WMA making music

Agency gets AFTRA OK to launch indie diskery

:A new indie record label now in the works has a familiar name: William Morris.

The William Morris Agency announced plans to launch its own record label, a separate entity that will operate as a distinct entity from the talent agency business.

The percentery plans to formalize its plans within the next three months and announce a structure for the new label. As yet the label has no distribution deal and no name, and the agency did not announce what its initial investment will be in the venture.

But WMA did get clearance to form the label over the weekend from the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which regulates the music side of the agency business because its membership includes recording artists.

Central to the union’s concerns is that there would be no conflict of interest, where a WMA agent would be negotiating a deal for a client with the William Morris label – in effect making the agency a buyer and a seller. WMA represents such artists as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Travis Tritt and Sheryl Crow. WMA gave assurances that there would be no conflict of interest.

In fact, WMA and other agencies generally represent clients not on recording deals, but on tours and personal appearances. Record deals often are negotiated by attorneys and managers.

And the new label does not necessarily mean that they will draw on WMA’s client list. Many of the artists already have longstanding deals of their own.

Smaller players

The percentery sees an opportunity in the record industry for smaller players, which promote their ability to have more personalized contact with artists than the bigger guns in the business.

“Both the William Morris Agency and AFTRA understand that technological and macro-economic changes have radically altered the entire entertainment business, demanding a new approach,” WMA’s chief operating officer, Walter Zifkin, and AFTRA’s national executive director, Bruce York, said in a statement. “We’re pleased that we could work together to realize that vision.”

Zifkin and Richard Rosenberg, WMA’s worldwide head of music, led the agency’s negotiations with AFTRA.

It is expected that WMA will seek outside executives to run the label.

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