Indie Music

Interview: Griff Morris, X5 Music’s Chief Content Officer, North America

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Today the X5 Music Group confirmed licensing deals with three top independent label groups  Cooking Vinyl, Welk Music Group and OneRPM. We interviewed Griff Morris, X5 Music's Chief Content Officer, North America to understand the significance of the deals and learn more about X5's unique marketing and sales model.

HYPEBOT: The partners you announced today have had digital distribution for some time. Am I correct that the new deals are primarily for the kind of compilations you’re known for, or are you handling all digital distribution for them?

MORRIS: The deals we are announcing are limited to the licenses for X5 to produce compilations and do not include digital distribution in the more traditional sense. Although X5 offers digital distribution it is not the current focus of our business development efforts, some labels are asking us to add this right to our current offering, and it is quite possible that we will do so for more labels in the future.

MORRIS: Can you explain a bit about the value that X5’s technology and strategy brings to labels?

X5's main business is producing and distributing compilations, and as a result the company has become very smart and effective when it comes to the licensing, manufacturing, distributing, marketing, and selling of those recordings. Each of these areas of the business is highly developed and recently built and it is a huge competitive advantage. A label or distributor that prioritizes physical releases has many systems and processes geared around those products.

But, because X5 is almost exclusively digital-focused we think about digital opportunities almost exclusively, so we are able to maximize them more effectively. We don't waste a lot time trying to sell plastic in other words. And, as with any company in most industries, that focus and expertise is cyclical in the sense that the more experience the company has the better it becomes.

X5 has built a unique and highly successful model that continues to become smarter and more effective. We are very quickly building a base of success and revenue growth. To put it simply, the more album releases the label has, the more it is learning about what customers enjoy and  purchase, as well as which products work best with which retailer. That information is fed back into the business intelligence systems, analyzed, and then acted upon. It is a terrific, fast-moving company that is focused on an important part of our business in a way that many companies just haven't mastered.

HYPEBOT: Many tracks at a low price has been essential to your strategy. With classical, folk and jazz releases, you’ve had few song licensing costs, but that’s not the case with these new label deals.  How will these compilations be priced and how does that change your marketing strategy?

We try to be smart about the pricing strategy for each release, but we are also smart enough not to rely solely on price as a strategy. It is one of several key elements and definitely one that should be analyzed and tweaked for each release during the life-cycle of the product. So, the best pricing strategy is one works as part of a greater non-pricing strategy for that release, and also as part of a complex Catalog-wide strategy for all titles.

The goal is definitely to maximize revenue for each title and for the Catalog as a whole. Promotions by retailers that involve low-price are just a small part of the strategic plan toward that goal but we will continue to analyze their success and support them when we feel it helps us grow revenue.

More: X5 Music Confirms Licensing Deals With Cooking Vinyl, Welk Music Group & OneRPM

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