It’s been a hugely busy day at midem, with the Visionary Monday strand examining all things digital.
The big session was a panel with UMG’s Rob Wells, Google’s Zahavah Levine, Amazon’s Craig Pape and Merlin’s Charles Caldas. Levine vented some frustration at the complexities of licensing music from multiple rightsholders.
“We have a great product vision, and then we have to convince a lot of other players to buy in to that same exact vision… And unfortunately that process ends up compromising products sometimes, because not everyone has the same vision.”
Meanwhile, Wells said that UMG would welcome Apple’s entry into the streaming music market, if and when it chooses to launch such a service.
“If they were ever to move into the subscription space, the product they would launch would be well thought through… I think it will be a success. And hopefully if it is a success, that rising tide will lift all boats.”
Cellist Zoe Keating also talked about streaming during a panel on how artists can build a sustainable career from music, although she said it’s far from the be-all and end-all of her success.
“Streaming is just another way for me to be heard, so it’s great, but I don’t think it’s ever going to be a sustainable part of my income. It’s up to me to convince those listeners to support me, like they would support their local farm.”
Meanwhile, Beggars Group’s Simon Wheeler told the audience that streaming is an increasingly important part of his label’s business. “Two of our top five digital partners by revenues are streaming businesses.”
Other highlights of the afternoon: Mike Masnick’s excellent presentation on why artists need to be “open, human and awesome” to succeed, citing US comedian Louis CK as inspiration: he made more than $1m in a couple of weeks by self-releasing a DRM-free video of a show for $5.
Meanwhile, analyst Mark Mulligan put a convincing case for the next generation of music formats to be more… appy. “The future of music products will be app-like experiences,” he said in his presentation on ‘Agile Music‘.
Then in a particularly packed and frank panel, producer Mark Ronson (photo) also explained why making an Olympic Games track with Coca-Cola has been a creatively interesting project, rather than a soulless corporate sellout.
To make the track, Ronson travelled around the world to sample sporting sounds — like a judoka’s shout, for example — which he then made into an exclusive recording.
“This gives me a platform that I would never be afforded maybe by Columbia Records for doing a song. I have to make it great, because this is maybe the biggest exposure I’ll have for a song,” he said.
“The record industry in the crisis that its in, you have to do these things. As long as the music that you make while you’re doing it is good, that’s all that matters.”
Ronson and Coca-Cola’s Wendy Clark both rejected the notion that an artist being paid by a brand is ‘selling out’. “There’s no question of selling out,” said the artist. “Kids reject brands that aren’t authentic,” confirmed Clark.
Then on to Facebook’s partnerships VP, Dan Rose, who had a killer stat: 5 billion songs have been shared on the social network since its new open graph launched in September 2011.
“If you’re an artist and your content is not already on one of these services, make it available,” said Rose, who went on to talk about the impact Facebook is having on music.
“There’s a new currency that’s emerging in the music industry, which is how many people have shared a given song or a given artist on Facebook. This currency is going to become a new way that people talk about whether music is blowing up.”
There’s real money in social media too, though: Rose reported that TicketMaster makes an additional $5 of incremental revenue every time someone shares their concert ticket purchase on Facebook.
More in our interview with Rose, here.
And that, as they say, was a wrap!