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BMG Chrysalis’ office space grand designs helped the bottom line

TALENTED AND INNOVATIVE PEOPLE need an attractive place to work. Our office is more than a space – it has been integral to the company’s development, both reflecting our culture and engaging our people.

Since its founding in 2008, BMG has established a presence in eight core music markets and represents the rights of more than one million songs and recordings, including a catalogue of prominent artists and songwriters including Rizzle Kicks, Will.i.am, Bruno Mars and Cee Lo Green. BMG is very much a start-up, even though we are already the fourth-biggest music publisher in the world. Although BMG is the overall brand, we trade under the name BMG Chrysalis in the UK, the US and Sweden following the acquisition of Chrysalis.

But why move offices? When BMG bought Chrysalis in February 2011, BMG’s UK office was in London’s Soho, while Chrysalis was in an old brewery in Shepherd’s Bush. It was essential to bring them together to start building the new BMG Chrysalis. We found an amazing Grade II listed building in Wigmore Street, London, which had previously housed one of the UK’s first department stores.

Having found the right space, we needed someone to turn it into something we could use. The brief was to maintain a clear BMG corporate identity, while also making it an exciting creative workspace. One challenge was selling the move to the Chrysalis guys. They loved their old building – they’d been there for 20 years, after all. Why would they want to change?

We decided the process of creating the new office should embody the collaborative new BMG Chrysalis culture we were trying to create, so I led a team, drawn from our two existing sites, that would work with outside consultants Peldon Rose. Staff from BMG and Chrysalis would help shape the new BMG Chrysalis office. In a series of project meetings, we thrashed it all out. I am glad to say that what we ended up with has delivered on every level.

BMG’s values are very much focused on transparency and teamwork. As you would expect, the emphasis is on open-plan working and lots of glass. Where individual offices are essential – for example for the artists and repertoire team which scouts and works with artists – we have given people leeway to design their own space, with the only rule being that desks have to be the standard white. Naturally, music is everywhere, playing at the reception and represented in disc form on the ceiling – and there is music memorabilia and decorations.

To the rear of the office is a design-led breakout area with Wi-Fi, an incorporated bar, table football and relaxed furniture. An overall colour pallet of grey and red – reflecting BMG’s corporate livery – is prominent. By definition, you have to be flexible in the music industry, so we have had to come up with a space that can handle a drinks reception for songwriters as easily as it can an international board meeting.

Putting a cash value on design is difficult, but the benefits in terms of staff morale, in aiding our relationships with artists and in helping facilitate a new working culture have been significant. The change to an open-plan environment in which departments sit side by side has not only aided internal communication, it has proved to be a powerful demonstration to visiting artists and songwriters that we are what we say we are – a modern alternative to the traditional music companies. The enthusiasm and the commitment of the BMG team is clear for them to see.

Our only problem now is space. BMG continues to grow rapidly and that inevitably means more staff. But in a world in which the shrinkage of some of the big, long-established music companies continues to make headlines, that’s not a bad problem to have. ?

Mark Ranyard is CFO of BMG Chrysalis UK. The company worked with Peldon Rose on the design of its new office space 

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