Monday, December 9, 2013

Iron Maiden Stock On The Rise

Iron Maiden image
One of the premier metal bands is also a premier company with an excellent performing stock. In a recently released report by the London Stock Exchange entitled 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain, Iron Maiden LLP was named as one of the UK's fastest growing music firms.

Maiden has long been at the forefront of using their avid fan base as a springboard for both major tours and independent releases. The band has a huge global audience, especially online, where their fan base grew by 5 million from their touring of South America alone. In fact, it's estimated that Brazil may be the strongest market for the band overall, despite the heavy torrent use in that area.

I profiled Maiden's management in my Music 3.0 guidebook in the section titled The New Masters Of The Domain because in many ways they set the tone for the music business as we know it today. Here's an excerpt.
"In 1979, Rod Smallwood and Andy Taylor discovered and then managed the legendary metal band Iron Maiden. They subsequently named their management company after the band’s song “Sanctuary” and expanded their roster to include similar bands of the genre. 
Soon afterward, Sanctuary Management had a brilliant idea. As managers of “heritage acts,” which had long-term appeal and large fan bases but no record deals, the company decided to independently finance CD releases for the bands themselves. After all, the audience was built in and rabid. They’d buy anything the bands would put out, so why not release it themselves if a major label wouldn’t? The bands were going to tour anyway, so they might as well have a product to sell. Little did they know at the time, but this was the beginning of the new business model where the tour sells the recording instead of the recording selling the tour, as it did in M1.0 to 2.0. 
In the past, if an act would get hot as a result of local radio play, they would then tour in that location to take advantage of the energized interest. The record sold the tour by virtue of the airplay it received. The record was selling the tour. If the record flopped, there would be no tour. 
But in the new Sanctuary model, since the act had a strong enough fan base to support a tour anyway, why not have some product to back it up? With these new economics of self-financing the release, the act could now make more money than ever on fewer units sold. And since it was cheaper than ever to create a release (since by then most musicians had studios at home that were more powerful than The Beatles ever had during their heyday), the stage was set for taking advantage of both the technology and the consumer environment. 
For a time, Sanctuary Records and its artists succeeded wildly, to the point that the company expanded into a full-fledged record label (and a subsidiary of Universal Music) with traditional M2.0 staff and infrastructure. Soon afterward, however, it collapsed under the weight of that traditional infrastructure. The company had ventured beyond its original concept and comfort level, and eventually paid for it. Sanctuary essentially ceased to exist as a record label at the end of 2007, although it’s assets have since been sold to BMG. 
Sanctuary started the trend of an artist self-releasing a record during M2.0, way ahead of the curve and way ahead of what's commonplace today. Without knowing it at the time, the company paved the way for artists living in our current music generation, where self-production, promotion, and distribution are not only commonplace but the norm."
Some of the things that Sanctuary pioneered include:

   * The tour sells the recording, not the other way around

   * The CD becomes just another piece of merchandise

   * The artist markets and sells directly to his fanbase

   * Self-releasing can be more profitable than having a label

   * The artist can make more money on fewer sales

Iron Maiden LLP was actually just one of the music companies honored by the London Stock Exchange. The others include the music app company Shazam, distributor Kobalt Music Group, and music library Audio Network.

You can read additional excerpts from Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age or my other books at

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