Radio and Music are the two subjects that panels concentrated on during the opening day of the 37thannual Canadian Music Week Conference.
Topics included the Big Global Music Picture, money-managing, VR, self-marketing, Linda Perry and much, much more.
Here's a summary of what we took in:
9:35 a.m. State of the Global Music Industry
The good news is that the state of the Global Music Industry is enjoying a surge in popularity, although panel moderator Jackie Dean, Music Canada COO, warns “that we still have a lot of work to do,” to make sure the biz is thriving and everyone is properly compensated.
Still, you couldn’t be disappointed by the fact that IFPI’s Head of Consumer Insight, Sundus Ali, reports that streaming has increased 34% in general and Nielsen Music’s David Bakula says streaming in Canada is up 41%. As the growth continues, the good news for radio is that it’s still the most reliable source for music discovery – and this is according to the paid streaming community. CMPA executive director Margaret McGuffin says two-thirds of publishing revenues come from foreign sources and SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste says collection numbers have never been better. Ticketmaster Canada Chairman Patti-Anne Tarlton says her company is trying to make digital access to the thriving live scene easier for consumers. So, at the moment, apart from the fair value compensation topic, Canada’s biggest problem at the moment is branding: seems that not everyone is aware that Drake, Shawn Mendes, The Weeknd, and Alessa Cara are domestic exports almost as popular as wheat. Identity crisis? What identity crisis? (Nick Krewen).
10:35 a.m. Balancing Money & Music: Supporting Your Dream Career
Money is always a musician’s concern, and this very well-attended panel provided instructive and entertaining information to make sense of the situation.
Ably moderated by Amanda Power, Unison Benevolent Fund ED, music industry accountant panelists Sam Arraj and Joe Bartok delivered sage budget advice on keeping CRA-friendly records and how Excel can be an artist’s best friend when it comes to keeping track of income and expenses. Surprise! The use of a professional accountant also came highly recommended. But the show-stealer was Vanessa Vakharia, singer of Toronto indie rockers Goodnight, Sunrise, whose candid confessions of money struggles – the fact that her band wasn't paid a cent to open a Bon Jovi arena gig in Toronto – underlined the difficulties of survival. Vakharia did offer some useful tips on how to increase fees for gigs – and the session concluded with Power explaining Unison's work, which she termed "a safety net for anyone involved in the Canadian music industry. Our goal is to keep you going." For many, Unison’s work is mission accomplished. (Kerry Doole)
10:35 a.m. The Impact of AR/VR and MR on the Music Fan Experience
While the considerable buzz surrounding Virtual Reality, Altered Reality and Mixed Reality has died dramatically – as evidenced by this sparsely attended panel - the desire to give live music fans an immersive experience by well-meaning entrepreneurs, hasn’t.
Michael Hodson, founder of VR Only, for example, has done a number of artist-driven venue events with mixed results. According to him, some venues are short-sighted, demanding cash his Texas company can’t afford, but others are helping out with the hope that eventually he can open the concert experience to a disenfranchised audience that may not be able to get to a Coachella or may be too young to get into a licensed venue. This will result in a revenue-sharing model that can benefit both performers and suggested a revenue-sharing platform for the future. (i.e. selling 5000 tickets for a venue event that holds 500 real-life capacity. Oculus/Facebook’s Nate Barsetti is also bullish about his company’s newest headset, but a groundbreaking event seems necessary to get the music populace excited about VR/AR and MR again. (Nick Krewen)
11.45 a.m Master Class With Linda Perry
Linda Perry won’t win any awards for humility.
The L.A.-based former 4 Non Blondes founder declared – in all seriousness – that “I knew I was born a rock star” and seems intent to live up to the motto. Colourfully outspoken – a striking figure with a big hat and multiple tats, Perry told Peermusic’s Cheryl Link about her latest venture: We Are Hear, new label, management, and publishing company. Labelling it "a response to the lack of community in the LA music scene,” Perry criticized the inability of the major labels to nurture creative talent, claimed "people want albums again," and pledged to focus on legacy artists.
