Our Virtual Panel Looks Back At 2014: Cortney Harding of Muzooka
Cortney Harding, strategist at Muzooka and co-host of Hypebot.com's Upward Spiral Podcast will be kicking off the 2014 Hypebot.com Year End Virtual Panel. "Much like cab drivers love to whine about Uber when they should be thinking about how to survive when driverless cars hit the road, the Taylor Swift vs Spotify dustup is a short term distraction to a much bigger disruption." Continue reading to hear more from Cortney on what 2014 meant for the music industry.
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?
Much like cab drivers love to whine about Uber when they should be thinking about how to survive when driverless cars hit the road, the Taylor Swift vs Spotify dustup is a short term distraction to a much bigger disruption — the way we consume music is going to fundamentally shift in the coming years. The millennial mantra is "consumption on demand and without apology," and while someone like Taylor Swift might be the exception to that, most of the time if something isn't readily available in the format kids want it in at the exact moment, they'll just go listen to or do something else. Streaming is going to penetrate by 2018, according to some estimates, and then it's going to go the way of the cassette.
2) How important are the entry of YouTube Music Key and the expansion of Beats Music within the Apple eco-system?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?
I was on the phone with someone this morning and I said "when YouTube launches their music service…" because I literally forgot MusicKey launched. We'll have to wait and see because I'm not the YouTube target audience, but I am curious to see what the numbers look like. As for Beats, that deal continues to baffle me, but Tim Cook etc are worth billions and I'm not, so clearly they know something I don't. Again, estimates say that streaming will continue to grow and it's already penetrated the Nordic markets, so I think more options will mean more users.
All this focus on streaming presupposes that people want to hear full tracks in a certain format, and maybe they don't. Maybe everyone wants to hear music as a six-second clip in the back of a Vine video. Maybe most people are happy to hear it in the background at the drugstore. Maybe people don't care about listening at home and just want a live experience, which is largely the case in EDM.
3) What was the big shift or story of 2014 that will have a major effect on your business/sector in 2015?
2014 felt like a really transitional year for me. Taylor Swift's sales felt like the last gasp of something, and is really emblematic of the 1%/99% divide among artists. On one hand, you have Swift and Beyonce and a few others raking in all the cash, and then this vast group of artists who range from "doing pretty well" to "struggling to survive." It feels like we're all treading water and waiting for the market to shift in a meaningful way.
The biggest problem is that we keep getting sidetracked by silly debates and caught up in covering stuff that's breaking that we don't ever get to think about long term strategy and what comes next.