EVENT REPORT: MUSEXPO EUROPE 2010
Upon entering the Cumberland Hotel, host to MUSEXPO Europe 2010, the first question that came to mind was whether one had walked into an art exhibition or a lobby. Both impressions were feasible; there wasn’t an inch of the location that hadn’t been impregnated with artistic impulse. For one of the music industry’s most cutting-edge conferences, it couldn’t have been a more suitable place. A cascading waterfall alluded to the ubiquity of content. The oddly oriented statues were analogous to the disorientation of businesses. Without further ado, let’s consider the panels.
Finding a seat wasn’t too much trouble. Key music conferences and events have been suffering attendance shortfalls recently, and few of the panels achieved over a three-quarter capacity.
There were a variety of speakers from all sectors, though it was the speakers that were new to- or operated outside the music industry, that had the most interesting things to say.
Monday kicked off with a number of encouraging observations and comments. There was a general consensus that the industry is reaching a tipping point, and with the growth in digital album sales almost negating the 4.7% drop in CD sales seen so far this year, such statements are becoming even more tangible.
Of course, the 360-deal structure featured in conversations. Nick Gatfield (President of New Music, EMI) made it explicitly clear that dipping into new revenue streams should be done in proportion to the additional services a label (or ‘music entertainment group’) is able to offer i.e. ‘added value’. A ‘Use it or Lose it’ approach was encouraged, and of course it was left to listeners to decide whether these positive comments were actually destined for implementation. Will labels walk the talk, or simply baulk?
It’s always good to know that the industry has its priorities straight. Those speaking in the Global Artist Development Forum collectively agreed that the success of an artist still depends on great songs; inflated personas need substantiating. Interesting to note how fans are fundamentally looking for the same things they were 100 years ago – a great song, a personable character and a good time. Perhaps it’s more difficult to fulfil these needs now, as it’s so easy to overcomplicate things.
Is television really supporting UK music – new and heritage? Well Elaine Bedell (Director of Entertainment & Comedy, ITV) says Yes. To what extent though? Should the music industry look at taking a more proactive role in achieving increased coverage on key channels, by looking to create new program formats, rather than simply pointing and saying “there isn’t enough being done”? ITV attracts viewers with an average age of between 50-54 (though they consider themselves ten years younger, according to Elaine). So how can we build a program that serves the viewer’s and the industry’s needs?
Both days at MUSEXPO flowed very smoothly; talks were punctuated with ample opportunities to network, as well as to feast on the Cumberland’s fine cuisine. Do not underestimate the importance of the tea break; one of the event’s key selling points is to allow for new entrants to the industry to build their contact bases, and there really couldn’t be a better way of doing that than having a chin-wag over a cuppa. It was a pleasure to see that the event attracted delegates from a plethora of other territories, both within and without the EU.
- Alasdair George announcing in his mini-keynote that Edge Investment Management raised £30 million in its last fund-raising run. Delegates’ ears certainly pricked up.
- Discovering in the ‘Alternative Routes to Monetization’ panel that only 1% of music content is being represented by online discovery platforms.
- Morgan Donoghue (Head of Music, Vodafone Group Services) stating that tying a subscription service to phone tariffs helps to reduce churn.
- In the mini-keynote with Robert Ashcroft (PRS for Music) it was stated that over 1,200 online services were licensed last year. Furthermore, online revenues have grown from £1 million in 2002 to £30.4 million in 2009, which equates to a collections growth of 73%.
- There was talk on the introduction of 100MB broadband in the UK. What are the implications of this potential upgrade on media as a whole, and what is going to be travelling down these super-fast lines?
- Brands have invested £90 million in music, a similar sum to that invested by the Arts Council. Artists are now creating unique music and content for brands.
- Germany has seen a growth in digital revenues from €87.9 million in 2008 to €118.2 million in 2009, though CDs still contribute towards 80% of all music sales. The percentage of music consumers aged 40-49 rose from 50% in 2008 to 54% in 2009. Furthermore, illegal downloads dropped from 316 million in 2008 to 258 million in 2009.
- Live events are under threat by rising costs due to the need to pay for policing, and the sector now faces the possibility of a PRS tariff hike, which could see a rise from the current 3% rate to anything up to 10%.
All in all, MUSEXPO Europe 2010 was a success. The format, running and general logistics of the event were effective and fulfilled delegate needs. In future, it would be good to see more attention to detail in the MUSEXPO website, which was lacking in key information, such as speaker biographies.
The panels covered a variety of subjects, all of which were topical in nature. For first-timers, the event would have been very informative. For veterans, the simplicity of some of the content was almost painful. Yes, the internet has changed the music industry. Can we please move on now?
It would be great to have more speakers from outside the music industry to ensure future events are varied and don’t consist of re-hashed general knowledge, with the addition of updated stats. New perspectives are key in helping to drive innovation. This is something that should be kept in mind for next year. These events are attended by key decision makers, and having a concentration of influential minds within one room is essential in forming creative solutions to our collective trials and newly presented opportunities.
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