Parlophone/Warner's Head of Research Jack Fryer Talks About Oystercatchers

Parlophone/Warner's Head of Research Jack Fryer Talks About Oystercatchers

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Videolink_Jack_FryerJack Fryer: So I suppose, historically, the record business has been quite introspective or even solipsistic in its view of the world. I think the main reason we engaged with Oystercatchers was to kind of breakthrough that and conduct a sort of 360° audit of all our relationships with all our third party stakeholders – ranging from artist management to internal executive interviews to retailers and to brand partners as well. And we found it an incredibly valuable process to go through.

Jack Fryer: I think the process was doubly important because we are in a business category that is undergoing a period of sustained and dramatic change. To put it simply, the record business isn’t what it was 5, 10, 15 years ago. It is today dramatically different. And secondly, because there was added weight in terms of the context of the business. So we were in the midst of a sale process and in fact halfway through this evaluation we were actually bought by the Universal Music group. So for us this took on a real pertinence. For us it became about interrogating all that is good, bad and indifferent about EMI music with a view to the short term and the long term future.

Jack Fryer: I think I was most impressed by, I think in a sense it is the nuance of the interpersonal and presentation skills of Oystercatchers in being able to position some pretty difficult messages in a palatable and a constructive way. I mean, for us, there are some aspects of the output which are difficult for our stakeholders to stomach. One area in particular, which I won’t go into. I think Suki in particular was very skilful and adept at positioning that in the right way so that we could really deliver the message in a constructive form.

Jack Fryer: My expectation was for reportage of the information, so I expected quotes and a basic kind of feedback style report. What we actually got was a far more consultative and forward facing. So it wasn’t just “here is what we heard,” it was “these are the implications for your business.” And that was great.

Jack Fryer: I think we have a number of things on the horizon. One would be to take the study internationally as EMI is a global business. I’ve already spoken to people in different markets about the possibility of doing a similar study locally, across Europe and maybe even America. And secondly, I think one or two kind of nubs of insight picking out merit deeper consideration and we may well do kind of a deeper dive into those two or three areas.

Jack Fryer: I think thinking about the next nine months for EMI, going into the sale process, there is no easy answer to this question. I suppose for us it is about clearly delineating what we can do in that time and be realistic and pragmatic about what we can do in that time. Picking our battles and trying to deliver tangible, quick wins firstly. And then secondly going into the merger so to speak, being clear on what our long-term vision is. I think Oystercatchers really helped the executive level kind of get our ducks in a row. So we were all kind of singing from the same hymn sheet going into Universal. I think that was really important. Kind of holding on to what we could have I guess because it gives us legitimised proof if you like that we are good at certain things and we should be proud of that.

Victoria Sinclair