Competing in a world market
The increasing need of multi-national corporations to make large amounts of money adds a different kind of pressure to the artists: That of becoming a global success. While bands on smaller labels are often given time to grow into their careers over the course of several albums, the larger companies need to make more money quickly.
For a band signed to a major label, particularly outside of the USA, their contracts are constructed based on their future success in multiple markets. EMI has recently signed a new deal with UK-based singer Robbie Williams. The contract is for an amount of money that makes it imperative for him to succeed in the US, a market that is notoriously difficult for non-domestic acts to thrive in.
EMI has taken the step of securing income from Robbie Williams’ merchandising sales on his 2003 tour, taking away from the traditional money-earning field for the artist, but guaranteeing them some income from their investment.
Across the world, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry points to new sales patterns emerging, with the sales of American artists beginning to decline across the world. While, 93% of sales in the US market come from domestic artists, in 2001, sales of local repertoire across the world grew to 67.5%.
This shift in buying patterns caused MTV Asia to change its music strategy altogether, shunning international acts to play up to 90% of domestic music in each of the countries in which it broadcasts. While in France, 17 of the 20 top selling albums for the year were by local acts.
The growth in domestic music sales in France has been the result of large levels of support from the French government. French artists receive social security, unemployment benefits, and subsidies for touring and rehearsal spaces. French radio stations also have an enforced quota, dictating that 40% of music must be French. This system has also been taken up by other countries, such as Turkey, French-Canadian Quebec and the Netherlands, where a 1997 government ruling forced orchestras to play at least 7% Dutch music.
To further help the French arts, a 3.5% tax is levied on all concert box office sales. The revenue is used to support new artists, the export of music, and even the purchase of new equipment for artists. Marie-Agnes Beau of The French Music Bureau, a government office promoting the export of French music, says that this tax is “not eaten by the government; it’s a tax that can help the weaker side of the business. The idea is to take money from the American artists who make a lot of money in France, and give it back to the French artists.”
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