Fresh off the heels of receiving nine Grammy nominations last week and being named the #2 Independent Record Label in the US overall by Billboard, Entertainment One Music, under the new leadership of attorney-to-the-stars Chris Taylor, is bullish about the music business heading into 2017.
Taylor hit the ground running after selling his successful management and boutique imprint Last Gang Records to Canadian entertainment giant Entertainment One in Q1 of this year, and taking the reigns as President of the company's music division worldwide.
Digital distribution is now our strength and we have a growing in-house team of eight people in our New York office who take care of this for us
"I started on March 8 and I've been travelling three weeks of every month since I started," he says by phone from Los Angeles.
"I've made five or six trips to the UK; I am in L.A. every month, I'm in and out of New York frequently, because that's where we have a lot of our music staff; and in Nashville, where our gospel and (Americana/roots label) Dualtone divisions are."
One of his first decisions in joining eOne was to get out of physical distribution in North America. “Our physical business was part of a larger Film and TV distribution business which moved in 2016. We still have a “physical business,” but ADA/Warner are going to help us with a part of it starting in 2017. It’s a true “win-win” for everyone.
"We continue to release on CD in parts of Europe, where the sales numbers haven't declined as rapidly, but we use third-party distributors to handle this for us. Digital distribution is now our strength and we have a growing in-house team of eight people in our New York office who take care of this for us on a worldwide basis."
Along with introductions and oversight, Taylor has been creating new alliances and forging a series of joint ventures to bulk up the revenue streams eOne's music division has coming in.
One of the areas Taylor has placed a lot of energy in is its management division. As part of the package, Taylor brought his partnership with Matt Langille's People Champ firm in-house.
"We've been together now for about three years managing (Canadian EDM DJ and producer) Ryan Hemsworth; (collaborative hip-hop/jazz quartet) BadBadNotGood; (Québec beats producer) Tommy Kruise; (Edmonton EDM sibling duo) Tennyson, (Graham Walsh's electronica ensemble) Holy Fuck and celebrity chef Matty Deathbro (aka Matty Matheson).
"Under Last Gang Management, we manage Arkells, Lights, (mixtape star) DCF aka David Charles Fischer, Finnish electronica artist Huoratron (Aku Raski), and (Canadian grime and dubstep rapper) MC Tre Mission.”
The management division at eOne is called The Ozone Management Group of Companies, or “Ozone,” for short. It now includes five management companies: People’s Champ, Last Gang, as well as UK/US company, Nerve, Hardlivings (UK) and WRC Management, which manage Montréal-based, Polaris Music Prize winner Kaytranada.
The publishing division is his next area to expand: That department is already integrating well into the rest of eOne, taking over music supervision duties on eOne film project Molly’s Game and new eOne TV show, ICE. In the meantime, eOne expects to release as many as 75 albums in 2017, "and of course we're talking about a lot more singles in today's world," Taylor adds.
Taylor says he isn't sure how many Canadian album releases are scheduled in 2017, but says it could be as high as 20. "We have a number of Canadian artists on the roster and we had Juno wins last year with Death From Above 1979 on the Last Gang side and Emilie-Claire Barlow on eOne - so the roster is fairly eclectic."
There's also a wealth of repertoire being fed into the company via Dualtone Records, which gave eOne The Lumineers, the Denver folk-rock trio that has ongoing success with a pair of albums (the self-titled 2012 debut, and this year's Cleopatra, which both came out here on Dine Alone), and upcoming releases that include a Guy Clark anthology and Chuck Berry's final recording.
Its hip-hop division is home to superstar acts, including The Game, Snoop Dogg and DJ Drama; urban charting stars Musiq Soulchild, Lalah Hathaway, SWV and Michelle Williams. Partnerships with My Block Records, Quietwater Entertainment and Karew Records have helped give eOne a strong lead in the Gospel segment, with superstar acts such as Dorinda Clark-Cole, Bishop Paul S. Morton, James Fortune, Jonathan McReynolds, Jonathan Nelson, Erica Campbell (of Mary Mary), Donald Lawrence, Karen Clark-Sheard, and Gospel Hall of Famer Shirley Caesar.
He adds that the strength of eOne is that "It's a global company with 20 offices and 1600 staff around the world, so we're pretty diverse and not particularly reliant on any one territory." That said, eOne's strength in Film, TV and Family entertainment products has given it a definitive lead in the UK, "where we're the number one independent distributor."
Asked if the music division is actively seeking new acts or in acquiring active catalogues, Taylor doesn't miss a beat. "Oh yes," he responds. "They can pitch me at CTaylor@entonegroup.com.”