In 1968 The Beatles formed Apple Corps. Although a highly flawed model this was the event that would shake up the music publishing industry and change forever the way music is delivered to the public.
The Beatles had made their way through the traditional route that had served the music industry well ever since Edison first recorded ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ on his phonograph. They played their gigs, sent demos out and knocked on doors. They exhausted the major record companies and started on the smaller independents of the day. A local entrepreneur, Brian Epstein noticed them and persuaded them to take him on as manager/agent. Eventually with his help they secured a contract with a tiny company called Parlaphone who specialised at the time in classics. Despite their success, they were trampled on by the record industry. Their creativity stifled and their pockets plundered and they decided to break free and form their own company, Apple Corps.
The concept was simple, a record company run by artists for the artists. A break away from the corporate monoliths that suffocated artistic expression whilst at the same time returning only the tiniest percentage of the profits to the people with the true talent.
Apple Corps became a victim of its own phenomenal success but the model survived. Today the independent music publisher is the driving force in the music industry. More and more artists are taking things in their own hands and cutting out the corporate giants. When the writing, recording, publishing and distribution can now all be done by the artists themselves they see little need for the traditional parasitic cartels of agent/publisher.
The interesting thing is that as the model was created by the biggest name in music business of the day, The Beatles, nobody immediately screamed ‘Vanity Publishing!’ It was seen as a legitimate and welcome response to the problems of the unknown artist securing exposure for their work.
Now, counter that with the image of a writer who sets about publishing and marketing his own book and everybody immediately responds with derision!
Fortunately the publishing industry is at last changing. The smaller independent houses, the Partnership Publishers and even the Self Publishing companies are all eating into the market. Whilst the big companies adopt a siege like mentality and cling on to their celebrity chefs and political memoires, the new companies are exploding onto the fiction shelves.
The world of books and reading has never looked so healthy. It’s just the traditional cartels that are looking a little sick!