Well, TMV have definitely been hard at it these last two weeks from one event to another (turning down the opportunity to report from the International Music Summit in Ibiza this week, three conference weeks after one another is just too much). This time round we headed up to Liverpool for what TMV believe was a great conference line-up. Interestingly, TMV found the panel sessions to be a lot more candid than at the Great Escape or many other industry conferences on the circuit for that matter. So, considering this was the 3rd year Liverpool Sound City had been running and the first with a full conference schedule is a testament to the organizer’s management skills.
We only managed to get to an interview session between Andrew Phillips and Mel Medalie founder of Champion Records and Cheeky Music (Dido, Faithless), who has been in the business for more than 40 years. Andrew did not hold back in the questions depart and Mel came to the table providing some of his personal opinions. One of which was that music had become to easy to access. In his view this had devalued music to where everyone expects to consume music for free.
Whilst, TMV agree in one respect that yes access is easier than ever, we do not believe that the industry can continue to successfully fight the drive of the consumer for this easy access. Instead, the industry needs to stop fighting easy access and work out how to monetize it quickly, both now and with future technological advancements in music consumption.
First up of two key panels on this day was a discussion on the future of broadcast media and more specifically radio. Panelists included Nic Harcourt from KCRW, Sat Bisla from Passport Approved, Mike Walsh from XFM and Markus Kuehn Managing Director of German tastemaker station MotorFM. Nic Harcourt stated that “radio used to be the original social networking communities”, but had lost its way in respect of this with the onset of sites like myspace, Facebook and the like. Going further the panel agreed that it was a combination of commercial radio and labels which destroyed radio’s position as the original social community.
The debate moved onto radio technology formats in terms of satellite radio al-la XM and Sirius. According to Nic Harcourt the satellite radio model was never going to work as it costs billions to put satellites into space and the subscription fees could never adequately recoup those costs. Going further a number of the panelists stated that this on demand format encouraged people to turn off to traditional live real-time airplay and that if revealed by radio stations advertisers would be shocked to realize more people are listening to radio when and how they choose instead of during actual broadcasts.
Second key panel of the day in TMVs view was a good cross section of agents and promoters discussing new ways in which they had developed to monetize the live experience for today and tomorrow. None of the panelists really agreed with labels efforts to secure 360 deals with their artists. Albeit they all agreed they would like a cut of every part of an artist’s income streams. SPF (Germany) stated that agents and promoters had benefited from the devaluation of the CD and it being given away as a promotional item. In effect it had helped boost event ticket sales.
The topic of packaged tours came up and it seemed that it made economic sense for the artists involved and fans also gained value at the same time. Sami Pertuela from the Sam Agency in Finland outlined how he had been breaking into emerging markets like India. Key facts included that although his artist had not had a release at all in India the average ticket sales for each concert were around the 4000 mark. What does this signify? Well in TMVs view it illustrates that these emerging 2nd and 3rd world countries can also be viable revenue generators if done properly.
His is where the conference side to Liverpool Sound City got interesting. Most delegates had been contacted prior to this day and given a list of buyers including agents, promoters, labels, film and TV companies to choose whom they wanted to discuss business with. These were 15-minute pitching sessions. The quality of the buyers leaves al other conferences TMV have attended for dead.
Buyers included Angela Leus, Director of Motion Picture Music at The Weinstein Company, Michael Kramer the Managing Director from TWBA in Germany, label and publishing AnRs from the US and UK and Frank from Creativeman Productions – Japans largest international artists promoter. The organization was supreme, other conferences should take note in TMVs view this was an invaluable element to the conference. It was obvious that they close working relationship between UK trade and Investment and Liverpool Sound Ct played a critical element in making such a concept successful.
Perhaps a highlight of the event was “The Trial” whereby a mock trial was hosted in the Liverpool Supreme Court building, with defendants and prosecution and a jury made up of the general public. As I was not able to attend read the full report from TMVs own Sam McGregor who had the pleasure of being the “Head of The Jury” for the event on Saturday 23rd May.