Canadian-based global music publisher ole landed a very big fish in the Spring of 2016, when it announced a global administration deal with Entertainment One (eOne), a leading movie and TV producer and distributor whose properties now include Toronto’s Last Gang Records, Management and Music Publishing. ole now administers the rights to eOne’s more than 40,000 film and television titles and 45,000 music tracks.
“Entertainment One is really the perfect storm in terms of being an ideal client,” says ole CEO Robert Ott. “Serving audio-visual creators has always been a mainstay of our administrative services model, and we’ve administered the Last Gang Records catalogue for a number of years. There’s a long-term relationship between myself and [eOne President] Chris Taylor in terms of having an independent viewpoint on the business.”
Toronto music lawyer and entrepreneur Chris Taylor was a principal of Last Gang before selling to eOne in March. As part of the deal, Taylor was named President of eOne Music Global. He’s gone from managing a busy domestic company to leading a global operation with offices in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the Benelux countries, Spain, France, Germany, Scandinavia and South Africa.
We reached Taylor by phone in New York City, where he was continuing his global “getting to know you” tour of eOne’s international branches. “It’s kind of like drinking from a fire hose,” he jokes, “but I’m really enjoying it.”
“Our catalogue has a huge amount of audio-visual repertoire, and I know ole is particularly focused on that.” – Chris Taylor of eOne
“I was practicing law for almost 20 years and I loved it,” he says. “This had to be an incredible opportunity for me to transition away from that, and focus on what I’m doing now. I wanted to take Last Gang to its next logical step, and I wasn’t going to be able to do that with the way my life was configured running a law firm with 10 lawyers and 500 clients. I wanted to give more focus to Last Gang, and I can do that at eOne in addition to tapping into the resources that are there.”
Entertainment One is big enough that it could have taken its admin business to any of the major music publishers.
“We had discussions, and have been working with a number of majors, and I’m sure all of them could do a great job,” says Taylor. “Deal-wise, I think that all the potential publishers might have been in the same ballpark, ultimately. But we like ole, the technology is strong, and we thought it would be the best place for us – particularly in light of the fact that our catalogue has a huge amount of audio-visual repertoire, and I know ole is particularly focused on that.”
Taylor also points to the strength of ole’s proprietary rights-management software.
“We’ve been developing software called Conductor since 2011, when we realized that the data set in music and audio visual was exploding,” says Ott. “The challenge is to conform disparate data sets from around the world. Conductor lets us do data analysis, and matching, and cleaning in complete privacy between companies and/or collectives. It gives us more access to data and information that’s subject to non-disclosure agreements. We’re going to be able to bring this technology to bear for eOne, as they’re a global client and a global actor in the industry.”
Both Ott and Taylor are optimistic about the future of music rights, after a period of contraction.
“Last year, income generated from music was up for the first time in a long time,” says Taylor. “The adoption of streaming platforms has made great gains: between Spotify and Apple, over 50 million subscribers are now paying $10 per month to listen to music. I’m bullish about that.”