Sony’s Essential merger ‘a marriage of equals’ in a congested marketplace

The merging of Sony Music UK’s artist and label services division RED with Essential Music & Marketing will provide a compelling proposition for independent labels in an over-crowded marketplace.

That’s according to the bosses of the newly-joined entities, who this week form a Sony-owned company, Red Essential.

As reported yesterday, Sony has fully acquired Essential Music & Marketing, previously owned by the Cooking Vinyl Group and founded in 2003.

Red Essential will be based at The Cooking Vinyl Group’s West London offices, while the rest of the Cooking Vinyl Group, including the historic Cooking Vinyl label, will remain wholly independent.

The firm has confirmed it will use Essential partner Proper for UK & Ireland physical distribution.

RED’s Ian Dutt and Essential founder Mike Chadwick will assume the roles of co-Managing Director at Red Essential.

Ian Dutt“We view this as an alliance, as a marriage of equals with both parties bringing a lot to the table.”

Ian Dutt, Red Essential

Ian Dutt said, “We view this deal as an alliance, as a marriage of equals with both parties bringing a lot to the table.

“Essential has been a trailblazing company in the independent sector and our combined experience and resource mean that we can offer artists and labels a really fantastic combination of hands-on expertise and global reach alongside market leading tech solutions.

“Myself and Mike – who has always been at the forefront of innovation in sales and distribution – share a vision for what Red Essential should strive for on behalf of those artists and labels we represent and we are fully focused on creating a forward-thinking company that can service the needs of a fast-evolving marketplace.”

Red Essential will see the two companies combine their staff, expertise, resources and back office functions to build a global sales and distribution company in the UK market.

Mike Chadwick 2“I truly believe Red Essential offers a compelling alternative for labels and artists who up until now have lacked real choice in this sector.”

Mike Chadwick, Red Essential

Mike Chadwick said, “I have known Ian for many years and have always admired his achievements both in the independent sector, where he worked for many years, and latterly at Sony Music.

“When he suggested joining forces it took very little convincing to buy into that vision. Together we can work on incredible music, bring together some amazing people, focus our resources and combine the best elements of what both our companies have developed over the years, whilst also looking to the future.

“I truly believe Red Essential offers a compelling alternative for labels and artists who up until now have lacked real choice in this sector.”

RED – which was launched 2014 – has enjoyed success with recent campaigns for artists including Run The Jewels, Lower Than Atlantis and The Cribs, alongside their hub of labels including Kitsune, Downtown, Easy Life, Red Bull Records and Mass Appeal.

Key milestones from Essential Music & Marketing in recent times include successful campaigns for The Prodigy, Passenger, Marilyn Manson, JME, Embrace, Seth Lakeman, Ghetts, Royksopp, Skepta and Lucinda Williams.

Martin“We undertook an audit of the sales and distribution sector and saw increasing market congestion – which was not providing real value to independent labels.”

Martin Goldschmidt, Cooking Vinyl Group

Martin Goldschmidt, Chairman of Cooking Vinyl Group said, “Eighteen months ago Cooking Vinyl Group undertook a complete audit of the sales and distribution sector and saw increasing market congestion, which was not providing real value to independent labels.

“Our conclusion was that our company needed to make a strategic move to offer independent labels global market access and a compelling alternative to what already existed.

“After discussions with a number of key players it was clear the team at RED shared our vision and that an alliance with them would be the best fit for our business, the labels we represent and our staff.

“This new agreement is good for Cooking Vinyl, good for RED, good for Essential and good for the independent community.”Music Business Worldwide

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