Newsletter # 53 July 2008
If you’ve been paying attention you’ll be well aware that this month sees MusicTank launch a unique music business experiment at The Imagination Gallery in Bloomsbury, headed up by Nettwerk Music Group CEO and ‘Meet The Millennials’ author Terry McBride. But you know all about that, right? So instead of going on about it we thought that in the spirit of experimentation that Terry has fostered we’d cast our eye over some of the other innovative people and projects that are doing things differently and little by little changing the way the music industry works.
It’s also important to stress that we mean the whole music business – for too long now the headlines have been dominated by the woes of record companies as though music’s sole evolutionary purpose has been to for it to end up shrink wrapped with a discount sticker on it in some branch of Woolworths. Whilst the record business will remain difficult pending a renaissance that fully embraces ways that Millennials discover and share new music, forward thinking people in the rest of the community have just got on with the business of music.
It’s no secret that the live scene has never been in such rude health with concert attendances up across the board the past few years and concert promoters have been some of the most enthusiastic adopters of new technology. Perhaps because watching a blurry distorted YouTube clip of a band filmed on a mobile phone is never going to compete with seeing a live band, the live music sector has never had to concern itself with any potential negative impact that technology might have. Instead promoters have embraced with open arms online communities such as Facebook, MySpace and Last.FM, whilst more and more websites such as Upcoming keep appearing, wholly dedicated to live events.
The days when the small promoter’s main tool was a miserable looking, underpaid chap standing outside a club till all hours handing out flyers destined to be roach paper are long gone, by creating precision-targeted e-mailings, the promoter can instantly keep thousands of potential punters informed of what’s going on. Even better via things like Facebook groups and events, those punters can invite their friends and before you know it there’s an army of paying customers doing the promoters’ work for them. In the time that it has taken to write this editorial I’ve received around 8 recommendations of gigs from friends who use Upcoming, Eventful and Facebook, at least half of these I’ve put in my diary and plan to attend.
It’s not just the live side of music that is flourishing though – throughout every sector of industry those who are looking beyond the traditional modes are thriving. Even areas such as the magazine trade, affected just as much by the internet as record labels, has begun to compete seriously against the free blogs and sites that clog up the information highway. One such magazine, Bearded, is fully embracing the possibilities afforded by web 2.0 by stepping well beyond the confines of its paper form in the shape of Beardaid.
A new subscription service launching in July, Beardaid will not only ensure your copy of the magazine arrives on your doormat fresh from the printers, but you’ll get an exclusive 5 track record each month, access to an online archive of back issues, discounted entrance to Bearded gigs and parties and the promise of a tonne of other freebies as and when they have a root down the back of the Bearded office sofa.
Importantly it will also allow you access to Beardaid online community and with a strong focus on supporting independent music in all its forms from recorded to live music, Bearded aims to become so much more than just a magazine, operating as a hub for like minded types to congregate around. By embracing all the opportunities around him, Bearded’s editor Gareth Main has ensured his magazine a stronger, brighter future for both himself and his readers.
The internet is here to stay. Blogs, P2P file sharing – none of these things are going to helpfully disappear, instead we need to look at why the pirates are so popular and what they offer (and not just free music) that traditional outlets don’t, whether that’s ease of use, range of choice or sense of community. When you look at them as competition rather than a threat you can appropriate their innovations, legitimising new markets to the benefit of consumer and business alike.
Over the coming months in a new section of the MusicTank newsletter, we’ll be taking a regular look at those pushing the envelope, throwing a spotlight on the innovators in the music industry and highlighting the individuals and organisations who are shaping tomorrow. In the words of Terry McBride himself ‘Waiting for proofs-of-concept to turn into traditional business practices will not prove the prudent approach… Yesterday’s outlandish concepts are tomorrow’s best practices’.
Editorial by Sam Shemtob
OUT AND ABOUT: MusicTank events
17 JULY: FACE TO FACE WITH THE MILLENNIALS
Following its recently acclaimed ‘Meet The Millennials’ report, MusicTank has invited its author and Nettwerk Music Group’s Co-Founder & CEO Terry McBride to the UK to take part in a very special music business initiative. Challenged to put his philosophy into practice, Terry will not only debate his ideas with fellow professionals but in a unique experiment, be confronted with an up and coming British act for whom he will roadmap a path to success, live on stage. With nowhere to hide this will be the ultimate test of Terry’s beliefs and skills.
