Published Jun 18, 2008As more and more major labels dodge debt collectors and scramble to keep their shirts, things seems to be on the up and up at Europe's largest independent label collective, Beggars Group. In a recent interview with the Telegraph, Beggars' founder, owner and chairman, Martin Mills, said the label network stands to have the best year in its three-decade history. And with artists like Radiohead, Vampire Weekend, the Raconteurs and Beck now all under the Beggars umbrella, it's not surprising.
Mills revealed Beggars is projecting a turnover of nearly $100 million this year, with the company pulling in roughly $10 million a year in pre-tax profits, according to its most recent records. These dollars and cents stem from some of the world's most revered indies, such as 4AD, XL, Matador and Rough Trade, all of which Mills either wholly or partly owns.
Yet money has never really been Beggars' main objective. "Working with the artist comes first and making money is a happy accident that comes afterwards - hopefully, 59-year-old Mills said of his worldwide label empire, which now stretches from Britain to New York to Melbourne to Tokyo.
Stiff-shirted business stuff like budgets, targets, cashflow forecasts and plans have never been his company's forte, Mills said. "This company is run to astonishingly large degree on gut feeling and instinct rather than any kind of formal procedures."
He also went on to say that the worries about online piracy are nearly non-existent at Beggars, claiming the collective has remained relatively unscathed because fans of its music tend be "more passionate about music and more respectful of the artist than the casual listener."
"It's because we are not trying to sell people what they want, we are trying to sell people what they don't know that they want yet, Mills said. "That's the art of what we do."
To read more about Mills, his view and about how EMI is taking the piss, please see Dominic White's brilliant piece in the Telegraph. It's a good one.