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Why I’m doubling our funding within the UK music trade, simply when folks say it’s shedding world energy.

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You’ve all heard the arguments. The UK stays the world’s third largest music market, however its homegrown artists are discovering it more and more tough to make it large on the worldwide stage.

That’s all due to streaming, and a famous person artist group getting ever-more worldwide. Regardless of the likes of Harry Kinds, Ed Sheeran and Adele topping worldwide charts of late, the numbers don’t lie: In response to Billboard/Luminate stats analysed by the BPI, UK artists claimed simply 7.6% of all streams within the US final yr (by the highest 3,000 artists out there). Again in 2016, that quantity stood at 8.4%.

And don’t overlook – final yr was an ‘Adele’ yr, with the trend-curbing megastar’s long-awaited album launch, 30.

There are, although, some optimistic indicators for British stars: UK artists claimed 12.1% of all world streams final yr (of the highest 1,000 artists worldwide), in response to Billboard/ Luminate. That put the UK in a strong No.2 spot behind the US (with 59% of all streams) and comfortably forward of Canada (5.4%).

What’s extra, PRS For Music – which represents British songwriters globally – noticed a 22.4% rise in collected revenues final yr (on a relentless forex foundation), suggesting that British creativity stays a profitable drive in a altering world.

Lucas Keller is founding father of Milk & Honey, one of many USA’s largest songwriter and producer administration corporations, which has additionally expanded into artist administration, sports activities, Web3 and extra in recent times.

Moreover, Keller’s firm (co-partnered by L.A-based government Nic Warner) brags that it’s struck music publishing catalogue sale offers cumulatively price over $150 million prior to now two calendar years.

Headquartered in L.A, the agency additionally runs places of work in Nashville, New York, Dallas, London, and Sydney. Milk & Honey arrange its UK workplace in 2020, run by Brit exec Ant Hippsley.

It’s loved a spate of successes with UK expertise since, together with involvement on No.1 albums and/ or Prime 5 singles from the likes of Ed Sheeran (through David Hodges), Dua Lipa and George Ezra (through Stuart Worth), Sam Fender (through Wealthy Costey), Celeste (through Jamie Hartman), Meduza/Dermot Kennedy (through Gez O’Connell), Billen Ted/The Wellerman, and James Arthur (through Andrew Jackson).

Globally, Milk & Honey’s shoppers have written and/or produced hits for superstars together with Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Doja Cat, Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber, the Jonas Brothers, Calvin Harris and The Chainsmokers, amongst many others.

Right here, Lucas Keller explains why he’s doubling funding in his UK enterprise in 2022, and why he has an unshakeable perception within the continued world energy of British creatives. Take it away, Lucas…

The very last thing we wished after we arrange Milk & Honey in London two years in the past was to have Ant Hippsley be advised, ‘Oh, you’re that man that runs that little workplace for that huge L.An organization.’

That didn’t work for me. It wanted to be the case that our British enterprise, with its UK checking account, was profitable unbiased of our L.A enterprise.

The highway to reaching that has actually opened my eyes to the distinctiveness of British expertise, and the wonderful affect it continues to have world wide. Some folks today are down on the UK, particularly UK A&R, due to the declining streaming market share of British artists globally.

And I get it: If I used to be a serious file firm Chairman, I might even be pondering what share of my world A&R finances the UK needs to be getting versus, for instance, LatAm, South Korea, or Sub-Saharan Africa. UK executives is perhaps sick of listening to the (rapidly-becoming) previous adage that, today, world hit songs and viral moments can come from anyplace.

However from Milk & Honey’s perspective, that’s simply as true of the UK as it’s anyplace else on this planet. It’s not a menace to British expertise – it’s a chance! Investing to create a transatlantic system to nurture and break that expertise is now a crucially vital technique for my firm.

Historical past suggests it’s a smart wager. Have a look at what’s weighing within the UK’s favor: An incredible pedigree and monitor file of British songwriter, producer and artist expertise, decade after decade. From Milk & Honey’s perspective, the place the runway for contemporary British expertise falls down is when artists, songwriters and producers don’t get a good alternative to shine within the US – the world’s largest music market by a ways.

“World hits can come from anyplace. That’s not a menace to British artists – it’s a chance!”

In nearly each case of us signing British songwriters, they need to know if we are able to present them with assets and alternatives in Los Angeles or Nashville, as a result of they acknowledge that, prefer it or… nicely, don’t prefer it, the US market has turn into the middle of the worldwide music streaming enterprise in 2022. We ensure that we offer that two-way avenue.

And guess what? As soon as that channel is opened up, British expertise completely kills it. Opening our London workplace additionally afforded an incredible alternative for our US expertise: direct entry into the British music market. Merely, our UK workplace has turn into air site visitors management for American shoppers who need hits with British artists. If you zoom out and take a look at it correctly, an inordinate variety of the world’s greatest writers, and its most profitable copyrights, are British.