13.30-14.30 – TERRY MCBRIDE on “WHY EXPERIMENTATION IS KEY”
Delivering the keynote address, Terry will expound on his report’s findings, delivering a valuable insight into the minds of those he has dubbed ‘Millennials’ and who hold the future of the music business in their hands. How do we connect with this generation, where do they congregate online, what do they regard as a fair price for music and what do they think of bands’ interactions with brands? All these issues and more will be looked at in detail as we take stock of a day and age where the Millennials are no longer content to just sit back and passively consume music. We’ll also consider whether, with over 11 million downloads last year of tracks for the Rock Band and Guitar Hero III games alone, getting that record deal should still be the be all and end all of an aspiring band’s career.
Following Terry’s address we will open the debate up to the delegates, with those present having a chance to quiz Terry in detail.
14.30-14.45 – FACE THE FACTS: A UK MARKET UPDATE
A leading Youth Trends research organisation bares all and discusses recent survey findings. And since we’re all desperately trying to read the minds of the ‘Millennial’ generation we also figured that we should hear directly from them. To which end…
14.45-15.30 – SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT WITH TOM ROBINSON
…we’ve assembled a panel ranging in age from 15 to 23 to tell us, unfiltered by marketing departments or research groups, exactly what they think of Terry’s views. Broadcaster and Songwriter Tom Robinson is uniquely placed to delve into the music mindset of the Millennial generation, championing as he does, emerging bands and new music on his BBC 6Music radio show. Tom will tease from this Millennials panel whether or not they think outspoken Canadian Terry McBride really gets what British teenagers want from their favourite acts? What do they really think of Myspace, Facebook et al? Would it bother them if the next album they bought had a Nike Swoosh on the back rather than a Universal globe? Only one way to find out…
16.00-17.30 – ROADMAPPING
The event will conclude with the start of a unique music business experiment: would Terry’s more ‘out-there’ ideas work in the real world and would they work with an up-and-coming act with a less established fan-base? We’ll find out when we unveil an act for whom in collaboration with invited representatives from digital marketing companies (below), e-tailers, digital distributors, brand specialists and games companies, Terry will work with to create a 360-degree, mould-breaking roadmap for a successful year ahead.
Martin Stiksel – Last.fm; Steven Hill – Warp Records; Kim Machray – KLP; Howard Monk – The Local; Daniel Cross– Record-Play; Rachel Wood – Woodwork Music; Suw Charman-Anderson – Fruitful; Alfie Dennen – MoBlog; James North – Rechord. Others tbc…
Together we’ll look at ways of converting the act’s ‘tribe’ of fans into active agents working towards the artist’s success, the benefits of releasing stems and experimenting with fan mixes, price tipping-points, deals with brands, even ways of sidestepping regular distribution and releasing via the act’s fan base or P2P communities – valuable lessons equally applicable to acts of all genres at any stage of their career.
The experiment won’t stop here though and with a year long plan of action set out we’ll be closely monitoring the band’s progress over the months ahead to see exactly how much use experimental ideas are in the real world.
The day also sees us celebrate MusicTank’s fifth anniversary, so the serious business of helping reshape the future of the music industry will be followed by the even more serious business of drinking and celebrating.
DIARY & BOOKING:
Date: Thurs 17 Jul ’08 | Venue: Imagination Gallery, 25 Store Street, London WC1E 7BL. Please contact MusicTank if you have any accessibility requirements.
Time: 12.30 (registration and lunch) for a 13.30 start. End 17.30. Drinks reception in the Imagination Atrium 17.30 – 20.30. Timings may be subject to slight change.
Price: £55 + VAT – MusicTank Members | £70 + VAT – Trade Body Discount | £85 + VAT Full Price.
Tickets include lunch, refreshments, evening drinks (and free wifi access) and MUST be booked and paid for in advance!
This event is supported by London Connected: The Digital Music Network For London
JOE POX: Jay-Z @ Glastonbury
After what seems like months of ‘controversy’, Jay-Z finally headlined at Glastonbury on Saturday night. In the Makeshift Indie Corner was one Noel Gallagher of Burnage, while in the Proper Global Megastar corner was Shawn Corey Carter of Brooklyn. Ding-ding – Round 1. Noel, clearly never having looked beyond the backstage area on Michael Eavis’s farm, stated back in April that: “I’m not having hip-hop at Glastonbury. It’s wrong.” Jay-Z kept a dignified silence.
