The concept behind this event was two fold; looking at how the social media phenomenon has impacted rights holders and also examining the various paths it could take in the future. The whole evening was recorded and broadcast later as a podcast, which naturally you can share along side your other social media…
Music Tank chairman Keith Harris opened up proceedings by introducing solo bassist Steve Lawson, who took the opportunity to discuss his personal experiences within the music industry and how social media has played a large part in making it an enjoyable one. Steve took us chronologically through his career starting off as a session player before becoming a solo bass player ‘by accident’ in something that was “a bit of an experiment.” As people became aware of Steve’s solo bass activity online, he began to his fan following grow as he was able to communicate with them all via the internet using ICQ and guest books, the first incarnations of social media.
According to Steve, the key to successful social media is about “passing on a relationship,” and often musicians miss out on this communication aspect. One point Steve made that was particularly interesting focused on how there has been a fundamental change in the way bands market themselves online. In 1998 bands on the lower levels (including his own) sought to appear more corporate in order to seek validation from those observing the sites. However, today corporate sites try to look like Indies in an attempt to look more approachable, for the same reasons of wider validation.
Going further Steve stated that “Twitter changed everything”, yet it doesn’t work as a broadcast medium. TMV however, disagree as Twitter is a one-way communication and hence is not interactive. Going further it is only good to broadcast short messages. Steve also made the comment that “as a database, Myspace is as useful as using your pockets as a bank”. When asked about the future of Twitter, Steve conceded that it might not last; however in his view “microblogging is the future”!
Roadmapping Case Study Exercise – James Yuill
The purpose of this next section was to look at how James’s career had progressed after one year following an in depth analysis by Nettwerk Music Group CEO Terry McBride, where he created a personalised road map that used various social media in order to grow the ‘James Yuill Brand.’ Manager Amul Batra took us through the various activities that James had undergone using social media to only increase awareness but also to create new revenue streams. Successful ideas included; a remix competition, 5.1 Dolby versions of songs, fan designed merchandise as well as entertaining viral video clips.
James also decided to expand on the success of his viral video clips by choosing to take an independent filmmaker along on tour with him in favour of a tour manager. This was a great idea in TMVs view, as it allows for greater depth of content to reach fans, both during and after the tour. This great awareness led to numerous bloggers further growing the James Yuill buzz.
When questioned for some analysis about the campaign, Steve Lawson discussed how he values greater interaction with his fans as a definition for success. As well as acknowledging the success of video content, suggesting that a story adds value to the end product. Perhaps after somewhat going down a long and winding track where the definition of success had started to be debated, it took arch-hippy Peter Jenner to ask the poignant question “Did you make more money this year than last?” To which both artists replied, “Yes”
The Next Big Wave: What Happens Next?
Keynote Steve Browbrick, ‘BBC blogger-in-residence’ gave some brief but perspective altering words on how music has been around for 35,000 years, four or five times longer than agriculture, and perhaps, based on this long history we should view the last 100 years as a golden interlude to how it was, and how it will be. A concept TMV finds extremely interesting.
It wasn’t long before Digital Britain first got a mention, and from Steve Browbrick it was as he described “So desperately disappointing” and how it represented “One last heave”. VP of Multimedia at Nokia, Mark Selby described it as the “Worst report I’ve ever read.” Mark had a very forward thinking attitude as put it bluntly to the industry to “get over it, the worlds changing.”
James Doheny, a Digital Change Consultant, noted rightly so, that we are in an experience industry, and as a result, the influence of recommendation is increasing. Academic powerhouse, economist Umair Haque, allowed the discussion to descend to a more theoretical level, where he mentioned how the fixed prices in the industry have restricted the information flow needed for supply and demand to work successfully. This lack of contextualised information has lead to the growth in social media as it provides context to music.
As the issues moved quickly round the room, occasionally off at some extreme tangents, the session closed with a couple of interesting concepts. Time is an important measure of value and is often a cause behind piracy as it is simply quicker to download illegally rather than to bank on it. But in TMVs the most exciting concept brought forward by Umair, was “Context Based Pricing”, things are more expensive the more popular they become. Definitely some food for thought there.