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ASCAP Expo Wrap Up: Business And Creative Communities Close Conference

ASCAP Expo: The Hot Topic is the Future

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By Geoff Nudelman of Telos Studios.

For the songwriters, composers, and producers in attendance, the Expo’s second day took a bigger focus on the future of the business from a variety of perspectives.

Ken Jordan of The Crystal Method and RJD2 opened the day with a very technical conversation about how the quality of music has changed over the last 10-15 years. “The barrier to entry is now low, and that’s exciting, but when big studios close down, the quality of the music suffers,” RJ said. “That’s a problem to me.” Jordan added that the old studios have priced themselves too high and “out of existence.”

“The price of making a record has dropped from $300,000 to $30,000,” he said.

A solid lineup of music supervisors reiterated the power of YouTube, Soundcloud, and the blogosphere in a panel entitled “Music Supervision in the Digital Age.” Elias Arts music supervisor and KCRW host Jason Kramer used Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna as a case study about how it’s done in today’s music business. The artist, who hasn’t had much charted success, has over 800,000 Twitter followers and built a brand for herself based on a strong connection between her music and her signature fashion.

The panel as a whole heavily endorsed the future of pitching one’s work for placement within Multi Channel Networks (MCNs) that develop content for a variety of online outlets like Maker Studio, Giant, FullScreen, Big Frame, DanceOn, and Alloy Digital.

Perhaps the liveliest presentation of the day was an interactive tutorial on copyright law from Corey Field, an attorney at Ballard Spahr LLP. He had a series of cards given to the audience to break down the copyright and royalty collection process into single steps. The presentation culminated in a shouting match between opposite sides of the room to illustrate how songwriters and record companies compete for royalties in what Field called a “cacophony.” He said it was a true representation of how complex it can be for a singer, songwriter, producer, or artist to collect his/her share of a song’s revenue.

The idea of “music discovery” came up yesterday. The overwhelming opinion is that for a songwriter, it’s YouTube, Soundcloud, or another aggregated online outlet and that the kids are in control now. “It’s almost expected that (kids) are listening to everything these days,” RJ said. The group of music supervisors noted that there are more ways than ever before that they’re discovering new music and having persistence is key to getting the right people to listen to an artist’s music. “Be succinct, be passionate, be honest,” Nike Music and Creative Licensing Manager JT Griffith said.

The Expo concludes today with a lineup of business panels and Bandzoogle’s “Website Demolition Derby.”