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Report On The Great Escape Festival & Conference In Brighton May 16 – 17th


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Hot Flash: New models embracing fan participation prior to the recording of music are working!

This report will provide a brief overview of the music seminars organized by the consultancy group MusicAlly for the Great Escape Festival. I’ll also present a roundup of the live music showcased over the weekend.

Panels: The Leading Question, a keynote address by Terry McBride, CEO of the Network Music Group; Future Music Business Models; Miracle or Mirage (branding and music opportunities); and Net, Blogs and Rock n’Roll. Live shows of note: The Black Lips, Boys in a Band, Natty and The RGBs.

Although attendance was down from last year, the discussions were engaging and provided some good food for thought-provoking content.

Friday 16th May:
The first day of the conference kicked of with some dynamic insight taken from a sample of over 800 music consumers in the UK. The latest consumer reports unanimously decreed that price points of £5 for digital albums and £0.50 for individual tracks were the magic numbers in terms of driving digital sales. I question whether these figures are viable however, with so many pieces of the full track digital music pie being eaten up by mobile operators, aggregators and digital stores. Unless all of these third-party non-content owners are prepared to accept less of the revenue pie, I don’t see how they can be.

Tim Walker also stated that current subscription models need to change their consumer offerings. Consumers have demonstrated that they want ownership of the music included in any offerings when their subscription period ends. As I have previously stated, consumer reluctance to embrace subscription is clearly demonstrated by the uptake of Napster and others with the notable exception of eMusic, which does offer ownership of a number of tracks at the end of each month. If you would like some of the statistics provided in the presentation, please e-mail me and I will be happy to forward them to you.

Terry McBride’s keynote address focused on the success of trying out new business models and embracing them. According to McBride, “the future of the business isn’t in selling records; it’s in selling music, in every form imaginable”. The message was that all of these models offer revenue opportunities and how important it is to try all of them, without conditions.

After his interview, McBride joined the panel focusing on Future Music Models. Representatives from SliceThePie, PowerAmp, Sound Advice/Connected and Sellaband were all present. It was interesting to hear about the success of these new models which rewarded fans for investing in artist’s releases and how the revenues were shared. For example, some would take a cut for a limited period with full rights reverting back to the artist, whilst others would have joint ownership of any recordings. What is interesting to note is that very few incorporated a marketing push once the record had been produced.

The moral of the story here is that innovative new models embracing fan participation prior to the recording of music are working. It will be interesting to see how this particular space evolves.

A discussion focusing on the value associated with closely linking brands and artists was very comprehensive and provided some interesting opinions as to how these collaborations are evolving. It was clear that there is a supply side problem, which makes it incredibly difficult to secure music and brand deals. Brands rightly get turned off when they find out they have to deal with so many stakeholders, in most cases more than four due to the music industry’s fragmented rights management chain. Michael Bayler, CEO at the Rights Marketing Group, (who was instrumental in the Robbie Williams and T-Mobile tie up), stated that he is not seeing brand relevancy being transformed for the music business.

Clearly, the advertising and music industries work on entirely different cycle sequences. Obviously, agencies believe labels need to become more artist lifecycle focused (i.e. not just focused on one-off releases), of which I would agree. Bring on the ARPU model. The fact JV deals were becoming more regular was also interesting although, I hasten to add is it right that an artists income stream (publishing, recording etc.) should flow into brands who already derive high levels of benefit from their association with an artist?

The final paneI I attended on Friday was focused on blogs that review and allow users to stream music. Anthony Vodokin the CEO of The Hype Machine an aggregator of the top music blogs, provided a good one-on-one interview discussing his vision of how blogs can help artists before moving into the panel. The legitimacy of blogs in streaming music for free was discussed. In my own personal view if it is helping to generate a buzz than why try and stop it? A member of the audience questioned the panel on the authenticity of blogs questioning bloggers motives as to why they may write about certain artists. A valid question perhaps? Although I do believe the majority of bloggers writing about music and artist releases, are doing so because of their passion for music. As such I think these bloggers should be applauded for doing so. Bloggers are an invaluable recommendation source as well as an asset to both the music industry and music fans alike.

Now onto the live music! The first band I saw play on Friday night were called Boys In A Band and hail from the Faroe Islands. Now the audience including myself were in for a treat, think more playful Franz Ferdinand sounding tunes with an energy rarely seen, the bass player and guitarist jumping into the crowd, up onto tables in the venue and not losing a beat! Next notable artist was The Black Lips. Now there were serious technical issues with the band taking an extra 30 minutes to line check. It was clear the sound engineer had no idea whatsoever, adding to much reverb to the band’s voices. If I was the band, I would have personally punched out the FOH mixer, I truly hope they sacked him! Regardless I could tell the band could play well and so I will try and see them next time they venture to the UK.

Saturday evening started of as a mess, with many artists cancelling (Santagold) and other artist stage times and venues being dramatically changed. Despite signing up to the gig update text service for changes, I received updates informing of changes 2 hours after the band had finished playing their updated time. A hint to the organizers of the Great Escape, next year ask me for advice and I will ensure you have a reputable back-end provider. Perhaps Bluetooth may prove to be more versatile in the future? Upon witnessing an incredible set by the artist Natty, think new school Bob Marley with great lyrics and oh so beautiful music from the band…put me on another world mood wise. Natty’s single was released on 19th May and his album is out soon, I would definitely recommend Natty to anyone and everyone in the world. Finally ended the evening with the RGBs, think a female version of DEVO (male drummer) with a new edge and massive energetic live show. Bring it on I say. I will be buying their album!




  • Wayne Rosso

    Wayne Rosso has worked in music and technology for decades. He has worked with such artists as Aerosmith, Bee Gees, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Public Image LTD., Beach Boys, Phillip Glass, Fleetwood Mac, Rick James, New Kids on the Block, Slash, Evanescence and scores of others.


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