Gregory Butler, WholeWorldBand Managing Director, North America Looks Back on 2014
WholeWorldBand Managing Director, North America Gregory Butler is up next on Hypebot.com's year end virtual panel. "We have enough data to show that people believe music has value – more options for people to choose how music can be devalued isn't exactly positive. I'm not specifically saying the options mentioned are positive or negative, but until a fair, multilateral system exists for streaming, every option is suspect." Find out more about Gregory Butler's position on where music streaming is headed below.
1. Do you see the current debate questioning the effect of ubiquitous free music online leading to real change? Or is the Taylor Swift debate just a short term distraction?
Taylor Swift is arguably the biggest artist in the world right now, and the system she is attacking is hardly entrenched, so that means her stance does have the ability to make a difference where others haven't. Spotify has been damaged by this, even if it doesn't appear that way from the outside – but is that change, or just the ebb and flow of business? Transparency in the process and the rights holders having a say is the only true measure we should be looking for as a marker of change. There is a reason why articles, from Wired to the Los Angeles Times, are being written about WholeWorldBand - you have to change the approach, not just the delivery method or URL.
2. How important are the entry of YouTube Music Key and the expansion of Beats Music within the Apple ecosystem? And will they lead to a much larger streaming music audience by the end of 2015; or a just fragment a steadily expanding user base?
Streaming is going to grow, that isn't a question, and by default, there will be further fragmentation in the short term because the new players are substantially equipped to be in the space. With regards to importance, if we are looking for positive growth for the music industry, for equity for artists/creators, for transparency in business practice – it would seem to be naive to believe it's going to come from Google or Apple, as they seemingly don't benefit from that sort of change. We have enough data to show that people believe music has value – more options for people to choose how music can be devalued isn't exactly positive. I'm not specifically saying the options mentioned are positive or negative, but until a fair, multilateral system exists for streaming, every option is suspect.
3. What was the big shift or story of 2014 that will have a major effect on your business/sector in 2015?
There have been many stories, from the fight over Net Neutrality to the various battles over streaming, but the legal upheaval regarding the Consent Decree is going to shake the music industry to its core. I believe although it may not directly impact our actions at WholeWorldBand (since we allow the creators, artists and musicians to participate in the process), it is part of a larger rethinking of music and the approach to rights management, which ultimately impacts every musician and associated business. That reassessment process affects WholeWorldBand greatly, as our model is unique and inclusive, so the more attention people pay to their own rights and beliefs as creatives, the more attractive WholeWorldBand is.