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In our ongoing bid to put one of the mostdifficult decades in the music industry’s history behind us, we asked MIDEM(Net) Blog’s experts to answer the above questions. In this second of two parts, the IMMF’s Peter Jenner, Forrester’s Mark Mulligan and the Featured Artists’ Coalition’s Jeremy Silver share their thoughts.

You can also find these viewpoints – and much more besides – in the MIDEM Preview, online here… And read The View’s Phil Hardy’s (indirect) answer to our big questions here!

Peter Jenner: A Reflection on the European Reflection.

For the emeritus president of the International Music Managers’ Forum (IMMF), the industry’s salvation could be spurred on by an unlikely candidate: the EC…

We may all actually be on the brink of coming to terms with the digital revolution. There is a definition of madness, which revolves around people who do the same thing over and over with the same result, and, each time, expect the opposite to occur. Does this remind you of anyone or anybody you know when they talk about the ‘problem of piracy’ ?

But look here comes a saviour! Not an extraterrestrial saviour, but a highly unlikely figure emerging from the European Commission. The twin headed hydra of commissioners [Viviane] Reding and [Charlie] McCreevy give us a ‘Reflection’ where they lay out the problems of the digital distribution of content, and the dysfunctional way it is handled, and then come up with suggestions.

The analysis and suggestions are remarkably forward-thinking and sensible and have had me thinking that perhaps they did listen as I, and so many others, nagged away about the folly of the current major label approach to the internet, ‘piracy’ and the ‘crisis’. They are talking about ‘extended collective licensing’, about blanket licenses, about remuneration rights amongst other things. In short they seem to want to save the recorded music industry from itself, and give the public what they clearly want, while making sure the creators get paid.

Have I died and gone to heaven? Am I hallucinating? Have the bureaucrats seen what has been so obvious to so many of us, that digital distribution is a fundamentally different beast from traditional physical distribution, and that the legal solutions have to be equally different ? They are even floating the idea of a European Copyright Law for online licensing as a response to the chaos of the current online licensing regimes.

Read this press release, then look at the document and make up your own mind: http://ow.ly/H5oh

Mark Mulligan : Time to rebuild music products around convenience

For the vice president and research director at Forrester Research UK (twitter.com/Mark_Mulligan), the best way to fix the industry is ‘simply’ convenience…

The commercial album enters its 101st year with the CD on life support and the 99 cents download falling painfully short of picking up the slack. The iTunes Store was a useful transition technology, straddling the CD and digital eras, but now a process of radical music product innovation is required.  Just fixing how consumers pay (and indeed whether they pay at all) will simply be placing a band aid on a failing music product. To date digital music has focused on business models first and consumer experiences second. The time has come for that equation to be reversed.

A new generation of music products are required that are explicitly designed for the digital age, that leverage interactivity to the full, that explicitly leverage social engagement, that are built upon new music assets.  But crucially these new music products must be high quality, unique and convenient experiences.  Only that way can music products truly compete against illegal free alternatives.  Content scarcity is gone for good – Napster saw to that – but convenience is a hugely scarce commodity in the digital age, and it is this value upon which new music products must be built.

Jeremy Silver: Inspired leadership will restore industry’s self-confidence

According to the acting CEO of the Featured Artists’ Coalition (FAC, www.featuredartistscoalition.com), the industry needs to rediscover its self-confidence.

The music industry is not broken at all. It is in a state of painful and massive transformation. The move is from a channel-dominated business of corporate ‘product’ to a business of more authentic experiences and real time dialogues based on direct relationships between artists and fans.

Of course even as we head in that progressive direction, we also suffer the retro throwback of ‘talent’ being positioned, manipulated and cajoled into becoming ‘product’ – in a more extreme way than ever before. This creates the illusion of success and catapults its victims into the limelight as reality TV stars first and musicians second.  [Reality TV guru] Simon Cowell is the real star – that says it all.

Contemporary audiences are contradictory.

On the one hand, they crave a real post-modern spectacle which includes the sight of celebrity being competed for and generated before our eyes – only inevitably to be demolished by other media further down the track.

On the other hand, audiences want more and more authentic, intimate experiences – from signed merchandise, to the band coming round to play at your house.

What needs fixing? Our self-confidence.  As an industry we’ve taken a bruising recently. We need more inspired leadership, willing to invest in new ways to develop artists, innovate in marketing online and share the experiences of music with fans globally.


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About Author

James Martin

James Martin is Head of Social Media for Midem organisers Reed MIDEM. This includes defining and rolling out Midem's social media strategy, editing midemblog, influencer outreach, developing Midem's fanbase of 75,000+ music professionals and more.

3 Comments

  1. If there is one thing in this that rings out more than anything in this report is the issue of digital music licensing.
    Having a single European licensing system could pave the way for new monetisation streams that prove too complicated in the current framework.
    The music world has got smaller and more connected, now we’re joining the dots, the systems, frameworks and organisations that provide the back end need to catch up – fast!

  2. I agree with what Jeremy has to say. I think leadership and artist care in terms of their development is hugely important. In addition I also think that working with managers to work with their artists plays a vital role in this development.

  3. This is not a question of fixing the problem with technology but rather putting the artist and the labels back to work. There was a time when artist had to get on the road and perform before a live audience before they could get the attention of a label and the media.
    Now , all you have to do is have a budget and throw in some white teeth or street cred and your in the majors. Does anyone wonder why cd sales are so low, digital sales inclusive? ? A fan will purchase a cd from an artist that they saw live …100%
    Everyone has respect for the road work put in by an artist but no one has respect for A&R which does not include getting on the bus and traveling across country and hitting every dive to market a group .
    Think about it the next time you sign an artist that has not one year of road work. Think of him/her like a prize fighter if you want to get that pay per view result. Just a thought…road work and stamina to be a star…
    The consumer will pay for the artists that are touring the most. The labels just need to reconstruct the contracts to include larger budgets for touring and to have them more frequent. If the artist is worth their weight in salt then they will get out there and tour. Thereby, gaining confidence from the consumer which in turn allows for more cd sales and co-brand sales etc.
    No one will support an artist that is just on TV, billboards and videos. We are after all a tangible species and drawn by the evils of the flesh…lol…get them on the road more often and more places and see cd and digital sales improve. If the artist cannot handle it then move on to the next Diva.
    Just a thought,
    Double Deuce

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