prince video,” he reasons.

“Google should understand that by giving a better margin, they would get better content.

“It represents peanuts for them and the quality they can have will be incredible. If they don’t, perhaps we’ll be on Netflix in a few years and not YouTube.”

“The big issue with digital services is that we need to own our data. If you give the information to the content provider, to the artist or the record producer, you’ll give them better ways to use your platform.”

emmanuel de buretel, because music

He continues: “The big issue with digital services is that we need to own our data. If you give money to the content provider, they will give you better content and you will get better. If you give the information to the content provider, to the artist or the record producer, you’ll give them better ways to use your platform.

“Even the major companies should give all the data to the small indies that they distribute because it will help the small indie to progress and improve. This fear of sharing is slowing down the whole process.

“We could access billions of consumers on the internet if everybody was really working together.”


ModoMBW’s Label Of The Month is supported by Modo – a company which knows a thing or two about working with great labels. Founded in 1998, the UK-based company is an expert in creative packaging. It offers a vast range of products that are already available in the marketplace – but specialises in designing and creating new and exciting packaging that remains within budgetary guidelines.Music Business Worldwide

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