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Remake, Remodel: Challenging the ‘Dinosaur’ Myth

14th July 2011 @ 2:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Venue: The Boardroom, PRS for Music

  SORRY – THIS EVENT IS FULL AND BOOKING HAS NOW CLOSED

remakeBuilding upon the themes and assumptions laid bare by Tony Wadsworth’s report Remake, Remodel: The Evolution of the Record Label, MusicTank’s fourth industry conference will address the future of the recordings business. Tony’s authoritative take into the future of the record label raised questions about the recordings business that cannot be ignored.

  1. Do financial pressures mean labels will be unable to develop tomorrow’s superstar acts?
  2. How are developments in media affecting the recording business? Could media fragmentation hasten a decline in the number of superstar acts coming through?
  3. What could this mean for the health of the business?
  4. Could record labels adapt more quickly if they ditched physical distribution earlier?
  5. What are the options for artists in today’s business for a recording career?

View report details

‘With input from people from across the business, I have tried to explain the recent evolution of the record label, take the temperature of the industry in 2011, and extrapolate the key trends.  I don’t claim to have all the answers but I hope to give some perspective to the key changes in an industry that’s adapting to a radically new environment without a template, map or guide book.‘ 

Tony Wadsworth

 

The old model of copyright ownership, control of distribution and mass media is on its way out, and other businesses are snapping at the sector’s heels.  BPI Chairman Tony Wadsworth will lead industry discussion to explore these questions in an attempt to map out the new dynamic for the business.

1.  Do financial pressures mean labels will be unable to develop tomorrow’s heritage acts?

  • “Over the next few years, label-sourced A&R is likely to decline by roughly $500 million per year globally” Deloitte Technology, Media & Telecommunications Predictions 2011

With labels leaner, will they still have the financial freedom to develop tomorrow’s big name artists?   Or are labels dropping artists faster than they used to, unable to continue backing them if their initial trajectory is not high enough?

  • “Labels need their music to hit mass audiences for the numbers to add up and the overall business to stay healthy” Andy Parfitt

Does this mean that potential superstar artists who lack instant-hit mass-market appeal might no longer be developed?  Or is it just an opportunity for independents to pick up the artists whose sales no longer make sense for majors?

2.  How are developments in media affecting the recording business?  Could media fragmentation hasten a decline in the number of superstar acts coming through?

If there’s more good music than ever before why do many people think there will be less superstar artists?  As media fragments, will the mainstream be slowly whittled away over coming years in favour of multiple niches?  Or will the likes of R1, R2, ITV, YouTube and MTV continue to offer the scale necessary for artists to hit mass audiences?  Will our age of instant gratification, where the audience moves on quicker and quicker, lead to less superstar acts?

In a time when mainstream media are increasingly looking to the blogosphere and social media to assist in assessing acts, and when many are subject to falling circulations and ad-revenues, is the need for informed and opinionated tastemakers greater now than ever?

And are labels at risk of taking too much of a metrics-led, faddish approach to artist-development, which might tend to lead towards lowest-common-denominator hits?  Or is ‘reading the market’ essential in today’s demand-led economy?

3.  Do we need superstar acts for the health of the business?

  • “In 2011 the lead singers for eight of the 20 highest grossing live acts in the US from 2000-2009 will be 60 or older. Only one of the top 20, Rascall Flatts, released its first album this century (in 2000)” Deloitte Touche Tohamtsu Limited, 2010, based on live tour data from Pollstar

Can the industry sustain itself without the preponderance of heritage and superstar acts?  Will a business model aimed at high-selling pop acts still be viable in coming years? Is more-acts-earning-less-money a sustainable model for the business? If so will the world of the majors still be important?  Or will there be more large independents? Big acts sell big papers – so will more-acts-earning-less-money make the business less relevant?

4.  Could record labels adapt more quickly if they ditched physical distribution earlier?

  • ‘Labels are changing, but not fast enough compared to if they were starting with a blank sheet of paper.’ Brian Message, MMF & Courtyard Management.

Is the continued relative health of the physical business preventing the business from adapting quickly enough?  Or with so much attention paid to digital, are we in danger of neglecting our bread and butter physical business?  With finite and decreasing resources, how long can we afford to keep the physical and digital businesses running in parallel?  When is the tipping point? When does the audience think the digital business will finally take over and the CD business finally become yesteryear’s format?

5.  What are the options for today’s recording artists? A far cry from the days in which ascending artists would make the comparatively simple choice of major royalty deal vs indie profit split, arrangements now include 360s, label services (for sales margin rather than copyright) and new packages benefiting from third party financing.

Contractual details aside, release teams are becoming more hybrid.  The independent sector is seeing a new breed of project manager emerging, coordinating a select team of pluggers, pr and distributor/label to manage a release.

With more options for releasing music, is there an ultimate contractual and resource combination that can best harness the skills of everyone involved?

Notes: A limited number of FREE places are available on a first-come, first-served basis to new applicants for the Creative Futures programme.  Contact MusicTank for full details and eligibility criteria. All registration documents must be completed and accepted at least 3 working days prior to the event.


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