Why mds is standing on its own
Article of Michael Petry, Magaging Director of Schott Music and mds
Schott was established in 1770, and as one of the oldest music publishers has always made every effort to provide the highest quality of service as well as the highest quality of product. Our quality consciousness always forces us to look for the best composers and authors to represent in the music and art market. These high standards have built on the foundations of the, already successful and expanding, business established in the 19th century.
The necessity of being close to the target market was realised with the formation of Schott publishing houses in Antwerp (1823), Paris (1826), Brussels (1830), London (1835), Leipzig (1840) and later on in Sydney and Melbourne. Today the company has centres in Madrid, New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Toronto and Zurich with more than 260 employees worldwide.
Our wide product range is created from all of the major publishing genres: concert, opera, media (copyrights, music library and performances), printing (sheet music, books, multimedia), magazines as well as sound and electronic data carriers (through our companies Wergo, Intuition, Tuition). In addition to this we have always provided services for other publishers. We run a modern lending library; the Schott subsidiary Wega GmbH undertakes all production work of printed products; copyrights are managed and IT solutions are worked out; book-keeping including annual accounts is done; and we sell printed products. These services are not just available for ourselves but for our customers too. Here it becomes obvious that the traditional market situation of a company, competitors and customers is redundant, as competitors and customers can be quite alike and require similar services.
A very good example of this is the printing business. Our marketing and sales efforts are concentrated on selling our own products. The products sold are sheet music, books, DVDs etc. We have also, however, undertaken sales and distribution for other publishers. In the past, the terms sales and distribution have been used as a synonym. On closer examination it becomes apparent that this is not the case. Product distribution is a logistical service and requires that the term ’customer’ has to be widened to encompass this new view-point: The individual publisher as customer asks the distributor for storage of his catalogue and to deliver the product upon requested to another customer, the dealer. With its services rendered the distributor serves as a bridge between publisher and trade.
It was inevitable that the distribution arm of Schott had to become more independent to generate better customer relations. Customer value strategy, quality and internationalisation are still today the important cornerstones of Schott strategy, which apply equally to their distribution services. Internationalisation nowadays means offering customer-orientated services locally and administrative and logistical functions from a central base. For this reason in 2001 we decided to close our UK distribution service, but to retain the customer service-centre for MDS Ltd. in Ashford, Kent. All logistical services have now been centralised in Mainz, Germany. Of prime importance in making this decision was the achievement of synergies facilitating unnecessary expenditure which enabled the freedom to develop new services for publishers and trade.
In 2004 the distribution arm of Schott was completely separated and became mds (music distribution services gmbh). The use of the original (MDS) name of our UK distribution service was decided upon for good reason. The name mds emphasises the international orientation of the company. mds aims to become the central European distribution service for music publishers offering a maximum level of service to the both publishing houses and the trade.
Relevant cost advantages can be made for all our customers through using our services. New products such as the B2B website www.mds-partner.com are developed and the range of goods is constantly being widened with additional products, for example Vienna World and the composers’ wine edition.
Altogether, to separate mds has proved successful in the first year. We will continue to outline which services are offered by mds and which products are sold by Schott. The personnel are: Andreas Pawlenka, General Manager, is the overall head of mds; Susanne Hain, Head of Sales Department, is responsible for the sales areas in Central Europe and the USA; She is supported by Bernhard Müller, International Sales Manager, his responsibilities are for the sales of publishers not belonging to the Schott group as well as for export; Roberto Garcia, Sales Manager for the Commonwealth Countries and the Far East, is based in our London offices. With this segregation of duties we are superbly ready to face the challenges of the next years.