Media Headliner: Jagger feels at home with Naked's 'can do' guys

The former music supremo reveals why he feels Naked Ventures is like the early days of the Ministry of Sound.

Links between the advertising and entertainment and music industries are not exactly unheard of. Yet, Naked Communications deserves extra rock 'n' roll points for hiring somebody called Jagger to head its new Naked Ventures division.

Matt Jagger, who is no direct relation to the gurning Rolling Stones frontman, comes to Naked with an impeccable music industry track record. A former director and vice-president of Universal Music, he has joined Naked to help it to develop content links with the music and broader entertainment industry. He will also work on monetising Naked's own intellectual property ideas.

Naked is not the first to make such an appointment. WPP's Group M and MindShare, for instance, have already made great inroads in this area - hiring TV programmers and music industry figures to work in their recently created entertainment division. Kate Marsh, the head of Group M's entertainment division in Europe, joined from Sky in Italy last year.

Yet the hiring of Jagger is another sign that Naked is serious about expanding its revenue streams and is keen to receive payment for any content ideas that do take off. Naked Ventures, which will be a Naked-owned entity with Jagger having a significant shareholding, follows the recent launch of Naked Numbers, a data and analytics business, as the latest in Naked's pursuit of a broader product offering.

Jagger's appointment came about because he knew Chris Green, Naked's UK managing director. Jagger was feeling frustrated at the constraining nature of the record industry model, and Naked was looking at ways to formalise its activity in the area of content. Green says: "Matt felt we had a good model and greater flexibility than he was used to. From our point of view, we were developing a wealth of ideas, but not necessarily finding a home or a client for them. It's about making better use of our intellectual property and, while we already broker brand partnerships for our clients, making this a more integrated part of our offer."

Naked Ventures will be a global proposition, although Jagger will be based in the UK. His first project will be run out of Naked's offices in New York. So what will Jagger bring to the table?

"He has a background as an intellectual property lawyer and applies legal rigour to everything he does," Green says. "He has always had an entrepreneurial approach."

Combined with the legal background, Jagger also has extensive experience of the talent side of the record business. He started off as a DJ, and the early part of his career involved managing the first wave of "superstar" DJs (Sasha, Carl Cox and John Digweed).

He had also handled the legal work for the Ministry of Sound nightclub, and when it decided to branch off into the record market, he was made its first managing director. This was 1998, a period when dance music was in the ascendancy and, to put it mildly, the Ministry label did well: growing to become the largest independent record company in Europe.

Jagger's success grabbed the attention of the major record companies, and in 2002 he joined Universal Music as a UK director. He was then given the role of running its Mercury Records label, developing a strategy and signing, among other bands, Razorlight.

However, he says he was a "little bored, like I wasn't in the right job". He explains that he was neither an A&R (artists and repertoire) man nor a marketing man - the two essential roles for people in major record companies, so felt a little out of place. "I'm more strategic, entrepreneurial, a business grower," he explains.

He and a colleague, Rob Wells (the senior vice-president of digital at Universal), then looked into a new-media strategy for Universal, including the launch of an online singles label.

Called Apollo Digital, it was the online arm of a new label called Apollo, which launched with DJ Meck's Thunder In My Heart Again, a reworking of Leo Sayer's disco track from 1977. However, Jagger says: "It didn't quite get off the ground because they (Universal) were worrying so much about their traditional model."

This prompted Jagger to start considering a move into a different field. "I was bored, I wasn't using part of my brain and I saw how the world was going - I could see the growing importance of brand and communications channels, it was a vortex that was coming together," he says.

Jagger says that he will work on innovation within client briefs, and attempt to build partnerships with brand, music and entertainment companies. This will involve properties in music, television and across online and other new channels. He says it's too soon to talk about specific ideas or links with artists or properties.

"I come into it with the angle of 'how can we make money from this?' All I've ever done is make stuff and then sold it."

And Naked, he says, feels like a natural home to him because of its culture: "To me, the music business had become a hermetically sealed wonderland, where they thought they were all geniuses and everybody else was doing the boring stuff.

"At Naked, it feels like the Ministry of Sound used to feel. If we have an idea, we'll run with it. These guys are the 'can do' guys."

THE LOWDOWN
Age: 41
Lives: Notting Hill, West London
Family: Wife Claire, brand new son Thomas (three months) and elder son
Sam (eight) from previous marriage
Most treasured possession: Original US first pressing of the acid house
classic Your Love signed by its producer Frankie Knuckles!
Favourite film: La Reine Margot
Last book you read: I read two simultaneously! The History of The Middle
Sea, by John Julius Norwich (I'm a history geek!) and Adland, by Mark
Tungate (so I could speed learn the history of the business I'm joining)
Motto: Live free or die.

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).