Perry also spent some time offering candid yet constructive criticism of some of the songs nervous songwriters and artists submitted to showcase their wares. She urged singers and songwriters to "just go for it. Why are we so safe?"No surprise that this session drew a full house of artists, songwriters, and producers, given that US hitmaker Perry has had significant success in all three roles with artists like Pink and Christina Aguilera. She further endeared herself by expressing her distaste of new country, and gave this as her mantra: "I just wanna hear a fuckin' great song and passion - not your $15K demo." (Kerry Doole)
12:15 p..m. = Global Forum International Luncheon: The Soundtrack to Democracy – Music’s Political and Social Power
Keynote speaker Dave Randall came armed with a book – Sound System: The Political Power of Music, which addressed the premise of this Music Canada-sponsored panel: how the role of music brings about change and how change is all about resistance and courage.
And sometimes that resistance comes from the musical establishment.
“The playing field is steeply sloped in favour of the owners of national radio stations, daily newspapers, record companies, digital platforms, management agencies, festivals, booking agencies and so on,” Randall explains. “If an artist is thought to be too politically controversial, the industry gatekeepers can refuse them entry, shelve their releases, and decline to book them. “Sometimes this will take the form of official ‘blacklists’, but more commonly it’ll be a subtle sidelining of a career.”
At least two Canadian artists have felt the power of both change and courage.
Lorraine Segato admitted she didn’t foresee the empowering impact her Parachute Club recording Rise Up would have on a generation. Digging Roots’ ShoShona Kish knows all about the struggles of First Nation artists and a people shunned to the margins of society.
And British musician Randall concludes that “sometimes music and musicians have been absolutely central to critical moments of mass struggle. They have helped give confidence to long-oppressed people, helped unite people around a set of political demands. Some have paid the highest possible price for their courage.” (Bill King)
2 p.m. Programming 2020 Masterclass
The biggest news to come out of this panel is that Numeris is switching its mode of data collection to continuous measurement.
But almost immediately after he laid out his company’s grand plan, Ross Davies, Numeris Canada’s GM, Radio – faced scepticism from panel colleagues. He mentioned that the reason behind the change was because the old methods were no longer working – diaries weren’t being returned and calling listeners on landlines was no longer workable – people either delayed answering their phones or didn’t answer them at all. The revised model is as follows: as of August 12, Numeris is collecting data every second week and issuing a Fall 2019 Book that is a one-time hybrid of current and new models.: 50% of new target sample (6 weeks) combined with 50% of the most recent market survey (Spring 2019 or Fall 2018). Release Dates: Fall 2019 – November 28, 2019, Spring 2020 – May 28, 2020. Opponents worried that incorporating old info might muddy the ratings picture, but Davies says the whole system would be worked out within a year and that Numeris would be open to feedback. (Bill King)
2:55 p.m. Rethinking How to Market Yourself
Judging by the near-capacity turnout for “Rethinking How to Market Yourself,” lots of musicians, labels, and promoters are finding this promotion thing a tough nut to crack.
A better question might have been: can one genuinely “workshop” a topic as broad as marketing in 25 minutes? Dave Videka, president at Rooftop Agency — who delivered a rapid-fire monologue without taking questions — gave it the old college try. Pulling from his experience in the music business and deep dives into “lifestyle marketing” (think Heineken and Jägermeister), Videka identified the keystones of effective self-advertising in 2019. They are three: micro-influencers — who may have fewer followers than so-called marquee influencers but considerably more sway with their community — should be the focal point. Consumer engagement is, like, huge; you must find a meaningful way to talk to your audience. And content really is king, the place where you show your personality and the means to leveraging those esteemed micro-influencers. Bonus round: “Successful marketing is creating layers of touchpoints” and don’t reject brand partnerships out of hand… but also don’t hound Vans for money if your closet is full of Nikes. ( Kim Hughes)
2.55 p.m. How Streaming Has Changed Investment in Music Catalogue
This short session was presented by music industry analyst Zach Fuller, from Midia Research, UK.
