After he managed bands for just £5 a week, Nick Dunn’s company turns over £1m plus
By J.A Leah
Nick Dunn can look back on a series of events – some might call them setbacks – in his life which, though he didn’t realise it at the time, were inexorably to lead him to launching his own successful global music business.
Horus Music, the fully independent digital music distribution and label services company which last year celebrated its 10th birthday, has just won the Queen’s Award for International Trade having established a division in India and is on the verge of moving into China.
The company electronically distributes artists’ recordings free – taking only a commission on sales – through links to more than 800 download, streaming and interactive radio platforms around the world. As such, it achieved 180% growth in the three years leading up to 2016 and last year doubled its turnover to in excess of £1m.
It offers a simple solution for any artist to get their music out to the widest possible audience while collecting all possible revenues from the use or sale of their work.
Yet none of this would have been achieved if Nick Dunn’s eventual successful venture had not been shaped by his previous experiences.
A musician – he plays both the trumpet and the piano, as well as holding a Masters in Conducting – he felt a career on the stage was not for him.
So while he was waiting to find one that was, he took a series of casual jobs including assistant housing officer for Birmingham Council. While he was there, he decided that artist management might well provide the answer, so attended a European funded course run to learn the basics of business.
This led to him handling two rock groups – The Juliana Down and Latonic – both now disbanded. He got them gigs only to find there was literally no money in it.“When you end up with £5 for a week’s work, you realise that,” Nick recalls.
He then decided the answer might lie in becoming a record label and managed to scrape enough money together to pay for the processing of two albums. Now what he needed was to distribute them.
However distributors were not keen on giving a contract to a label that only had a couple of CDs. And even electronic distributors such as iTunes did not welcome him with open arms, insisting he buy an Apple Mac to upload when he couldn’t afford one.
But even after he had founded Horus Music, it wasn’t all easy going – losing some £40,000 in the first year and taking some five years before finally breaking even.
The first breakthrough came with a deal involving Gotham Records, a personal contact, which led to a slow build through word of mouth. Today though he has more than 1,000 artists on his books and has even distributed a charity single featuring Mick Jagger.
“I learned a lot of lessons over the years about the problems artists face in reaching an audience,” says Nick “And Horus Music provides the answers.”