Split Music speaks to Reeperbahn Magazine
Ahead of moderating his “Real Horror Stories” panel at the 2017 Reeperbahn Festival, Split co-founder Vik speaks to RFC Magazine about the workings of Split Music, philosophy and what makes us tick as a company.
Follow the link to enjoy Issue 3 of RFC Mag in it's entirety : bit.ly/2eOnVnE
It might sound cliched – but if you’re not passionate about what you do and having fun at the same time, you’re in the wrong business. Our mission statement when starting Split Music was to build a catalogue of music we absolutely loved
and could work to picture. In our case, contemporary classical, experimental electronica, trap and grime. The model and the business idea are important but without passion and genuine love for the music, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.
It all started when avant-garde composer Riz Maslen introduced Pete Saville and me. We instantly bonded over our mutual love of obscure, weird electronic music, our knowledge of the sync business and music supervision. Over beers we came up with the idea to start a new publishing company that would cater for our strange tastes, yet offer artists and their managers a simple, short-term deal that would free their music if things didn’t work out.
THE A&R PROCESS IS SPORADIC AND PERSONAL – IT HAS A LOT TO DO WITH LUCK
For both Pete and me, the foundation has always been enjoying and being inspired by new music, meeting the people who make it, sharing stories, influences, visiting their studios, going out for dinner and getting our hands dirty. We have never
had a set A&R process or pre-conceived notions of what we are looking for.
New signings mostly come to us through direct introductions from our artists or from friends, indie labels & managers who pop by the office and play us what’s exciting them the most. Our journey in experimental techno started with These Hidden Hands – a band that embodied Split Music’s vision of pushing the envelope on music to picture. “Trelesire” was used in the
BAFTA-nominated BBC series “Our World War”, and it went from there. When Tommy and Alain from These Hidden Hands played us their debut album we were blown away. We’re very proud to have represented them ever since; I know
they’ve had offers from much bigger players than ourselves. Their second LP is very special, absolutely uncompromising. We placed “These Moments Dismantled” on the “Raw” trailer, which won this year’s Golden Trailer Award for Best Foreign Music.
In less than three years, we’re lucky to have become a go-to catalogue for some of the most respected music supervisors. We are honoured to be working alongside some of the great creatives in music, both in LA and London. It’s these risk-taking music nerds in the supervision game that keep this company alive. We’ve placed music on spots for great brands like Adidas, IKEA, Lexus, Netflix, Dior, Virgin, Puma, Vice, Unicef, and many film trailers, most recently “The Dark Tower” and “Blade Runner”.
Building the team has been a learning curve. Thankfully we now have a very special group of highly intelligent, music loving characters. Delegating departments such as royalties, licensing, finance and sales was hard at first, but we eventually found people who were better than us. It’s important for everybody to be enjoying their job, as well as being really good at it.
AN ALTERNATIVE CONTRACT AND NEW WAY OF LOOKING AT DEALS
From the outset we wanted a company that could work exclusively as an owner of both publishing and master rights – and that's a big ask. With deals like this, artists and their managers have to know exactly what they’re getting into. Why should they put such valuable rights in our hands?
The only answer we have is to promise to only take on music which we believe we can do proper business for and which we're personally passionate about. Because of that, we stay focussed, and that’s key. We sign a two-year exclusive deal
for an album or just specific tracks... and nothing else. If we don’t do our work in that time, an artist/songwriter's rights are fully returned.
Independent acts can activate sync with us while they concentrate on their wider career trajectory. They can sign certain tracks to us without limiting what they do with their new work – and they can do that with any label or publisher they like. We’ve never taken any cuts on artists’ traditional sales revenue such as sales or playing live, it’s important to define as much freedom as we can within our exclusive arrangement.
The sync money we bring in operates as a great financial bonus for our artists – helping to finance that part of an artist's career is the most rewarding thing about our job, and it’s why we get up the morning. There's an element of Robin Hood in plugging experimental music into the commercial world. Our artists normally spend that money on their next creative venture, and it leaves them free to do what they do best – create great music.
We are currently in the process of launching an indie label, Research, as part of our three year anniversary, featuring some of our favourite artists. Each release will explore a challenging area of music we work in, and will be limited to 500 vinyl copies. The focus with Research is on the art rather than the industry but it’s impossible to separate the two.
From These Hidden Hands to Mondkopf to OAKE, and now into the new generation of our signings, we consider this our family. Seeing and hearing this work on massive Hollywood trailers is just awesome.
It’s why we get up in the morning.
Vik will be moderating the "Real Horror Stories" panel at the 2017 Reeperbahn Festival Conference