The afternoon of Visionary Monday at midem began with classical pianist Lang Lang (photo), who provided a refreshingly optimistic take on the potential for music and technology to go hand-in-hand, rather than fight like cats in a bag.
“The power of technology is limitless, much like the power of music. Perhaps this is why they are such good partners,” he said.
“As we have witnessed in the past few years, social media totally changed many parts of the world. But it has also served as an instant tool for communication partnerships, networking and charitable purposes. Similarly, music has no boundaries. It’s often cited as a universal language, and through that unique language it brings people together, and helps bridge cultural gaps between countries.”
Lang Lang said embracing technology is the best way the classical industry can bring its music to a wider audience, including getting children enthusiastic about listening to and playing classical music.
He also suggested that developers and musicians should be getting together more often. “Creating new software, new apps. There are a lot of ideas. I think we can certainly talk openly,” he said. “Just passing by today’s conference I saw many interesting companies are having really interesting ideas of creating new apps.”
South Korea loomed large this afternoon, with Samsung’s TJ Kang sharing the Grand Auditorium stage with Ford to talk about how music fits with a wide range of devices (and, indeed, cars) in 2013.
Meanwhile, down at the midem Academy, a fascinating session on the global growth of K-Pop music educated its audience on the fact that Gangnam Style singer PSY is really an outlier: there’s much more to the Korean music scene.
“Forget PSY. PSY is not K-Pop, and PSY is not Asia,” said moderator Jasper Donat from Music Matters. Yet PSY’s YouTube-fuelled success is representative of the way other Korean artists have been using Google’s video service. YouTube’s head of music in Asia Pacific, Anthony Zameczkowski, talked about the growth of K-Pop videos on the site.
“Since 2010 they have managed to double their views every year. We started in 2010 with 1bn views, 2011 with 2bn views, and in 2012 5bn views. The majority of the views are coming from outside the Korean market. Clearly K-Pop is getting global,” he said.
The statistic that drew a gasp from the audience was when Billboard’s Clayton Jin said that every month, between 50 and 70 new K-Pop groups are created, yet less than 1% ever experience any form of success.
Back in the Grand Auditorium, American Express’ chief marketing officer John Hayes was outlining his company’s love for music and music promotions, before a sparky panel to end the day by discussing innovation in the music industry. He notably said the brand sold out a Bon Jovi concert with one tweet… and that he’s looking for collaborative ideas. A new Amex website will be opened mid-February in this aim.
The question of whether labels and collecting societies are dinosaurs inevitably reared its scaly, prehistoric head. Just as inevitably, the three collecting society representatives on the panel emphatically thought not.
Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 provided a balanced artist’s perspective, though. “Are record companies dinosaurs? For the large part they are, just because of the nature of being a big business,” he said, before turning to the positives.
“Record labels now are in a good spot to use all these different technologies to get attention to bands, and to push bands,” he said, describing the ideal label/artist relationship as “partnerships of creativity. There is still a balance to be made there: there is good that can come from that partnership.”
Incubus manager Steve Rennie remembered his days working for a major label, when “all the labels spent more time protecting than innovating”. He suggested that while things have changed, the industry “has got to keep innovating”.
One source of this innovation is Swedish digital-only label X5 Music, whose CEO Johan Lagerlof talked about its experiments on Spotify, taking 500 tracks that were being streamed on average 7,000 times a week each, and repackaging them as compilation albums that were streamed 247,000 times a week. “That’s an increase of 3,400%,” he added, helpfully.
Hoppus had mixed views on streaming services: he really likes them but he thinks they’re worth paying more for. “Now we’re begging people to spend $20 a month to get evey single fucking song that’s been made in the history of mankind? Having that kind of access is incredible, and it’s worth a lot more to people,” he said.
Watch the Visionary Monday livestream – and full sessions post-event – on our YouTube channel.
Photo © Reed MIDEM/360 Médias/Y Coatsaliou