He has studied the recent boom in music publishing mergers and acquisitions and came up with some interesting stats and observations. At times the barrage of figures became a mite confusing, but the key number is $U.S. 19.8B: the latest annual total of global music revenues. This represented a 7.9% increase over the previous year, and, thanks to increased streaming, this was the fourth straight year of increased business revenue. That has impressed financiers, and Fuller observed that access to capital has been freed up. "Publishing acquisitions expenditure has surged of late," he noted, citing recent moves by Round Hill's purchase of Carlin Music and Primary Wave's acquisition of Blue Mountain Publishing (Island), He did, however, caution against over-valuation, noting "there are hints of bubble economics now." (Kerry Doole)
3:25 p.m. The Digital Marketing Puzzle
With a combined 150 years of experience between them, the speakers on this hotly anticipated panel moderated by artist manager Jake Gold — including radio promo vet Dale Peters, publicist/manager Joanne Setterington, and product manager Erin Kinghorn — definitely brought heaps of wisdom, though Gold was quick to toss aside the “digital” aspect of the panel’s title.
Marketing is marketing is marketing, he intoned. And with that, they proved it. The first order of business was highlighting specific marketing fails. These proved illuminating, with lessons learned including (but not limited to): the quality of songs is everything; the best-laid marketing campaign can and will be sidelined by incorrect ISRC codes; unrealistic expectations are a killer; radio doesn’t break acts, it plays hits… and buzzwords like “touchpoints,” “metrics” and “moving the dial,” though woefully overused, nevertheless capture a business that is equal parts brainy strategy, ballsy execution, and good old fashioned horseshoes. (Kim Hughes)
3.25: In-Depth Interview With Canada's Global Music Biz Superstar: Merck Mercuriadis
He’s come a long way from his Virgin Music Canada days. Since he left Canada 35 years ago, Merck Mercuriadis has become a superstar artist manager for Elton John, Beyonce, Guns N' Roses, and Iron Maiden. His influence has escalated rapidly of late via his role as CEO, Founder and managing partner of Hipgnosis Music Ltd, and head of the Hipgnosis Songs Fund, a publicly-traded acquisition vehicle started last year to purchase back catalogs of celebrated songwriters. Calling himself "an artist advocate," he explained that "we are a songs company, first and foremost. We have spent three years educating investors on the fact that hit songs are investment-worthy, like gold or oil."
The Fund has quickly raised a total of $485M (US), and Mercuriadis stresses "there is a strategy in what we buy. We are looking at songs we consider culturally important, and we intend to manage each song." He aims to leverage this success to boost the fortunes of songwriters, who he believes are still unfairly treated.
"We see streaming as the saviour of the music business," he stated, adding that "for the first time ever, the passive consumer is paying for music." Citing the projected figure of 2 billion streaming subscribers by 2030, he predicts the likes of Spotify and Apple Music "will be swimming in money. We have a duty to help them succeed, but without picking on the writers."
Mercuriadis brought his partner (and management client) Nile Rodgers onstage, then announced surprise guest Dave Stewart (Eurythmics). Stewart signed a deal onstage for Hipgnosis to acquire his music catalogue and stated that "I have noticed songwriters sliding down the scale of recognition. That is irritating, like having something in your eye." An illuminating session.- (Kerry Doole)
4:15 p.m. Global Music Landscape: Getting Discovered, Played and Paid
Sometimes a title really does say it all. You’ve been discovered, made great music, been streamed from Delhi to Dakar. Now how do you get paid? Collections frameworks are as unique as the countries they serve, and while having an international hit is cool, so is paying your gas bill. The very complex subject of rights management and international royalties was adroitly tackled by a very knowledgeable group that included globe-trotting moderator Jodie Ferneyhough. And while it lacked the snappy language of marketing panels, the 45-minute Global Music Landscape session was salted with some tremendously interesting stuff. To wit, Singapore, with 5.5M people, contributes 0.2 percent of global music revenue. China, with 1.7M, contributes just a smidge more. Mmm. America used to be the place artists most hoped to break, and the most likely to pay them when they did. Today, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East are the hotspots — Spotify landed 1M subscribers in its first month in India this past March — and that listenership almost certainly will impact what pop music sounds like going forward, how it is sold, how monies are made…. and how they are chased. If one message came through most resonantly, it was: it’s a small world alright but one with many, many moving parts. ( Kim Hughes)