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MBarrett

Exactly How Did The Emi / Motown Deal Work

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I've read a fair few music books but I don't recall ever reading exactly how the business relationship between EMI and Motown actually worked.

At the simplest level who decided what (and when) was released on the Tamla Motown label?

Who controlled stuff like label and sleeve design?

Who designed and paid for other marketing stuff like advertising?

And what was the basic financial arrangement. Did EMI simply pay over a fixed amt per record sold?

Knowing the control that Berry liked to exert it is hard to imagine him handing over some of the "artistic" stuff. Or maybe he just had to trust that EMI knew their own marketplace.

If anyone can help or tell me where I can read up on this stuff would much appreciate it.

MB

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I've read a fair few music books but I don't recall ever reading exactly how the business relationship between EMI and Motown actually worked.

At the simplest level who decided what (and when) was released on the Tamla Motown label?

Who controlled stuff like label and sleeve design?

Who designed and paid for other marketing stuff like advertising?

And what was the basic financial arrangement. Did EMI simply pay over a fixed amt per record sold?

Knowing the control that Berry liked to exert it is hard to imagine him handing over some of the "artistic" stuff. Or maybe he just had to trust that EMI knew their own marketplace.

If anyone can help or tell me where I can read up on this stuff would much appreciate it.

MB

Didn't Dave Godin, put pressure in the early days on what to release, remember reading that somewhere.

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Didn't Dave Godin, put pressure in the early days on what to release, remember reading that somewhere.

Yes, I'm sure he did - both before and after the Tamla Motown label was set up.

But who would have had the final say on matters of business strategy for Tamla Motown.

Was it the Motown execs in Detroit, or the EMI/TM execs in London (Manchester Square?)

It's probably obvious to people who know - but not me!!

MB

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I've read a fair few music books but I don't recall ever reading exactly how the business relationship between EMI and Motown actually worked.

At the simplest level who decided what (and when) was released on the Tamla Motown label?

Who controlled stuff like label and sleeve design?

Who designed and paid for other marketing stuff like advertising?

And what was the basic financial arrangement. Did EMI simply pay over a fixed amt per record sold?

Knowing the control that Berry liked to exert it is hard to imagine him handing over some of the "artistic" stuff. Or maybe he just had to trust that EMI knew their own marketplace.

If anyone can help or tell me where I can read up on this stuff would much appreciate it.

MB

Traditionally these label deals would work in 3 year terms with a 6 month sell-off. There would usually be a huge advance against royalties which would hopefully be recouped throughout the term by the sub-licensor (EMI in this case) ensuring that they 'worked' the label properly by gaining hits, organising Press, Promotion and PR, liasing with agents for tours and obviously Marketing, Distributing and selling the records.

In most of these companies there would generally be someone who had either the 'ears' or experience in working licensed product. In EMI's case they had a historical precedent with Stateside so they'd already demonstrated their expertise in working U.S. repertoire in the domestic market so the decision for Motown to go with EMI was undoubtably a smart one at the time.

In answer to the individual questions:-

At the simplest level who decided what (and when) was released on the Tamla Motown label?

This would be decided locally. It's always been accepted that different territories have different systems, different needs and different methods depending on the logistics of each territory, so the label manager would generally make those decisions. Bear in mind that EMI had a big advance to earn back so it was always in their interest to work the catalogue properly. EMI in those days was easily the safest set of hands in the UK (they had the Beatles - the biggest selling band in the world at the time) and their reputation was second to none. Sir Joseph Lockwood and Berry Gordy would have got along just fine since the UK would have been the biggest foreign territory for Motown and very much seen as the springboard to Europe and beyond.

Who controlled stuff like label and sleeve design?

EMI in consultation with Motown hence Tamla-Motown. In a country the size of the UK which had one of the healthiest record businesses in the world it was a doddle to distribute records in such a small territory and would have made more sense to keep a single label logo rather then several like the U.S. where sometimes it would take months to achieve a national breakout. Also the UK in the swinging 60's led the world in terms of certain expertise in Marketing, Fashion and Music so Berry would have assumed (quite rightly) that EMI knew what they were doing. In fact we were the first territory to take the Motown Sound to our collective bosom, so it made logistical sense to leave the Brits to it. Plus it paid off. I can remember seeing plenty of Motown acts on regular TV in the mid 60's whether they were on Ready Steady Go, the London Palladium or Top Of The Pops.

Who designed and paid for other marketing stuff like advertising?

EMI. I'm not sure whether this would have been recoupable or part of the general overhead cost. Tony Rounce may have some insight into this.

And what was the basic financial arrangement. Did EMI simply pay over a fixed amt per record sold?

Big advance at the beginning of each term with royalty accounting that would have run into several millions by the late 60's.

Knowing the control that Berry liked to exert it is hard to imagine him handing over some of the "artistic" stuff. Or maybe he just had to trust that EMI knew their own marketplace.

Berry would have trusted EMI to a large extent. They were arguably the best record company in the world at that point. Also don't forget that Berry had the foresight to set up Jobete Music (UK) Ltd as an independent Publishing entity in the UK, so he could moniter the record company via the UK Publishing company, so a perfect set-up in many ways.

I presume the bulk of the above is correct but if anyone can add anything then please feel free.

Ian D :D

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At the simplest level who decided what (and when) was released on the Tamla Motown label?

This would be decided locally. It's always been accepted that different territories have different systems, different needs and different methods depending on the logistics of each territory, so the label manager would generally make those decisions. Bear in mind that EMI had a big advance to earn back so it was always in their interest to work the catalogue properly. EMI in those days was easily the safest set of hands in the UK (they had the Beatles - the biggest selling band in the world at the time) and their reputation was second to none.

