The Hot Seat: Tim Clark

Published in The Music Network


How did you and your partner David Enthoven come together to create IE Music?

We met back in 1968, when I was with Island Records, the leading independent. And he was with EG, a really successful management company at the time. David managed King Crimson, Roxy Music, Emerson, Lake and Palmer — all of whom were signed to Island. He also managed T-Rex for a while. We worked together for the next eight years or so, until he took his acts off to Polydor for a shed- load of money. It was just through an extraordinary set of circumstances that we got together again in 1991. He had an office in West London and he wanted someone to help share the rent. I was also looking for an office. There was no intention of us actually going into partnership together. Of course, in hindsight, it was only a matter of time. He was managing Bryan Ferry at the time. Brian Eno approached us to do some work for him.

The real turning point was in 1994 when we were approached by Virgin to do an executive management role on Massive Attack. Massive Attack had a young manager who recognised he had little experience. And he wanted an experienced management team to help. Up to that point, David and I were just a couple of old farts. Almost overnight, Massive Attack turned us into “wise old gurus”. That really was the start of building a successful company.

Are you still signing artists?

Absolutely. In the last three or four months, we’ve taken on Duffy. We’re still looking. But in this day and age, you have to be incredibly picky, because it’s very difficult to break new acts. Will you be doing any business while you’re in Australia? Yes, we’ve got a small office in Sydney which is run by Dan Medland. We also have a joint venture with Inertia to find up-and- coming Australian talent and to manage that talent on a worldwide basis.

You also have a team in L.A.

It’s a small office. We have Josie Cliff, who has managed Robbie Williams for ten years. She’s a director in the company, and we really couldn’t operate without her. We also have David Russell who previously managed Sia and is now managing Duffy. All the people that are managing artists on our behalf actually started here in junior roles and in effect we trained them up.

At his peak, Robbie Williams was literally the biggest act in the world.

Well, I think he still is. The phenomenal Take That tour has showed just how popular not only Take That were, but Rob as an artist went down astoundingly well on all the dates. He is a huge star and he’s an ultimate gent. He’s a really thoughtful, considerate nice guy. And he’s pretty shrewd. [Take That’s 29- date mid-year U.K. tour grossed U.S $185,175,360 and sold 1,806,473 tickets].

You orchestrated the enormous Robbie Williams integrated deal with EMI back in 2002.

It was the first of its kind, certainly for its scale. How did you set about creating it? We knew that to most effectively promote a major artist we had to be in a position to look at all the potential streams of revenue in a really cohesive way. It meant that we wanted to be able to take decisions about recorded music and ticketing and live, and all the rest of it. This was really coming into the age of being able to bundle things. We recognised that if the record company felt they had ownership of an artist, that was going to be almost impossible to achieve. So the real emphasis on all of this was to strike a partnership deal with a record company, and to have the record company have an interest in all of the other revenue streams so they could work with us in exploiting all of those rights in a complementary fashion.

Robbie Williams is out of contract now. Having learned all the lessons we learned the first time around, we are now putting together a more sophisticated version of that deal we struck with EMI.

Are you looking at the majors, or are you looking at doing something independently?

We’re looking at both.

Are there plans for Robbie to come out here any time soon?

Not with Take That, but we certainly hope that Rob’s new album is released next year and that a tour will include Australia. ”

Word Magazine has an illustration of former EMI chairman Guy Hands about to detonate the “EMI” building with Robbie cowering behind it. The headline is “The man who broke the record industry.” Is he the guy who broke who the record industry?

No, he didn’t. Digital technology is what has changed our industry and is changing the economic model of our industry. And we have to get to grips with it. The major record companies have singularly failed in that respect. But it shouldn’t cause any wonder. In any revolution, it’s the big corporations that are the slowest to change. There are many exciting things happening because of digital technology. The only two things that matter to this industry are the artists and the fans. Everything in the middle actually has to justify their roles. Major record companies are probably the ones who need to change most.

Does Robbie always listen to your advice?

Of course. He doesn’t always take it, but we wouldn’t expect him to.

Tim Clark will be a guest speaker at the September 7-9 BigSound summit.

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