Mike Alexander in the Sunday Star Times reports that Arch Hill Recordings' boss Ben Howe is "set to be a major player in Flying Nun's future... [and] Roger Shepherd will be involved in the running of the label..." Howe says the rumours that the label is in financial trouble and about to fall over again are not true.
This interesting development comes on the back of a new share issue in mid July (according to Companies Office records), which indicates a fresh influx of cash to Flying Nun from its shareholders, including Neil and Sharon Finn, and Graham Cockroft (ex Netherworld Dancing Toys). Cockroft was also a director of Flying Nun, along with Roger Shepherd, but was taken off as director in April 2012.
(UPDATED 18 Sept - the Companies Office website records that Cockroft has been reappointed as director on 27 Aug 2012, notice registered on 17 Sept, 2012. Cockroft is currently Contact Energy's Chief Financial Officer, a role he's held since June 2012. Prior to this he was their Chief Operating Officer for 3 years).
Contrast this with early 2010, when Ben Howe wrote a pointed commentary on the Arch Hill website (post now deleted) talking about how he had worked closely with Flying Nuns' Roger Shepherd for several years on the Flying Nun deal, only to get pushed out at the last minute. Some of that post is viewable here.
Shepherd told Salient magazine in March 2010 that ".. it was very hard, but [Howe] didn’t have the money, we weren’t going to be able to raise the money. It was unfortunate, and maybe I managed it really badly, but I just had to do what I had to do, really. I’m not happy about it, but it just got too difficult.”
The share allocation has changed twice since Flying Nun reignited in 2009, indicating several infusions of money - while Shepherd retains 100 shares, the other three shareholding parties have had their allocation increased, first on 10 October 2011 from 100 to 178, and again recently on 19 July 2012, from 178 to 291. The latest shares were issued on 8 June and registered on 19 July.
When Shepherd started the label in1981, three years into their existence the label had achieved critical and commercial success, with the likes of the Clean and the Chills, to name but a few. Three years on since Shepherd reclaimed the label in 2009, and their successes have been mainly critical ones, and no major commercial success. They have also lost some of their new signings, like Die Die Die.
Background: Flying Nun shareholders are? (Feb 2010 post)
ADDED: Interesting piece from Andrew Schmidt: "Change needed at Flying Nun..."
UPDATED Sept 19 - Flying Nun have announced on their website that Ben Howe is now general manager, and the label will move to Auckland...
"... The head office will now be located in Auckland, alongside Arch Hill Recordings. Ben Howe (from Arch Hill) will become general manager, Roger Shepherd will work as a consultant and shareholder (based in Wellington) and Matthew Davis will move to Auckland to carry on as the local label manager.
In the current environment it makes sense for labels and independent music businesses to consolidate and share resources. In order to succeed we must keep the focus on working with great bands, making sure they are properly looked after and taking them to the world. We think this is the future for Flying Nun - from vinyl through to online."
UPDATED 29 Sept - Ben Howe appeared on Media3 on TV3 this morning (watch here), he told host Russell Brown that he started talking with Neil Finn (FNun shareholder) when the two of them were sitting together on a flight to Australia last year, when Finn's band was playing Laneway Festival (Howe is co-promoter in NZ of Laneway).
Ben says that conversation continued, then later Roger became involved, and Ben put a proposal to them about some ideas. He point out that consolidating operations when the music industry is in tough times makes sense, and that the music industry is based in Auckland and it's a lot easier to get things done.
Ben also notes that Flying Nun is doing quite well in the US, and he has been there a lot with Arch Hill acts like Streetchant and Surf City, so it make sense for him to work both labels while there. He also reveals there's now a contract with The Chills, and is looking forward to working with them.