Then Saturday arrived. Bling-bling – Round 2. Jay-Z walks out on the Pyramid Stage on Saturday and his band break into ‘Wonderwall’, tongue firmly in cheek. Then he plays ’99 Problems’. Knockout. Gallagher sprawls on the canvas, his nostrils filled with blood as opposed to a rolled up £20 note. Jay-Z lifts the heavyweight title. It was delicious payback for Noel who really should, you know, think about what he says occasionally. In a mere three minutes, Jay-Z proved he was the bigger man, the bigger wit, the bigger star. He also exposed Noel as yesterday’s news, living out past glories and not the global star he always believed he had the inherent right to be. Revenge is, as they say, a dish best served cold.
Let’s hope Noel has the appetite to eat his hat as, considering how big-headed he is, he’s going to be chewing on it until Christmas at least.
INDUSTRY DIARY: Other music industry events
LONDON CONNECTED – SIGN UP NOW FOR FREE SUPPORT FROM AIM’S NEW SCHEME
London Connected is a skills and business development programme helping London’s music businesses and entrepreneurs to take advantage of opportunities presented by digital technologies.
This could be helping a record label to develop its digital strategy and increase its digital music sales, or helping a graduate to get a job or work placement in the digital side of the music business, or helping a musician to learn how to promote and sell their music online… there is a range of different types of support available to meet the varied needs of all of London’s music businesses and entrepreneurs.
The programme is managed and delivered by the Association of Independent Music (AIM), supported by £650,000 from the London Development Agency (the LDA), the Mayor of London’s Agency for Jobs and Business.
If you’re a London-based music business or someone based in London looking to work in the music business, sign up now to benefit from free training, business support and much more.
INDEPENDENTS DAY ’08
Elsewhere in the wide world of music the independent sector is revving up for it’s first Independent Day. Organised in the UK by AIM, Independents Day aims to celebrate and draw attention to the hard work and contribution of independent artists and labels to the music business as a whole. Not only responsible for breaking new acts, the independent sector has often been at the forefront of innovation in the industry, and the successes of British independent labels over the years who have consistently punched above their weight in global terms is something well worth raising a glass to.
Events are being held across the world to mark the occasion; here in the UK Channel 4 have stepped up with a series of shows on independent music leading up to the 4th, when a 2CD album featuring the likes of The Prodigy, The Charlatans, Infadels, Devendra Banhart and Jarvis Cocker will be released. Running concurrently with all this is a series of eBay auctions of rare music memorabilia and services, ranging from signed Gold discs to lunch with Martin Mills, the head of Beggars Group and all the money raised from both the auction and sales of the album will benefit the Musicians Benevolent Fund, C.A.L.M., and independent music projects and initiatives.
MUSEXPO COMES TO LONDON
Los Angeles-based conference MUSEXPO is bringing its unique blend of conference sessions, live music and serious networking to London in October with the launch of its first European event. Senior international players from the worlds of music, media and technology will converge on London’s Cumberland Hotel from October 27-29 for the inaugural MUSEXPO Europe. Among the speakers already confirmed for the day time conference sessions are the likes of influential US sync guru Alex Patsavas (music supervisor on Grey’s Anatomy and The O.C.), AEG Live (UK) chief Jessica Koravos, leading US radio broadcasters Nic Harcourt (KCRW Los Angeles) and Gene Sandbloom (KROQ Los Angeles), Relentless founder Shabs Jobanputra and Radio 2 Head of Music Jeff Smith.
Meanwhile the evening gigs at the Metro and Borderline venues, organised in conjunction with The Great Escape festival, will showcase the hottest emerging international acts. MUSEXPO is organised by A&R Worldwide, the US-based music consultancy which focuses on finding and nurturing talent for the international marketplace.
That's all for this issue - 'til next time...
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The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily condoned or shared by MusicTank. MusicTank is a non-profit organisation owned and operated by University of Westminster. University of Westminster is a charity and a company limited by guarantee. Reg Number: 977818, England. Registered Office: 309 Regent Street, London, W1. MusicTank is based at University of Westminster, Watford Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 3TP
Sections Below:OUT AND ABOUT: MusicTank events
JOE POX: Jay-Z @ Glastonbury
INDUSTRY DIARY: Other music industry events
That's all for this issue - 'til next time...
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