This week we catch up with Daniel Fethers, a manager at YMU Business Management. YM&U Business Management is an accountancy and business management company supporting creatives from the world of music and beyond in their journeys through writing, releasing and touring.
Firstly, please tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do at YMU Business Management and how you work with artists and management companies? Can you tell us a little bit about the services you offer, from taxation, to accounting, royalty and residual audits and royalty management?
I joined YMU Business Management (formerly OJK) over ten years ago. The business has been in the music and entertainment industries for over 30 years. As a director, I am working with clients in the Music, Sports, Broadcast, Literary and Social Media industries. We provide business management and accounting services to many artists, broadcasters, influencers, management/production companies, record labels and publishing companies. For emerging artists and managers, I encourage collaboration as much as possible. This helps clients understand and appreciate the work involved in taking care of their financial affairs. If they later ask us to take care of everything, we can accommodate that. For a lot of our clients, we become part of their internal day to day team, liaising with managers, tour personnel, lawyers, bankers and family members. We are then able to efficiently advise on all matters financial.
We have a wealth of experience in catalogue valuations, royalty audits, examinations and third-party accounting, including producers and contributors. Our royalty department have significant experience performing catalogue valuations, producer, contributor and other third-party accounting along with providing a full music industry registration service, registering recordings, writers and songs with PPL, PRS, MCPS and all overseas collecting societies. With our royalty audit service, we ensure that you have been correctly compensated for your rights by cross checking royalty statements to contracts to ensure no omissions have been made. As a result of our work, we regularly secure six figure payouts for our clients.
What new music releases are you enjoying currently?
I’ve been listening to Fred Again – Actual Life 2.
It was released a while ago but Shy FX’s Raggamuffin Soundtape is always on heavy rotation.
It’s also hard to escape Sam Fender’s latest album, Seventeen Going Under. I’m looking forward to hearing that live, in 2022!
What was the last gig you went to?
I was lucky enough to see The Rolling Stones in Las Vegas, back in November. There’s nothing quite like 45,000 fans in a stadium singing every word, especially after such a crazy couple of years.
What have YMU Business Management been working on recently and how has the last 24 months been for you?
The last twenty four months have been an interesting period, as to be expected with the rescheduling, cancellations and adapting to the new ways of performing live music as well as getting ready for the return to ‘normal’. We’ve had to rapidly move with the times, updating our software and our practices to suit the online world, working from home, and to match all the changes happening in the industry. Alternative revenue streams have been a big consideration for artists. It’s been interesting to witness the progress in the streamed/interactive gig space. Not quite the same as a live gig but, for some, it was a new and exciting way to play live and engage with their audience. Another interesting and fast-moving sector is NFTs. Many have jumped on the band wagon but it’s been great to see music artists creating innovative NFT collections.
For some of our established acts, the pandemic has given them time to consider their options. Many have taken the decision to sell their publishing rights. This has been and continues to be a growing market. We work with our clients on the decision-making process, provide appropriate financial and tax planning advice, catalog valuations and in most cases we are instructed to negotiate with interested third parties.
It’s been great supporting our clients back into studios and venues and seeing the comeback from 2019, particularly those artists that have just entered the industry. It’s not quite a bounce back yet, but I’m very optimistic for 2022!
Any big plans for 2022?
I’m hopeful for 2022 and have seen a lot of our clients gearing up for live performances which is exciting to see. We’re looking forward to live performances too and not just for work!
We plan to reinforce our support for new emerging clients. This is something we’re really excited about as it will allow us to work with clients earlier in their career. Usually at a time where they need expert advice but cannot necessarily afford it. I’m looking forward to seeing where they’ll take their music and what projects they’re going to be pursuing next.
When is the “right time” for an artist or manager to start working with a business management firm such as YMU?
There is no real “right time”. For artists, we usually start work when they’ve signed their first record contract, sometimes before that, depending on how fast they’re growing. Typically, a recording or publishing contract will require the appointment of a suitably qualified accountant. This provides comfort to the parties involved that funds are distributed correctly and any obligations placed on the artist are fulfilled in good time.
We always look to work closely with our clients and provide ongoing advice and be proactive rather than work on an annual basis like many traditional accountancy firms. Whilst we do have standardised ways of working, everything we do can be tailored to the client.
What do you think the next few years will look like for the music industry as we recover from the pandemic?
I feel extremely optimistic about 2022 and beyond. I think 2022 will be a huge return to live music, with every venue booked with a great mix of new and established acts. The public demand is definitely there, across all age groups. Brexit has caused its own set of problems but nothing that isn’t solvable. The last two years has caused a significant backlog of postponed tours, which are now ready to play. Not to mention the crop of new artists looking to promote their first album or EP.
This is not specific to the pandemic but I would also like to see further progress made in the battle for transparency around streaming revenue. There are several great organisations driving this conversation and I look forward to seeing a fairer deal for creators.
Is there anything you would like to say to managers who are interested in finding out more about YMU Business Management?
Feel free to drop me an email or give me a call. I’d be more than happy to discuss any ideas, whether these are coming from an artist or an artist manager. We are here to help!
020 3205 0100