Music Ally held an end of year gathering discussing what's ahead for the UK music industry in 2013. The gathering included a panel discussion with individuals from such companies and organizations as Universal Music, the Featured Artists Coalition and Seatwave representing multiple sectors of the industry. They shared a variety of insights into the days ahead.
Music Ally's 2013: A Survival Guide included:
"Francis Keeling, Universal Music's global head of digital business; Crispin Hunt, co-CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition; Joe Cohen, CEO of ticketing firm Seatwave; Karen Piper, Columbia Records' head of digital marketing; and Steve Purdham, boss of we7."
A recurring theme was of an ever deeper immersion in an environment of total access to music via various gadgets and screens with mobile as a growing aspect of that immersion. Francis Keeling, Universal Music's global head of digital business, pointed to tablets and mobile apps as key elements in future music consumption:
"You've got the ability to listen, but at the same time to be curating, and building. The tablet can give you a much more immersive experience of music."
"Consumers will subscribe to certain services, but I think often their consumption will be through third-party apps."
"Keeling cited SpotOn Radio as a good example: an app that requires users to have a Spotify subscription, but which delivers personal radio features beyond the main service."
Crispin Hunt, co-CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition:
"One of the things I'd like to see is that artists are included in the discussions and debates that are going on with our future and our work...Artists have always been at the forefront. We were the first ones to start setting up websites and flogging stuff ourselves. It's now very important that the industry deals with us transparently, and then we'll be able to get behind it.
Hunt also referred to the Global Repertoire Database [which describes its mission as providing "for the first time, a single, comprehensive and authoritative representation of the global ownership and control of musical works"] as a:
"'fantastic possibility', while also predicting that as licensing is made easier through one-stop shop type services 'the entire culture of the internet would change, because at the moment it's so complicated.'"
Direct-to-consumer (D2C) was an important point of discussion. Joe Cohen, CEO of ticketing firm Seatwave:
"talked about a London startup called BuddyBounce, which helps artists track their fans and superfans activities across various social networks, and reward them. 'You're going to take that notion of D2C and expand it...We'll be able to see all kinds of different activity and reward all kinds of different activity across platforms.'"
Crispin Hunt believes D2C is:
"incredibly important for new artists… It's the way they now build a fanbase...Also, I've got friends who run a company called AWAL who put out Portishead's last record. So for artists who've got a large fanbase and want to keep their career going, they can go somewhere like that."
A recurring theme was the move towards ad-based business models for supporting music everywhere. Keeling addressed the relationship of the music industry to Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon in relationship to this shift:
"As we move more towards an ad-funded consumption of music environment, then Facebook and Google get far more out of music [than do Apple and Amazon]...that the[n] brings them far more closer to everything we're doing."
Mobile apps and devices, direct-to-consumer, ad-supported music, easier licensing, a need for transparency and shifting relationships with the big web services seem like solid bets for the near-future of the industry.
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/App.net) blogs about music crowdfunding at Crowdfunding For Musicians (@CrowdfundingM). To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.