How did you get into music publishing?
In my teens, I managed a band featuring some of my friends. They became quite successful and were signed to a Belgian indie label and subsequently licensed to a major. I then started working for an indie label that was eventually taken over by several other bigger companies. I proposed that they start a publishing company as this has always been the most interesting part of the music business for me. I’ve always been a music publisher. It was not really a choice, it came naturally.
What concerns do you have in your market?
Our signings come from the Benelux, UK and France. Our main goal is to sign the best artists we can - it’s as simple as that. But sometimes it isn’t. A domestic success is always extremely important, even in a small territory. We consider the world as our market as most of our signings already have international exposure, and this is the goal for the artists that don’t have this exposure. We are an international player. I have concerns about economically healthy countries with low or no income such as South East Asia, South America or the Middle East. Not to mention China and India.
What’s a typical day like for you?
There is no typical day. My Brussels office is my base. Some weeks I travel a lot because I think you always get much better results from face-to-face meetings. Other weeks I need to be closer to my staff and my family. In addition, there are many board meetings to attend including those of my own company, SABAM, the Independent Music Publishers Forum that I chair and the Belgian Music Publishers Association and ICMP. I listen to music and take many phone calls while driving.
How is your relationship with your local collective management organisation?
Our relationship with the them is very good. This is not to say that their service is always perfect, but their evolution has been significant. We have a good working relationship and we do our best to help them, to understand the problems they encounter as long as they do their best to correct such problems. They are a necessary partner and at times offer the best protection to independent publishers.
Is there any legislation or policy reviews of concern coming up in your market?
We are following various pieces of legislation and policy reviews in the Belgian market. In addition, we are concerned with copyright in the US as well as the European Commission's review of the Digital Single Market. We try to follow, understand and anticipate all the issues with the help of professional associations. Of importance for today's independents is to understand the world in which they are living. European authorities can sometimes give the impression that their right hand doesn’t know what their left hand is doing.
How do you see your market evolving over the next ten years?
The market will be all about streaming and smartphones as well as TV on demand. Radio will still be important and live concerts will continue to thrive. Sync will also play a big role. I foresee less income for publishers, but a much bigger market for music on smartphones.