Sony merges The Orchard and Red Essential in UK market

Sony Music is merging its two ‘independent’ distribution companies in the UK market.

The Orchard and Red Essential will be brought together and run under The Orchard’s brand from an office in Farringdon, central London.

The move therefore brings to an end the Red Essential brand in the UK, which was formed after the major acquired Essential Music & Marketing for £3.66m in Q1 last year.

Ian Dutt and Mike Chadwick (pictured), erstwhile co-Managing Directors of Red Essential, will run the new combined UK business.

According to BPI stats, Sony Music took an 11.4% market share of UK albums distribution last year, with The Orchard on 1.9%. Combined, that market share would have stood at 13.3%, slightly behind Universal’s 16.5%. (These figures do not include Sony and Universal’s physical distribution, which is handled by Sony DADC.)

“By partnering, and with the backing of Sony Music globally, the merged business will continue to provide support and benefits to independent artists and labels alike that is unparalleled in the UK.”

Jason Iley, Sony Music

In terms of singles, Sony took a 23.4% share with The Orchard on 2.3% – a combined share of 25.7%, with Universal on 37.1%.

This year, Sony has acquired two more indie distributors in Europe: Norway’s Phonofile and Germany’s finetunes.

In a press release announcing the merger today, Sony said that combining Red Essential and The Orchard would “offer artists and labels an unmatched slate of services” – including physical and digital, sales, marketing, promotion, synch licensing, neighbouring rights, strategy and analysis in more than 30 markets across the globe.

It claimed that the new company would be the UK’s “leading Artist and Label Services company” with “comprehensive delivery, owned supply chain, dedicated sales and business development teams as well as distribution and reporting systems designed specifically to provide a consolidated experience for digital and physical clients worldwide”.

The amalgamated distribution/services companies represent artists including Skepta, Run The Jewels, Giggs, Joey BadA$$, Lower Than Atlantis, Alter Bridge and Anderson .Paak.

They also handle labels including Cooking Vinyl, Cherry Red, Snapper, Red Bull Records, Demon, Thirty Tigers and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Jason Iley, Chairman and CEO, Sony Music UK and Ireland, said: “Separately, Red Essential and The Orchard have shown they are two great, innovative artist-focused companies. By partnering, and with the backing of Sony Music globally, the merged business will continue to provide support and benefits to independent artists and labels alike that is unparalleled in the UK.”

Co-Managing Directors Ian Dutt and Mike Chadwick said: “There is no other company that comes close to what we offer. Our team’s expertise and first-class business relationships, combined with the global sales and marketing network and cutting-edge technology, gives our clients everything they need to maximize their success.”

Colleen Theis, Chief Operating Officer, The Orchard, said: “The Orchard has always worked on a global scale. Combining forces in the UK with Red Essential to create a single company with an incredible roster of independent artists and labels allows all of our clients to benefit from market strength and a strong competitive advantage, both at home and abroad. The collaboration will create unique opportunities to market and drive revenue for our clients.”

The Orchard was founded in New York in 1997 by Richard Gottehrer and Scott Cohen.Music Business Worldwide

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