Published in The Music Network
David, you’re overseeing some key changes at Albert Music. From now on, the company will officially be known as Alberts?
That’s right. Everybody I talk to either locally or overseas calls us Alberts. When we talk about ourselves internally, we call ourselves Alberts. It made sense to have it as our brand. And it aims to reduce any confusion around whether we are the publisher (J Albert & Son), the music studio (Albert Studios) or our famous record label (Albert Productions), which is tied very closely to AC/DC. Our goal is to utilise all these aspects to continue to develop a creative music rights management business. Alberts pulls together all the components of the business. We’ve also given the logo a (revamp). We believe we now have an old classic with a contemporary touch.
Was there a sense that Alberts had a dusty image?
Yeah. There have been a few different terms used to describe it. Why? Well, we’ve been around for such a long time, and as a family business it’s always been fiercely independent and very private. Until last year when we celebrated our 125th anniversary, we’d not done any real publicity. That gave us a moment to think about what sort of business we want to be, our strengths. Alberts has always been about music. And the business seems to be able to change at different times in different ways. That’s how we need to be thinking at the moment.
What’s your vision for the company?
It’s about building the model of the creative rights-management company and using a creative-services approach. And it’s about having an international focus. You need to be able to break internationally in some way to really build a long-term career. We’re also trying to drive the studio as an opportunity for our artists and writers to use. The studio is the heart and soul of what we do.
The industry’s problems are well documented. Are there any solutions?
You have to be metered in the way that you approach things like creativity and artist development. Being measured, but taking risks. You have to look at other ways to seek out a return, like song pitching and having a strong licensing team and relationships both locally and overseas. In Australia, we have some very strong record companies. We’ve got a strong collecting society in APRA/AMCOS. We’ve got some amazing talent. Bands like the Jezabels are the future of what the Australian music will be like. With Google coming into the fold, that’s another new opportunity. The challenge is how the licensing will happen and what the royalties will be around that. And getting the majors and Google on the same page. Piracy is an issue, but it’s hard to believe that piracy will ever go away.
You were born into the company. Has there been pressure on you from a young age?
No, far from it. For the first 15 years of my life I was involved with marketing. I came into the business about seven years ago, at a time when dad was the chairman of the business, and he was looking to have an Albert involved in a more day-to-day basis. As a family, we’re all of the belief that the music business is the cornerstone of our heritage and our name. There seemed to be a need to have an Albert on the ground in the business to help in regard of setting the vision going forward.
Is Megan Washington planning a new album anytime soon?
She’s writing all the time. But the number one driver at the moment is the U.S and U.K., and touring those markets. She’s signed record deals in the U.K. and U.S., which is incredibly exciting. Megan has an incredible jazz talent but she’s just so driven. She’s very smart too. She understands the music business. She understands when you need to be commercially-minded and when she needs to be independent-minded. And she seems to be able to balance it all extremely well.
There’s rumour of a new AC/DC album in the works?
Angus and Malcolm are writing all the time. But you’ll have to wait for the announcement on that one. One thing we can all agree on, they’ve always done things at the right time. And only at the point when they’re ready to make something new or take another step. They’ve worked bloody hard to make it work.
Is Alberts regularly approached by acquisitive partners?
We’ve definitely been approached. But my uncle, my grandfather, my great grandfather and my great great grandfather would turn in their graves if they had an inkling that we were going to sell this. It’s definitely not part of the plan.