Film music supervisor Mary Ramos (top photo) was one of the highlights of the second day of Midem, as she talked about her work with Quentin Tarantino and other directors over her 118-film career so far.
“I knew I wanted to be in entertainment. I knew I either wanted to write or direct or act,” said Ramos, who got started with a job in the post-production process for Reservoir Dogs. “I haven’t looked back since… I’ve found the perfect job for me with the two things I love: music and film.”
Ramos explained that the role of a music supervisor goes beyond simply creating compilations of cool songs. “You’re not a DJ. You don’t have a crate of stuff you go to every time. It would be awesome to just make mixtapes and have that be the story,” she laughed. “What you’re really there to do is to serve the picture, to serve the story. you need to find music that fits, music that can move the scene along.”
Ramos talked about her own tastes – “I do have a crazy eclectic iTunes library, lots of polka!” – but expressed some concerns about how her role is seen by some studios. “It’s sad how little money people budget for music, considering how important music is for films. Music can make or break a movie,” she said. “I’m biased on that, right? But it’s true!”
Ramos’ session was preceded by a keynote with Pandora CEO Tim Westergren, who was joined by artist Flo Morrissey and interviewed by Glassnote Entertainment’s Daniel Glass (left).
Westergren addressed rumours that his company is up for sale: “We are on a path to do something big and something for the long-term. That’s why I got back in the saddle, so no plans for that,” he said, before promising that the company’s plans to move into on-demand music will not follow the standard streaming template of “30m songs and a search box and good f**king luck!”
Westergren defended Pandora from criticism over the royalties it pays to artists, comparing it wth radio in the US, which does not pay royalties to artists at all. “Every 1% of market share that moves from broadcast radio to Pandora creates an incremental revenue of $60m a year to the industry,” he said.
Pandora’s CEO also threw some shade in the direction of YouTube and other on-demand services. “What drives me crazy is there is a substantial part of the digital music world that is educating listeners to believe that they can get music for free, and for free on demand. And it takes the form of unlimited free, perpetually free trials, and poorly monetised services,” he said. “It’s not good in the revenue it doesn’t generate, but it also creates bad habits.” (Full report on Music Ally)
— Nikolas Schriefer (@kinosal) June 4, 2016
Earlier in the day, Pandora’s chief operating officer Sara Clemens suggested that the music industry has a powerful reason for supporting companies like Pandora.
“The music industry is going to be a miserable world if your only path to your fans is via Apple or Facebook or Amazon or Google. Because those are not music services,” she said. “Those people don’t get out of bed every day and say ‘how can we connect artists with their fans?’”
Songwriters and the publishing industry were represented in another Midem keynote yesterday, with Warner/Chappell boss Jon Platt and songwriter Justin Tranter, who talked about one of his most recent hits: Sorry, which was recorded by Justin Bieber.
“Some songs you write, you definitely know they’re special,” he said. “But Sorry was a night session on a double session day… We just wrote it pretty quickly, it was about an hour to write the song and left. ‘Oh, that’s cool’. I honestly had no idea. You know what a good song is, but you don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Tranter.
Platt talked about his approach to development, which is more than just songwriters. “I don’t usually chase the superstar songwriters that are already high… My thing is for 20 years I’ve been known for developing songwriters and signing them at the beginning of their careers,” he said. “I take the same approach with executive talent. I like to develop executive talent, it’s a passion of mine. I didn’t want any recycled executives… I wanted to give young people a shot.”
He also talked about Warner/Chappell’s global ambitions. “Really my focus now is to push the way we’re working in the US out to the rest of the world now,” said Platt, before turning his attention to one country in particular. “We’ve underperformed in the UK for a very long time, and as I look through the financials and stats it proves it. So we made some changes in the UK, and we’re off to the races.” (Full report on Music Ally)
One of the sparkiest panel sessions of Midem’s second day was the debate about how startups and music corporations can work better together. Sitar Teli, managing partner at Connect Ventures, outlined her views on some of the problems with these relationships, suggesting that past digital disruptions like filesharing had a negative effect on dealmaking.
“One reaction was to be more distrustful of technology companies… some of the deals that have been done have been collaboration, but have not been sustainable for the startup,” said Teli. “The music industry: there’s really only a handful of people to negotiate with, so they have a lot more bargaining power than a startup ever will.”
Teli said that as a VC, she defines success as companies to have scaled to become independent and profitable. “I actually can’t think of a music-tech company that has done that. Which is very worrying,” she said. “Music is one that VCs generally avoid. Even the largest, most successful company in this sector is Spotify, and it lost a couple of hundred million dollars last year, so it’s still not there.”
David Hoffman, co-founder of Next Big Sound, said that the music industry has shown itself willing to work with startups. “If you think about Spotify, which is now this 800lb gorilla, when they did their first deals with major content firms in 2008, they didn’t exist. They didn’t have a product,” he said.
