‘Companies overlook niche markets. That is something we are starting to change.’
Martin Price’s introduction to the music business arrived in the Carribean, via New York City.
He was running restaurants in New York and was hired to open a bar on the Caribbean island of Roatán, situated around 40 miles from Honduras, with a population size of around 100,000.
“While there, I discovered Caribbean music, primarily Jamaican reggae and dancehall,” he tells us.
After living and working on the island for some time, he learned that Roatán had never hosted a concert by an international superstar artist.
“I thought it would be a good idea to host one,” he continues and explains that he set out to change that, eventually booking Shaggy to perform live on the island.
“It was an amazing show, and it’s been all about music ever since.”
Price went on to co-found Caribbean Entertainment and IAM Management, focusing his efforts on artist management and booking, and establishing himself as a Caribbean music industry expert in the process.
He was then hired to head up operations and A&R at ONErpm’s Kingston, Jamaica, office in 2018.
Now, as Head of Global Expansion at ONErpm, Price is charged with the independent artist and label service company’s efforts to grow its global footprint.
Nashville-headquartered ONErpm, founded 13 years ago by CEO Emmanuel Zunz, originally focused on Brazil as its initial target market.
ONErpm then expanded into Turkey and in 2020 opened an office in Lagos, Nigeria, under Price’s direction. In 2021, Osagie Osarenz was promoted to Director of African Operations at the company.
As part of ONErpm’s expansion effort, the company also recently opened six new offices in Asia, boosting the number of its offices globally to 43 in 28 territories, with a team exceeding 600 staff.
Price has opened, or been involved in opening 18 of those 43 offices in the last three years alone.
“What the company has managed to achieve, and the rate of expansion, is really quite impressive,” he says.
Here, Martin Price tells us more about ONerpm’s expansion strategy, and gives us his predictions for the global independent artist sector…
You co-founded Caribbean Entertainment and IAM Management – what advice would you give to an aspiring executive launching an entertainment company today?
Do your research, make sure you understand 100% what you are getting into, and be ready for the grind. At least in my experience, it’s never a smooth or easy process, and the early stages are typically tough, and certainly not glamourous.
You joined ONErpm in 2018 – what have been some of the biggest highlights for you over the past five years?
Honestly speaking, the entire ride has been a highlight for me. It was the “click” of finding what you were meant to do. That being said, I will say visiting each of the countries we now have offices in, for the first time, was a special thing for me.
Being there before anything had begun, [with a] blank slate, professionally speaking, and just admiring each country’s culture and getting to know the people was very meaningful.
Could you outline ONErpm’s global expansion strategy?
This is tough to answer, as we have never had a specific strategy. I think being too rigid, and saying “we will do this” and “we will do that” locks you in, and you miss out on opportunities.
I can say we do tend to lean towards emerging markets, and undervalued markets, as that is where we feel our services and tech, and our teams and the work they do, are most valued. We spend a lot of time teaching and educating where even the most basic knowledge is new and valuable.
What do you take into account when deciding to expand into a specific market?
The simple answer… Does the market need and/or want what ONErpm has to offer, and can/does ONErpm offer what the market wants or needs.
It sounds simple but there is a lot that goes into that answer, and a lot of on-the-ground research needs to be done to gather the data to answer that question, but once that data is collected, it becomes pretty easy.
In what markets are you seeing the most growth currently?
Jamaica, Africa, Turkey, Chile, and Argentina have been a few of our top performers and have all seen substantial growth year over year. From Kcee’s hit Ojapiano out of Nigeria, to having three songs in the Spotify Top 10 in Turkey for over two months (Uzi, Blok3, and Halodayi) and YsyA and Jere Klein’s success in Argentina and Chile respectively.
Which markets would you like to expand into next and why?
As we speak, we are building on our pre-existing office in Egypt, and pushing further into the Middle East, which is an exciting proposition. In addition to that, we are beginning our endeavor into the Nordics, with a strategic JV in Norway (soon to be announced).
How is ONErpm positioned in the wider global music industry today?
I think ONErpm is positioned in the best possible way globally today. We have best-in-class tech and transparency. We have scalable marketing tools. We have the freedom and benefit of adaptability.
We can change our deal structures and/or business models country to country, genre to genre, and provide a custom solution at the country, region, artist, and/or genre level.
We are one of the last truly independent music companies left, and I think artists appreciate being a part of something like that.
What are your predictions for the independent artist and label space over the next five years?
It will continue to grow. Artists and labels have a better understanding of the business of music every day. Artists are getting smarter. They don’t need to sign away their lives and their art for the sake of saying they are signed to a major label.
To get exposure in today’s market there is a lot of marketing that needs to happen by the artist just to grow their audience – this means artists are more savvy. They understand what their fans want and they want teams who are transparent with them for the pathway to their success. Independant music is the present and the future, in my opinion.
What does success look like to you?
It’s seeing growth. Growth in stature, reputation, streams, and revenue. It’s when you see your team work with an artist, and truly bring them to the next level. Maybe that is from unknown to known and doing small shows. Maybe that is from known to regional superstar. Maybe it’s from regional superstar to global star.
If there was one thing you would change about the global music business, what would it be and why?
The chase for commercial success. I think most companies overlook the “little guys” or the smaller markets, niche markets, etc. Everyone wants to focus on major markets, or markets they think will be the next big thing or the next big global hit. The small markets, and regional music, the non-exportable music get forgotten. That is something we are starting to change. We want to help bring amazing art to the world. We want to help people make a living off that art.Music Business Worldwide