Ian D :D

Edited by chorleysoul

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At the simplest level who decided what (and when) was released on the Tamla Motown label?

This would be decided locally. It's always been accepted that different territories have different systems, different needs and different methods depending on the logistics of each territory, so the label manager would generally make those decisions. Bear in mind that EMI had a big advance to earn back so it was always in their interest to work the catalogue properly. EMI in those days was easily the safest set of hands in the UK (they had the Beatles - the biggest selling band in the world at the time) and their reputation was second to none.

Ian D biggrin.gif

Nice post, IAN. This site works in a great way when you get guys coming on with a hunger for knowledge and then somebody gives it to them like that.

I think THE BEATLES certainly were a significant part of the whole thing, too. Their impact on the states and as you outline, the UK Fashion/marketing/design boom that accompanied it was enormous and if you were BERRY GORDY and you saw how many units THE BEATLES were shifting across the pond, surely logic would automatically dictate you'd want a tie up for your artsists with their company in the UK?

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I think THE BEATLES certainly were a significant part of the whole thing, too.

There is an interesting anecdote in BG's autobiography (To Be Loved) which goes something like this.

One day Berry took a call from Brian Epstein who wanted to negotiate a royalty rate for the Motown songs he planned to include on the Beatles next L.P.

The standard rate was 2.5% and Epstein was offering 1.5%.

Berry was in a real quandary. He took all sorts of advice, finally conceded the importance of an association with the Beatles and accepted the 1.5%.

Less than 24 hours later the albums were in the shops.

He realised that the albums had been recorded and pressed before Epstein even made his phone call.

In other words he had been SHAFTED.

I'm sure he would have seen the funny side :hatsoff2::no:

MB

Edited by MBarrett

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On 17/03/2010 at 00:23, Ian Dewhirst said:

Brenda Holloway was even the warm-up on their Shea Stadium gig in '65 and subsequent tour along with Mary Wells I believe.

Ian D biggrin.gif

Ian

Mary Wells was support on Beatles tour of U.K. in 1964.

MB

gallery_6836_1066_16787.jpg

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There is an interesting anecdote in BG's autobiography (To Be Loved) which goes something like this.

One day Berry took a call from Brian Epstein who wanted to negotiate a royalty rate for the Motown songs he planned to include on the Beatles next L.P.

The standard rate was 2.5% and Epstein was offering 1.5%.

Berry was in a real quandary. He took all sorts of advice, finally conceded the importance of an association with the Beatles and accepted the 1.5%.

Less than 24 hours later the albums were in the shops.

He realised that the albums had been recorded and pressed before Epstein even made his phone call.

In other words he had been SHAFTED.

I'm sure he would have seen the funny side :hatsoff2::no:

MB

Pretty good description by Ian there.

Rouncey told me a story that John Abbey had told him whilst he was at Stateside that for every big seller that they had, they would add an obscure favourite to the release schedule, hence the UK release of things such as Eddie Jefferson's Goldwax single.

Trevor Churchill one of the owners of Ace Records would know more than anyone as he worked at EMI for Bell in the late 60s and was responsible for the Cellar Of Soul compilations. He was also I think responsible for the three tier system of releases of Bell/ Amy material in the UK in the late 60s, where Bell would release the most viable records, then Action would get the next go and then finally Pama would get to chose stuff at the end of the day.

I do think that Berry Gordy's story is liable to be untrue as Brian Epstein would have had no need to phone BG to secure the rights to use the Motown songs. This is a US way of operating and the records were released in the UK a year before they were in the US.

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Initially issuing records in the UK on the London American, Fontana, Oriole and Stateside labels, Tamla Motown was established in 1965 thanks to lobbying from the Tamla-Motown Appreciation Society head, Dave Godin (who’d later coin the term Northern soul). The label began releasing music from imprints including Tamla, Motown, Gordy, Soul and V.I.P. Its popularity was helped by the legendary ‘Motown Revue’ tour that year, which brought The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Martha & The Vandellas and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles to UK shores.

Motown.jpg

Edited by Blackpoolsoul

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One thing I do know with regard to this topic ...   most folk @ Motown in Detroit quickly acknowledged that the way they got their product out around much of the world in the 60's was via what they called 'The British Connection'. They were really pleased with the link & the fact it had such a far reach.

To be honest, more than it being 'The British Connection' it was really 'the EMI connection'. EMI's global reach meant that Motown tracks that did well in the UK would soon be released in places like Australia, N Zealand, Sth Africa, India, Pakistan, large areas of Europe, the Caribbean, etc. etc.

Berry wasn't daft, I'm sure EMI's massive reach across the globe was appreciated by him & that must have factored into his (the companies) decision to remain with EMI as their partner for so many years. 

This old ad (from 67) relates directly to EMI & Capitol Records, but it remains almost the same for the Motown connection ....     

EMICapitolWorldwide67.jpg

Edited by Roburt

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I believe that Dave Godin chose the Tamla Motown name ,simply writing the various label names that Gordy owned ,VIP ,Soul ,Gordy ,Tamla ,etc and seeing which ones looked best as an umbrella name for the catalogue .It could easily have been another name entirely I guess .

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Dave told us he remained a Director of UK Tamla Motown throughout the sixties - though he only took a peppercorn salary. 

As regards 'putting pressure on' he only told us that he did that with Atlantic to get Barbara Lynn and Loretta Williams released (his championing of BL was why she was so eager to meet him at the Cala Gran and why he introduced her on stage), there were others - about half a dozen, but I forget which - apparently Atlantic didn't even know they had the rights to them at the time.

Dx

Edited by DaveNPete

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