Warner Institutes Mandatory 360 Deals

Warner Institutes Mandatory 360 Deals
Edgar Bronfman Jr., CEO of Warner Music Group, told a Web 2.0 conference a few days ago that his label requires all new artists to sign so-called "360” deals, a move that’s sure to provoke ire from artists’ groups worldwide. 360 deals are a recent and controversial phenomenon, whic allow labels to tap into revenue sources that were traditionally exclusive to the artists. In short, a 360 deal allows the label to get a cut of all of a band’s activities: merchandise sales, concert revenue, endorsements, online activity etc. So that they next time you buy a record and T-shirt from the merch tables you will have the honour of supporting your favourite band’s label, as well as the band.

According to Bronfman, these deals are now mandatory – one-third of Warner’s roster is under them — in order for the label to have the incentive to make the needed investment to properly promote its artists. Sagging CD sales are, of course, to blame, and there is a growing consensus that downloads are eventually going to be free. The labels, Bronfman argues, need in on the rest of the action to make it worth their while. The other side of the coin, supposedly, is that the label will actively promote the artist in a multitude of areas.

It’s unclear whether these deals will save the industry, but it’s certain they will relegate the music an artist produces as simply a part of a larger overall "brand” – something that I think we can all agree is balls.