The evolution of traditional models

With the shakeup that the music industry has experienced over the past decade, many of the ways of doing business have changed too. Managers are taking on more of the tasks of a label; publishers are taking a more prominent role in artist development; and new firms are emerging that cross many of the traditional boundaries.

Some of Midem’s keynote speakers addressed these opportunities. Ghazi Shami, CEO of innovative US hip-hop distributor and promoter Empire, delivered his vision for music success in 2018 — fresh from signing a multi-year strategic partnership with Universal Music Group.

Hartwig Masuch, CEO of the resurgent BMG, addressed the topic of How To Build A New Music Company.

“As a company not even 10 years old, the most important things driving BMG’s business are not market dynamics, but BMG dynamics. In 2017 we grew two-and-a-half times faster than the market,” Masuch said. “To put it another way, we would be growing rapidly even without the growth in the market driven by streaming.”

Masuch will be talking about BMG’s belief that delivering for its artists and songwriters has been the key to its growth.

The music industry justifies its existence to the extent it benefits artists and songwriters — not the other way around,” he said. “A lot of people pay lip-service to artists, but for us a real service ethic is hardwired into our culture.”

Acquisitions playing a key role

Three executives from Concord Music — CEO Scott Pascucci; chief business development officer Steven Salm; and chief publishing executive Jake Wisely — keynoted at Midem.

Their talk focussed on how Concord grew from a small publisher and label into a global independent music company, with acquisitions playing a key role.

“One year after buying Imagem Music, Rodgers & Hammerstein and Boosey & Hawkes, we are happy to share the experience of a multi-dimensional merger,” Wisely said.

Concord also talked about some of the positive industry trends that it sees backing up its bold acquisitions, including higher streaming rates for publishers in the US, and the wider growth of subscription streaming.

“While there was never any doubt in the halls of Concord, that growth also sees the value of music being touted by bankers, institutional investors and alike,” Wisely said.

That is not only attracting buyers to existing catalogues and companies, but encouraging renewed investment in the next generation of songwriters, artists and composers.

A fast-changing music industry

There is plenty of positivity, then. But BMG’s Masuch in particular can be to be somewhat controversial in some of his views on the industry.

“What is surprising given the upturn driven by streaming is quite how few models and how little new thinking there is in the wider music industry,” he said. “There still seem to be some people who are hoping the 1990s are going to come back. They are not. On the contrary the trends which we see moving in our favour — more empowered artists demanding a greater say in their careers and a greater share of revenues — are if anything accelerating.”

“Those people who embrace this new world have the opportunity to flourish. For those who don’t, the future is less clear.”

This and more in the Midem 2018 News Magazine:

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