These songs don’t must be as huge as Dua Lipa’s Levitating (probably the most streamed music within the US final yr). I’m speaking about information which can be evergreens, large crossovers, that didn’t essentially make an enormous splash within the States after they have been first launched. New songs go up, then they arrive again down – however within the streaming age it’s the place they flatten out for the long-tail that basically issues.

The proof reveals {that a} bizarrely giant proportion of the best, most timeless copyrights on this planet, nonetheless being streamed tens of millions of occasions every week, come from the UK. (Kate Bush, anybody?) Have a look at James Arthur’s Say You Gained’t Let Go (2016), which was co-written by Milk & Honey mates and shoppers, Neil Ormandy and Steven Solomon.

That music peaked exterior the Prime 10 of the US charts, nevertheless it nonetheless makes a ton of cash, and is a real crossover, as a result of it was constructed to final. Permit me another plug: Jamie Hartman. Right here’s a British man who upped sticks to Nashville to hone his craft and additional turn into one of the profitable songwriters on this planet, earlier than shifting again to Los Angeles and London.

He’s been behind an insane quantity of worldwide hits these previous few years, for everybody from Celeste (A Little Love, Cease This Flame) to Lewis Capaldi (Maintain Me Whereas You Wait), Calvin Harris & Rag N Bone Man (Big) and numerous others. He deservedly gained Songwriter Of The Yr on the Ivor Novellos in 2021.

These artists all need to work with Jamie as a result of they know he’s going to carry an immense quantity of expertise and know-how to their work – however he’ll additionally carry a distinct perspective, and a distinct cultural background, from the American writers they may have picked in any other case.


I don’t need to make trite recommendations that writing enduring hit songs is ‘within the blood’ of British writers. I don’t imagine that.

However I do agree that mainstream British tradition is tuned in to (and reverential of) music – from a genuinely various set of musicians – to an unusual diploma. And that appreciation of music in all its types is being pumped into Brits’ eyes and ears from an early age. It reveals. So, Milk & Honey’s British workplace is doing nice, it’s properly worthwhile, and we’re working with some ludicrously proficient folks.

We’re ensuring these folks then get in entrance of the fitting folks in L.A and Nashville. Plus, we’re ensuring that US writers – David Hodges being an ideal instance – can journey and work within the different course, and get correct service from us in London, as a result of the UK trade is a vital place for shoppers to craft world hits.

“Extra UK artists with the extent of success of Adele and Ed Sheeran will come quickly sufficient.”

For a similar purpose that so lots of our writers have chosen to spend time in Nashville (working with Milk & Honey South) to faucet into the native tradition and songwriting group, lots of our shoppers need to expertise the same vitality by spending time in London. This text happened as a result of Tim at Music Business Worldwide retains telling me British execs are involved concerning the numbers; that the market share of worldwide streams from British artists has been dwindling of late versus the ‘glory years’ of British music.

I’m right here to let you know, that’s simply not the sample I see in our world. British songwriters and producers particularly hold laying down hit after hit, in a number of markets, and we’re massively appreciative to work with them. We’re doubling funding within the UK as a result of we need to work with much more of them.

As a administration firm, if you service sensible British expertise correctly, if you make the calls – and name within the favors – in L.A and different US markets to get UK writers and producers their shot, most of the time you discover success. One of many huge points for songwriters at this time is the amount of workers on the main music publishers, and their expectations of their level particular person there. It’s not only a bandwidth challenge; based mostly on how the cash flows, a pubco’s L.A workplace is commonly not incentivised to assist out UK-signed writers, and vice-versa.

As an organization with 30 workers globally, we imagine we’re the biggest staff-per-writer producer administration firm, however we’re additionally nimble sufficient to ship on what we promise. Moreover, the income on a success that comes from anyplace for Milk & Honey issues. And it issues for the entire firm, not only one native workplace. As for UK artists going world? Be affected person. It appears apparent to me that there might be extra artists with the extent of worldwide success of Adele, Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran coming quickly sufficient.

The UK has brilliantly exported nice artists like this decade after decade. (I’m not distracted by the glut of dance hits and digital music focus coming from the UK proper now – as a result of we love these artists and information too! I advised you: ‘Hits come from anyplace’ in 2022!) It appears inevitable to me that British artists might be an enormous a part of the streaming famous person story within the years forward.

We need to be a lynchpin in telling British songwriters’ tales and placing them on the worldwide stage.

The UK trade might need misplaced a little bit of confidence prior to now few years. However I’ll assure you this: its brightest expertise has by no means misplaced the power to create a world smash.


This article originally appeared in the latest (Q2/Q3 2022) issue of MBW’s premium quarterly publication, Music Business UK, which is out now.

MBUK is available via an annual subscription through here.

All physical subscribers will receive a complimentary digital edition with each issue.Music Enterprise Worldwide

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