Inside Move: Stewart sets up Artist Network

Rocker rolls out U.K. haven for media talent

An “artist-friendly” entertainment venture, embracing movies, TV, music, publishing and visual arts, is being formed by millionaire rock star Dave Stewart, better known as the bearded half of the Eurythmics.

Artist Network is backed by, among others, Anita and Gordon Roddick, creators of eco-friendly retail chain the Body Shop, and Andy Law, founder of St Luke’s, a maverick ad agency. Also on board is American banker Michael Phillipp of Deutsche Bank.

The new outfit, which has raised $10 million, aims to give talent bigger royalties and freedom from what Stewart regards as the corporatization and corruption of entertainment. It also will encourage cross-genre collaboration among its artists.

Announcing the initiative in the Financial Times, Stewart, the outfit’s creative director, said, “We want to develop artists over time, rather than expecting new signings to sell massively straight away. The aim is to provide an alternative to the mass-produced and meaningless product that is currently being churned out.”

At the hub of the venture’s activities will be an indie record label, which reportedly is about to sign nine acts, including reggae star Jimmy Cliff.

“Elizabeth” helmer Shekhar Kapur will oversee the film division; he intends to concentrate on recruiting and developing directing talent from Asia. He’s already working on a project with Irish helmer Jim Sheridan.

In charge of TV is Malcolm Gerrie, the former music program-maker and current CEO of Initial, the indie owned by Dutch entertainment giant Endemol. He’ll continue to work at Initial, overseeing programs for Artist Network on a project-by-project basis.

Among the effort’s first TV ventures is “Street Dreams,” a U.K.-wide talent search for new bands.

Phillipp hopes to raise another $20 million over the next year or two. The initial $30 million will fund 10 music projects and up to five films.