26th November 2020Q&A with Robert Fowler, Head of Music Audits – Forensic

This month saw Robert Fowler join the HW Fisher team to help expand our music royalty audit offering, a sector that has increased in demand this year, as touring income has declined for the industry. Robert’s experience includes working globally with high profile recording artists and songwriters throughout Europe, the USA, Japan, Russia, and China. He has also conducted audits on behalf of record labels and music publishers for distribution, sub-publishing, and licensing agreements. Read our Q&A to find out more about Robert and how he could help your business.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your career so far?

For the most part, my career has always had a music royalty angle. I worked at two major record labels for 10 years and then switched sides to royalty audit; mainly working for recording artists & songwriters. I’ve been lucky to work for some very big names who can command very different accounting models.

The last few years I’ve been undertaking many valuations in relation to music catalogue acquisitions. With the continued growth in music streaming and the current low interest rates, more and more investors (many from outside of the industry) are buying into music. The current prices for well-established catalogues are at an all-time high and I don’t see any sign of this levelling off.  My knowledge and experiences of the life cycle of music has positioned me in a great place for this type of work.

Covid-19 has obviously been a big challenge for businesses across all industries. What is one piece of advice you would give to businesses in the music industry at this time?

More and more facets of the music industry are now dealing with the effects (and knock on effects) of the lack of live touring. Not only has this affected the musicians, crew, agents, promoters, venues etc but also the tour accountants, song writers and music publishers. The reduction in performance royalty earnings (live and non-live) is only just emerging.

Most music accounting firms are trying hard to hold on to staff, there is a lot of specialist expertise that would be lost if they moved on. However, everyone is poised for touring to restart, with most live venues already fully booked as far as 2022. So, firms need to hang on in there ready for the day we can all go listen to live music again.

Do you have a particular career highlight you could share with us so far?

Day one of a royalty audit and finding over £1m for my client within a few hours of being on-site. It’s always a good start to an assignment and I’m still constantly surprised at what can be found on a royalty audit after doing it for so long

On one assignment in Los Angeles I was invited to a music festival in San Diego and watched a Muse show from the stage side wings. The feeling of the crowd was immense and something I will never forget.

What are your goals at HW Fisher over the next 12 months?

Having worked with the team in the Forensic department previously I already know how respected the team is within the merchandising and TV industry. I look forward to working with them to raise the profile of their work in the music industry too.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Never assume’. Which is particularly relevant in the royalty audit field!

 Do you have a favourite song or artist?

I grew up in a family hooked on Prince and I guess that’s never changed

Contact Robert for any queries or if there is any thing we can do to support you and your business by emailing rfowler@hwfisher.co.uk

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Robert Fowler
Director - Forensic

(0)20 7874 1181
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