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EMMA bunting: unveiling of new management body sparks row


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EMMA is a new collective body that has been created for the artist management community.

It stands for the European Music Managers Alliance and links management bodies in the UK, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland, Norway and Finland. It also has connections to similar organisations in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

The focus is to ensure managers and their artists are more directly involved in deals and debates that will impact on the future shape of the international music business. There will be 800 European managers represented by EMMA, with an additional 600 added in worldwide.

Long-standing artist manager and UK industry lobbyist Keith Harris will serve at the inaugural chair. In announcing its formation, EMMA outlined the three key components of its manifesto:

1.) working towards greater involvement of creators in licensing deals and ensuring that commercial partnership with DSPs are made more transparent.

2.) closer involvement of musicians in key policy areas such as IP debates, taxation, collection society reform and the impact of Brexit on creators.

3.) networking efforts, education initiatives and information pooling among managers.

“As the business representatives of artists, songwriters and producers, the role of the music manager has assumed ever greater importance in the digital era,” says Harris. “For the future health of our business, and particularly with Brexit on the horizon, it is therefore vital that managers can maintain close contact and participate fully and openly in all commercial and policy discussions that impact on our clients. The creation of EMMA will make this possible.”

EMMA adds that a more detailed agenda will be presented to the industry at large at Midem this June.

The IMMF (International Music Managers Forum) has, however, issued its own statement on the launch of EMMA. It is a long-established organisation and represents managers from over 50 countries and so was always going to have something to say when a new body moved in.

“[The IMMF] is surprised to hear today of the creation of a new organisation seeking to represent artist managers in Europe,” it said in a statement. “This new initiative from MMF UK adds confusion and IMMF regrets that the initiative was taken without any consultation. IMMF believes this is counter-productive in our efforts to best defend the interests of artists we represent, in particular before European institutions.”

It also used the opportunity to outline its own agenda, using the backdrop of political and economic tensions in Europe to call for greater unity among creators. Its focus will be on:

1.) a more level playing field for artists from smaller markets when it comes to the globalisation of playlists.

2.) unlocking the potential of Music Moves Europe, which should start to increase funding for creators after 2020.

3.) creating a more harmonious global IP framework

4.) nurturing new markets for music, “from Argentina to Portugal, from Romania to Zambia”.

This morning, the IMMF has sent out a tongue-in-cheek tweet simply linking to a clip from The Life Of Brian, where political internecine fighting is mocked via the People’s Front Of Judea sketch.

All joking aside, however, it is important for the industry that the role of, and focus on, management is changing and adapting – and any move to place the artist in the room when major deals are being done is only to be applauded.

Both EMMA and IMMF have strong and noble intentions here but there is the risk that, at a time when the creative community absolutely needs to move as one, their messages and goals could get diluted.

Eamonn Forde

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