Rob Wells, Senior Vice-President of Digital Universal Music Group International, discusses his frank views on the future of music, in particular the issues of the piracy problem and also on being proactive in creating new commercial models. He outlines his beliefs on how to regain and sustain a healthy working music-business, the word on everybody’s lips. Along the way, social-networking sites, search-engines, issues of live-music, and mobile music are all explored and discussed.
Artist equity returns?: “In the event that a startup can’t afford to pay us an advance, then we will take equity in that company. Any advance is fully recoupable against earnings and therefore fully paid through to artists, ergo the same will be true of any equity investment…
“There may be some businesses that Universal chooses to invest its own money in to … as part of an investment portfolio – those situations are rare but not impossible. In the same way that Universal may make money by selling a building – are those revenues earned liable to royalty payments through to artists? Open question.” The big four labels are thought to own stakes in Spotify.
—The Spotify effect: “What I do know about Spotify is that 80 percent of the user base of the free service have come in from file-sharing services.” “It’s killer.”