Sony Music Entertainment’s Mark Piibe gave some advice to startups wanting to establish credibility with major labels. “Understand the market dynamics and go in with a credible story about how you’re going to add value or solve something that needs to be solved,” he said, before addressing Teli’s point about profitability.
“I don’t think you can conclude that music distribution companies in the digital space are never going to make money,” said Piibe. “These companies make choices in how they manage their P&L. Their priority may be expansion rather than profitability. Or getting a user base as large as possible as opposed to profitability. So these choices are being made every day at these companies.” (Full report on Music Ally)
Talking of startups, three were celebrating yesterday as the winners of the Midemlab startups contest were announced.
Mind Music Labs won the hardware / internet of things category with their smart guitar Sensus; Stagelink won the marketing, social engagement and monetisation category with their fan-powered tour promotion service; and Mimi Hearing won the discovery, recommendation and creation category with their app for adapting music to your ‘hearing profile’. Mind Music Labs also won the Midemlab audience’s vote, as most promising of these three winning startups.
All three pitching sessions are available to watch on YouTube – hardware / IoT; marketing, engagement and monetisation; and discovery, recommendation and creation – so you can see the 20 startups pitch their technologies and services.
Marketing was also on the agenda earlier in the day with a panel on whether streaming services are “the new marketing eldorado”, including the playlists being curated by streaming firms and external companies.
TheSoundYouNeed’s Olivier Dutertre talked about Apple Music’s Connect feature. “I don’t think it’s working very well,” he said, noting that for now it is aimed more at artists than brands (playlist brands included).
“I think Apple Music is going to grow to a point where it’s bigger or as big as Spotify. And at that point I hope they are going to remake Apple Connect, because that would be the best feature for any brand to create a profile, have a following and your profile could be linked to your playlists.”
Believe Digital’s James Farrelly talked about the impact of Spotify’s own playlists. For the Your Favourite Coffeehouse playlist on Spotify, an artist can generate “hundreds of thousands of streams” over a period of time from being placed on it. Farrelly also said Spotify’s Fresh Finds playlists, which spotlight emerging tracks, are having an impact. One Believe-distributed artist’s song was generating eight streams a day on Spotify, then got posted to Fresh Finds and jumped up to 24,000 streams a day, ultimately topping the UK viral chart.
Rami Zeidan, head of marketing at Middle Eastern streaming service Anghami, said that labels must roll out their own marketing for tracks and albums, rather than just rely on getting onto the curated playlists of the streaming services. ““Streaming platforms are not magic boxes. You can’t just throw a song there and hope it sticks. And you can’t just throw it there and say ‘what can you do for me’ [to the streaming service]. Dude, it’s YOUR song!” he said. (Full report on Music Ally)
Later, there was inspiration for attending labels and artists in a half-hour presentation from Music Ally’s head of training Nikoo Sadr, in which she outlined some of the most inventive digital marketing campaigns of the last year, from Avicii on Instagram to Ludovico Einaudi’s touch piano.
— Midem (@midem) June 4, 2016
Sadr also moderated a panel on digital marketing with Claire Mas of Communion Music and Universal Music Sweden’s Joakim Johansson. Their conversation included the thorny topic of streaming exclusives, as well as the need for wide horizons when planning how to get music out into the world.
“68m paid music subscribers vs 3.3bn people online; it’s just a drop in the ocean! Don’t offer narrow solutions,” warned Mas. Meanwhile, Johansson said that “everything should be available on all platforms; it’s up to consumer where they want to listen“.
— Midem (@midem) June 4, 2016
In her own session, on marketing trends set to mark 2017, Mas talked about the growing importance of YouTube influencers, while noting that these are tough times for music blogs. She also presented some stats showing just how much more popular video posts currently are on Facebook than links and photos.
At Midem’s Legal Summit, meanwhile, a session focused on the growth of “visual social media”, from videos on Facebook and Snapchat to lip-dub apps like Dubsmash and Musical.ly.
“Video is becoming central to platforms like Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram, and artists are using these as the next promotional tool, connecting directly with their fans. It’s become the go-to tool for promoting music,” said Alex Kischm, EVP of business development and business affairs for Vevo.
“But it is still, I’d say, predominantly promotion, and basically that means rightsholders are not getting paid. Friend? Enemy? Frenemy? Somewhere in between. This is still very early days for these guys, but I think it will move quickly,” said Kisch.
“You’re seeing apps like Musical.ly and Dubsmash which are very effective at building scale and using music and music video, and giving users a way to experiment and interact and do really interesting things, but by and large the approach tends to be ask for forgiveness later instead of permission now,” he said, before noting that the historic gap between “innovation and authorisation” is narrowing.
“Frenemy to friend. There’s an opportunity to convert the enemies to frenemies, and move them down the spectrum to the friends side,” said Kisch. (Full report on Music Ally)