I went to the Web Summit in Lisbon last week and absolutely loved it.
Loved Lisbon and spent a total of 10 days there.
I attended all three days of the conference. The 3rd and last day was the one that interested me the most, with a stage entirely dedicated to music called ‘Music Notes’.
In this post I share my take over the music industry trends that emerged at the summit, then a quick snapshot of each of the music panels I attended.
Music industry trends
The new giants and decision makers in the music industry are the streaming services.
Through their playback algorithms, mass-customised playlists, artists features and social mechanics they greatly impact which songs/artists get discovered.
Artists have started sucking up to them and some are already striking deals with them; whilst labels seem to keep at their merciless fall, further losing their negotiation power.
The music industry is growing ($$$) but the economic model hasn’t been pinned down.
Different panelists affirmed that 2016 has seen the aggregated turnover of the music industry grow compared to last year, and firmly believe that the $$$ will continue increasing in the years to come.
Despite that nobody knows what shape the music industry will take…artists don’t, streaming services don’t, indie labels don’t, big labels don’t, managers don’t…nobody does. Really, nobody does…
No safe bets ahead but the recognition that streaming is huge.
There is no one-size-fit-all here but the gist of it is that if you already have a big-enough audience then it does not make much sense for you to partner up with a label and share profits; whilst if you are building a following and seeking to boost your audience size, then partnering with a label could be a great next step, with the idea that once you are big-enough you will go back controlling your own brand, independently.
The panels I attended, in order of interest
‘What’s an indie label to do these days?’
Bruce Pavitt (Sub Pop Records) and Jim Carroll (Irish Times)
Bruce Pavitt people!
He ran a remarkable panel telling it how it is; stay independent if you can or use labels as an accelerator for your career to then go independent again; Macklemoore, Chance the Rapper (possibly the most nominated artist throughout the day), and more are not signed to any label, hence maximising their own profits.
Bruce is also working on the 8stem project, really worth checking out. I applied to get my tracks re-mixed on his platform, wait and see!
‘The truth about the music industry’
with Tinie Tempah (musician), Hans-Holger Albrecht (Deezer), Eric Wahlforss (SoundCloud), Ne-Yo (musician), Andrew Flanagam (Billboard)
Old school musicians do not feel they are getting properly paid for their work as performers and songwriters; where 1M streams pays off roughly $90 (figure came from Ne-Yo and wasn’t disputed during the panel); ‘new’ musicians like Tinie Tempah seem to have a lesser sense of entitlement to bigger earnings and are personally managing their career 360 e.g. music production, social media, merchandising…
‘The new festival experience’
with Marian Goodell (Burning Man Project), Jonathan Mayers (Superfly), Gabrielle Korn (Nylon)
There has been a continuous sprouting of more and more festivals but only a few good ones; Burning Man and Superfly mobilise people by the tens of thousands and apart from music, they see themselves as promoters of community values but not responsible to run political agendas.
‘The building blocks of musical experience’
with Roland Lamb (ROLI)
Blocks by Roli, they call it the democratisation of making music.
Demo of a very cool product that will soon be distributed in Apple stores; I found it all the more interesting as I was already fascinated by the Oceanboard which I started to mess with starting in 2014 at the Silicon Milkroundabout in Bricklane, London.
‘Thoroughly modern manager’
with Tishawn Gayle (Compound Entertainment), Ted Chung (MERYY JANE & Stampede Management), Lily Mercer (Viper Magazine)
The role of the music manager has changed as music consumption did: moving money from one pocket to the other, with smaller margins for parasites and waste of resources; demanding increasing resourcefulness for those that try to stay in business.
The guys on stage weren’t smart, they were extra-smart, out of the norm individuals, entrepreneurs.
The role of a manager might change shape and there might be less artists that can afford one but those that know how to do their job will ultimately be any artist’s key to success.
‘Evolved entertainment booking’
with Ja Rule (Fyre), Billy McFarland (Fyre), MDavid Low (FyreBookings.com), Michael Hirschorn (Ish Entertainment)
FyreApp is changing the world of artists booking by trying to help private buyers and artists communicating directly.
Ja Rule and his team are working on yet another type of disintermediation in the music industry; getting rid of the middle-men that for too long have taken advantage of the communication gap to take their stake in all booking transactions.
‘The art of the hussle’
with Tinie Tempah (Musician), Dumi Oburota (Disturbing London), Andrew Flanagain (Billboard)
Tinie Tempah and his manager (and friend) Dumi shared the story of how their act came about, the continuous hussling for a few years, the breakthrough, and their business today. Nice guys, genuine talk and all interesting to hear for musicians like me.
‘Music production on the road’
with Thomas Gold (Thomas Gold), Gabrielle Korn (Nylon)
Thomas shared how he goes about producing his music when he is on the road.
Interesting term of comparison if you produce music yourself; in a nice way, but he seems to be a backup freak as he explained how he backs up his files in 3 different places because of one instance when his computer was stolen and it took him weeks to re-work on just a little fragment of all his stuff.
‘From the roots’
with Eric Wahlforss (SoundCloud), Eamonn Forde (Music Ally/The Guardian)
I didn’t find that much was covered or ‘uncovered’ with this talk possibly because Eric had already been on 2 other panels that I attended that day.
‘Innovate or die’
with Arabian Prince (NWA, iNov8 Next), Ravi Rajapakse (Blackfire Research), Eamonn Forde (Music Ally/The Guardian)
‘Talk to me’
with Ryan Leslie (SuperPhone), Nora Rothrock (Rothrickdigital)
‘Listening to change’
with Jonathan Levine (Master & Dynamic), Olly Mann (The Media Podcast)
‘Master of your own destiny’
with Ray J (Raytroniks), Billy Jones (Raytronics), Lily Mercer (Viper Magazine)