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Building audiences for artists


In a market where homegrown acts dominate the charts, Warner Music Denmark has a strong lineup of local artists seeking global audiences. Danish artists accounted for the majority of the top-selling albums in the country last year, and contrary to popular belief, streaming services such as Spotify have actually helped, not harmed the industry.

In fact, 5% growth was noted in recorded music revenues in 2013, and Warner Music maintains partnerships with all the major digital players to support the growth of streaming and download services.

Michael Wermuth, head of Warner Music Denmark, is doing his part to nurture local talent and build audiences for them first at home and then abroad in partnership with other offices. One important move in the company’s strategy was the acquisition of Parlophone Label Group (PLG) from Universal Music Group in 2013.

PLG owns some of the world’s best-known recordings and has an active artist roster spanning numerous genres. “Combining the strength of these two catalogues, both locally and internationally, cements Warner Music’s place as the world’s best home for extraordinary artists,” says Mr. Wermuth.

Through the acquisition, Warner Music Denmark also gained 20 local artists. “We aim to be the best partner for the best artists,” Mr. Wermuth highlights. One of Warner Music Denmark’s homegrown acts is Christopher, who was discovered by the music company at the age of 18. In the meantime, he has gone from being a teen heartthrob to developing a strong following across the board.

In the lead up to releasing his second album, Christopher appeared on a national talk show and created a song based on fan comments from Facebook and text messages. The result was a huge change in perception among older audiences that broadened his fan base. Now one of Denmark’s top-selling local acts, he won Spotify’s Innovation Award at the Danish Music Awards for his ingenious song.

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Warner Music Denmark works in broad partnership with its artists, many of whom are on expanded right deals. This means that the company works with the artist on a range of aspects such as merchandising, fan clubs, VIP ticketing, sponsorships and even brand endorsements.

The expanded rights strategy shows the company’s interest not only in the artist’s next album but in the course of his or her entire career. “We aim to be fully aligned with our artists in every facet of their careers,” Mr. Wermuth notes. “Establishing artist services has allowed us to broaden the conventional artist relationship to one that more fully supports the artists on our roster. By expanding the range of resources Warner Music offers, we are able to create closer and more fruitful partnerships centered on long-term artist development.”

With diversification in the music industry in recent years, Warner Music Denmark itself has diversified and today takes advantage of brand partnerships. These are a powerful way to align artists with products or services, often created around brands and artists with similar audiences.

The Danish music company has more than 20 such deals in progress, one of them being a brand partnership in the domestic market between Chrisopher and Aqua D’or, the largest Danish mineral water brand. In a similar vein, Warner Music Denmark offers synchronization or `sync´ deals, which can help broaden the reach of a song through films, games or advertising.

One example is a deal between disco artist Vinnie Who and Karolines Køkken (Karoline’s Kitchen), a company offering cooking products. Vinnie Who’s hit “How Can I Be Sure” is featured in the online and TV commercials for Karolines Køkken, building a recogziable music platform for the kitchen company’s advertising and giving airtime to the artist.

“Artists and labels turn to us thanks to our excellence,” the general manager says. “We are committed to our artists. We are their partners. We build their brands and their music.”

Warner Music Denmark has never been one to sit still, and that will not change in the future. “We have some major projects coming up and are continuously building capabilities in different areas,” says Mr. Wermuth. “Our market is highly competitive, and we have to be at the forefront of innovations. As technology keeps making quantum leaps, we have to be quick to provide new services. We are content owners, and we have to hook up with strong technical companies. At the end of the day, we want to be the best partner for the best artists, develop partnerships, and expand in Denmark and abroad.”

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