Q&A: Mick Tarbuk on Believe Digital’s Australian entrance
Last NovemberShock Records’ long-time team member Mick Tarbuk stepped down asthe indie’s Label Director to take on a role at global digital distributor and label services providerBelieve Digital.
Taking on the newly created role of Country Manager, Australia, and working from its new Melbourne office, Tarbuk will wear many hats in his latest endeavour. As TMN finds out, Believe Digital’s entrance into the local market with its company-owned technology and relationships across 20 international territories could potentially change the game for local indie artists.
Believe Digital has just entered Australia, why now?
Australia has always been a strong territory for us, where we’ve had the pleasure of working with fantastic leading labels like Future Classic and their acts like Flume (pictured) and Chet Faker who have carved out a new sound for Australian music over the past three or so years. We now want to strengthen our position in this market and offer a full range of services to independent artists and labels in this highly burgeoning market. We have the infrastructure to not only operate well within Australia, but to also work releases internationally and help grow contemporary Australian music globally.
Image: Believe Digital has worked with Sydney producer Flume in the past
You’ll take care of label acquisitions, A&R and managing existing clients. What clients/labels/artists have you been working with lately?
To name a few, Buxton Records on their upcoming release schedule, Electric Power Pole Records on their current releases and recent signing The A&R Department on their plans for the 1st quarter of 2016. I’ve also been working the Australian plot for Glaswegian band Holy Esque, a recent UK Label Services signee.
Last month you were in Europe on business, what were you working on?
My trip was primarily to meet both the Paris and London teams and discuss the plans for Believe in Australia for the year ahead.
What have you learned about how Believe Digital markets music in its 20 territories? And of that knowledge, what do you think can be applied here in Australia?
Firstly, Believe take a ‘local’ approach when working releases in its multiple territories. We are present in over 30 territories now, which mean we have local staff on the ground in those territories to properly understand the market and assemble the right promo teams around a release.
This works for both local content, but then also for breaking releases internationally. In Australia, the primary focus will be about building up our catalogue of Australian artists and labels, before we look to properly utilize the setup for international releases.
Believe Digital claims to be the biggest independent partner for YouTube in the world, how will you use this partnership to your advantage for your clients and artists in Australia this year?
We’re one of YouTube’s largest partners and already work with some big video clients in Australia on their video strategy. We have a great relationship with YouTube – and other video platforms – and through our large video teams worldwide we provide efficient content & rights management, have access to creator tools to help users optimize their channels and videos to help grow fan-bases and revenues.
This year we’ll continue to provide top video services to existing clients, as well as target new acquisitions in the Australian market to grow our client-base.
Believe Digital acquired TuneCore in April, yet both companies have retained their own operations and staffing. What changes can we expect from this both locally and internationally in 2016?
Since the acquisition we have been working hard to integrate TuneCore’s tech with our own, whilst properly launching the brand in more markets, including Australia and the UK. We’re now aiming to accelerate the growth of these territory-specific brands in these two markets, and start moving relevant acts over from TuneCore into the bigger Believe machine.
Denis Ladegaillerie (CEO and Founder of Believe Digital) recently spoke at Slush 2015. In his presentation he said the rise of streaming will have impacts on creativity, the nature of how you develop artists, how you develop artists internationally and on the relationship between record labels and artists. What will Believe Digital do in Australia to make sure funds go back into what Ladegaillerie calls the “creativity ecosystem”?
As streaming continues to grow it remains a key focus for Believe, where we want to ensure our artists and labels are educated, are embracing the format, and most of all benefitting from it, both from the promotional aspect and of course financially. Through our tech we can ensure full transparency of what’s being paid back and earned from these services, so we can assist our artists and labels to re-invest back into creativity and talent. This is no different in Australia, where we want to contribute towards the growth of its thriving creative music scene.
Believe Digital has been behind some great marketing campaigns in recent years (Queen is one example). Tell us about what you’ve got lined up for 2016.
As already mentioned, UK band Holy Esque is an exciting project that’s currently underway and continually gaining momentum. We’re keen to break them into the Australian market.
Tell us about the marketing and promotions tool for artists, Believe Backstage. Can users of TuneCore and artists on Believe Digital’s roster in Australia take advantage of it?
We’re working on integrating both the TuneCore and Believe tech, but at the moment both platforms have their own separate user interfaces. The Believe Backstage system allows clients to fully manage their releases and reports. From uploading releases, tweaking metadata, setting promotional parameters, optimizing track prices across catalogues, accessing retail promotional information, utilizing promo tools, and of course accessing full daily sales and streaming reports. We own all our own tech and it’s something which underpins everything we do as a company.