This year’s Music Futures Conference was an outstanding success with over 250 in attendance to hear the view and insights of some of the biggest names in the music and technology sectors converging on Gateshead.
As part of Tony Wadsworth’s upbeat Keynote address he pointed out the necessity to keep the label at the heart of the UK music industry which is the second biggest exporter of music in the world generating 3.5 billion pounds globally.
“Labels are the engine room, the major investors in talent, with money and resources and skills and relationships. But the total pie that we are all sharing is smaller at the moment. That’s why royalty cheques are smaller – not because the labels are spending it all on champagne and caviar”.
As a great believer in the label he continued “The traditional and old fashioned unique selling point of record labels used to be that they were the only people that could get your music out there – they were the exclusive gate keepers. But today, in order to justify their existence, they have to do a whole lot more – and do it a whole lot better. Otherwise – we would all just do it ourselves”.
Discussing the growth of technology Tony commented “Creative content, especially music, drives technology growth, but without support, investment and protection, it will suffer and the industries that depend on it will suffer and that includes technology”.
Retaining a grip on rights ownership was key “During the last decade, much of my time as Chairman of BPI was taken up in persuading and convincing government and legislators, that the shiny new technology companies and the internet service providers, worth billions, should have a share in the responsibility of preventing mass larceny of creative content on the internet”.
Discussing streaming services Tony highlighted the re-calibration of tiered payments: ”The topical challenge is, how much value you give to the ad supported streaming subscriber, who pays nothing to listen, compared to the premium subscriber who pays monthly for the service? We need to give better value to those who pay, but we need to differentiate the service, so that inevitably the ad supported consumer doesn’t get the same access”.
After a comprehensive roll-out of statistical data in support of the industry Tony justifiably embellished, “I am a great believer in the future of our industry – there has never been more demand for our product and there has never been more ways available to the music fan to consume the music that we produce. But the final piece in the jigsaw is that we can now see more ways than ever to monetise this demand”.
In concluding he said: “This really is just the beginning, but the advent of a fully connected world will start to see a more robust and continuous return to growth, new technology brings new challenges and we need to work through them”.
“It is more important now than at any other time, that the artist community and labels work together in a collaborative and collegiate way, and that means that everyone involved in the creation of music need to feel that they understand this new economy and the deals within it – because mystery leads to lack of trust, and the feeling that you’re being ripped off”.
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