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Event Report: Musexpo Europe 2009

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Day 1 Tuesday 30th June
The New Power Players
Ted Cohen from TAG strategic moderated this panel focusing on the rise of the new digital stakeholders, where new emerging subscription and a-la-carte download models were discussed. The main question raised repeatedly was have we reached “the tipping point” as digital becomes the predominant consumption model for music? Although Paul Brown of Spotify was not in attendance, naturally the service was mentioned throughout, with some panel members suggesting it was not a fair proposition for the artist.

Modeling The Future
Here industry veteran Pete Jenner discusses a browser-based modeling program where all variables and parameters can be adjusted, it depicts the forecast for overall revenue for the music industry, with each amount broken down in to a-la-carte, subscription, regulated, ISP opt in and so on. Peter Jenner stated that with regards to piracy control measures the “The Three Strikes Model won’t work” and he is “very skeptical of anything which tells people that they’re naughty boys.” Peter favors “putting piracy out of business in a positive way” as has been demonstrated in Denmark with TDC. Selling music as a service rather than a product, according to this model that is based on real data, is set to save the music industry.

In TMVs view the fact the service currently does not allow for the variables of aggregators and the %s they take is a serious gap in its model. Let’s face it 26% of the markets is independent on a global level and the great majority of the independent sector have no choice but use aggregation services to get their content to retailers. Aggregators on average take 25 – 30% of what the content owner receives from digital retailers. Subsequently the model needs to be adjusted to take this fact into account. That is if it wants to be valid.

Global A&R Forum
This panel covered many of the usual clichés associated with any A&R panel, such as “it’s all about great songs”, which of course is absolutely true. However, many of the panel chose not to acknowledge the marketable relevance of any music. Media Consultant Andrew Phillips was able to extract some kind of entertainment from the panel using a healthy amount of ridicule and various poignant quick-fire questions such as favorite Michael Jackson song and the more interesting “Does music come to you or do you find it?” Any question that gets A&R people to publicly disagree with each other is okay in my book. Mike Smith (President, Columbia UK) revealed that whilst working during the late 90s he might not have been enjoying the popular music but is genuinely excited about today’s offerings, although I wonder if he would’ve said the exact same thing in 1997!

Day 2 Wednesday 1st July

Publishing Panel
Wednesday’s panels were started with the publishing forum titled “Still The Real Estate Of The Music Business” and featured Barbara Orbison (wife of Roy, and President, Orbison Music Co.) and Allison Donald (MD, Chrysalis Music Publishing) among others. Focus to begin with, revolved around publishers’ ability to develop artists over longer periods of time when compared to labels, as well as a greater “respect for the creative process,” noted by Orbison.

Jens-Markus Wegener (MD, AMV Talpa GmbH) spoke very frankly about artists that receive large advances do get priority treatment, as well as calling out the previous days A&R panel for using too many excuses and stated clearly “I would not want those guys working at my company.”

Later on the panel examined whether publishers would become the labels of the future citing Bat For Lashes as an example where she was picked up on a development deal with the record being owned by Chrysalis and simply licensed to Parlephone. Andy McQueen (Chairman, The Notting Hill Group) pointed out the importance of chart hits for publishers as they provide a platform from which to sell syncs. One question raised asked, “Is Catalogue Relevant?” and unanimously the answer was yes, with Barbara Orbison stating, “[catalogue] really is a cash cow”.

The future of publishers was also discussed alongside the relevance of collection agencies, addressing the current issues of streaming rates, and how to monetize the new media that is almost upon us. Jens-Markus stated clearly (and perhaps speaking the thoughts of many on the panel) “The YouTube deal is shit, I want my money for my authors” Finally the panel was asked the importance of corporate tie in’s, Allison Donald stated there will be “far, far more tie-ins”.

Radio Panel
The provocatively titled Broadcast Summit: “Still making your antenna throb with excitement?” Moderated again by the entertaining Andrew Phillips, keeping to a theme of quick-fire questions he asked “what makes radio successful today?” gleaning a variety of responses such as “non-duplicatable personalities” from Jimmy Steal (Emmis Radio USA), and “What makes radio successful today is consistency” from XFM Founder, Sammy Jacobs.

One thing that was clear about all the panelists there was that they were genuinely passionate about music whilst keeping a clear head about what and wouldn’t work on their stations. Markus Kuehn of MotorFM in Germany stated that quality listeners are far more important in comparison to a huge non-engaged listenership.

Doing It Their Way – Making DIY Pay
This panel focused on members of the DIY community, and delved into the new tools that are available to artists that were previously out of reach, namely Digital marketing! Daniel Courtier-Dutton from Slicethepie, stated that “every email is sacred” and it was these tools that allow artists to connect directly with the fans. John Robb went on to state, that “people believe the myth that the arctic monkeys got signed from the Internet”. According to Robb and Nick Denton Director at Dizzee Raskal’s label Dirtee Stank, breaking an act “is about hard touring”.

Peter Thompson Managing Director at PIAS (UK) noted that we needed to “slow down and accept what we have”. A common theme of agreement between the panelists was that if you focus on hard work, people WILL notice. Dave Woolf from DWF, made it clear that you need to focus on the long-term aspects of all your decisions. Interestingly Meiko – the artist signed to Myspace Records focused on outsourcing and the fact this allowed for greater control, as well as the freedom of building the right team.

Bands
Standout artists for TMV on Monday evening were the Hill Top Hoods from Australia. These lads have had two double platinum records in Australia and can come to the UK and sell out the Islington Academy two nights in a row. Sound wise think well thought out and tight hip hop songs with a unique twist. Tuesday evening, were the Donots from Germany. Think pop punk with an incredible amount of energy and the singer getting right in your face along with lots of rock frtom the bands guitarists.

Wednesday evening was perhaps the most exciting for TMV with Myspace Records artist Meiko playing a very well received performance and we definitely came away viewing Meiko as a very real and down to earth artist who writes great songs. Jakomi, Editor of TMV was blown away by Australian Kate Miller-Heidke’s show. Wow what a dynamic and quirky songstress with an incredible band. Will definitely being seeing more of them. And for me the TMV staffer Sam “The Cumshots” (what a moniker) put on a mind-blowing live show, not for the squeamish though. Expect blood, sweat and tears, the closest comparison I can come up with is Andrew TK trapped in Scandinavia for the last 10 years!

 

 

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