Who spends more on A&R: Record labels or music publishers?

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The debate continues to rage over the proportion of streaming revenue paid to songwriters and publishers vs. that passed to record companies and artists.

One of the justifications you often hear for labels continuing to take the lion’s share of payouts from Spotify etc. is that they invest a huge amount more in A&R than those who develop songwriters.

Not true, says UK Music’s new Measuring Music report.

According the trade body’s numbers, record labels spent £178m on A&R in 2014.

That was certainly ahead of the investment in songwriters made by music publishers – but by less than you might assume.

Publishers spend £162m on writers in the year, according to the UK Music report.

If you count that as ‘pure’ A&R investment, it was just £16m behind their peers in record companies.

(In like-for-like terms, this is a rough approximation: the publishing figure – drawn from MPA data – is defined as ‘investment in writers (advances etc.)’, while the record label figure – derived from BPI data – is defined as pure ‘A&R expenditure‘.)

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However, where record labels come into their own is in the field of marketing and promoting acts.

According to UK Music’s report, labels spent £157m on this pursuit in 2014.

That brought the total ‘investment’ by labels and publisher in artists and songwriters to £497m, an increase of over £70m on the £420m figure cited in UK Music’s report from the previous year.

As reported elsewhere, the latest Measuring Music report says that the UK music business – across live, records, publishing and more – contributed £4.1m to the UK economy in 2014.

You can download the full Measuring Music 2015 report through here.Music Business Worldwide

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  • Lumping actual A&R expenses with songwriting royalty advances would not seem to make any sense whatsoever from a practical financials comparison angle. What am I missing here in this logic?

    Since the beginning of the music industry these two parasitic groups have been fighting over the life’s blood of creatives like songwriters and performers.

    Artists are best served by disintermediating the lot of them.

  • kritikosman

    This is a ‘what you talkin’ ’bout Willis!?’ article.