Tuesday, 5 February 2008

MusicTank conference : Deal or no Deal?

On 5thFebruary2008 I have attended one of the Music Tank conferences in MCPS-PRS Alliance with panel comprises: Mike Smith (MD, Columbia Records), Antony Bebawi (Director, Legal&Business Affairs, EMI Publishing UK), Adrian Bullock (Independant Royalty Consultant, Bullocks Limited), Chris Morrison (MD, CMO Management Ltd), David Stopps (Artist Manager, FML Music) and Keith Harris (Chairman MusicTank)

This day proved to be one of those days, which I call "free stuff days", I got discounts all the way through since the morning and that was pretty inspiring ;-) So the same thing happened when I came to MCPS-PRS Alliance and I was running late and I managed to get in for free, I guess mostly because it was a lucky day.
Everybofy knows that the music business is changing rapidly, unless you have been living in a tank since 2000 ;), mainly because of digital downloads that have made music almost free and therefore, some people are talking about the upcoming "death of the record industry". So I think that in many ways an opposite to this thing has been proven this night: it's not dying, It's just trying to find new ways of existance and furthermore - even more through digital formats, just like in that song last year: "hip-hop is not dead, it just immigrated"... On the other hand some of the most important things have been noted: music industry is going to function more because of live performances and merchandise + other sides of business where an artist could be involved, especially throgh signing a 360 degree deal with a record-company. Before you used to release a record and go on tour to support the sales, now - you would release a single and album to promote your future tour and through performing live you will actually earn a living. At this point, I realised two things: 1) I have been writing about it in my Master's Degree written work almost two years ago at Russian Academy of Music 2) this business model sounds really familiar - oh, yes of course, this looks just like music business in Russia! What was the main difference between the music industry worldwide, in US and UK, has faded away because of technology and the same thing as in Russia - bootlegers. OK, let's hope than that the way that worldwide music business will not take the worst example of Russian business in a similar situation, what I had run away from and escaped to UK hoping for the best and that is:
1) because people don't buy records, and you have to rely on live performances, it actually doesn' improve the quality, but worsens it, because the managers striving for getting as many gigs as possible for there artists in order to make more money go for pre-recorded playback instead of actually singing live. In Russia some of the artists do 60 gigs a month and in reality it is almost impossible to do even for the best singer in the world. So they just don't bother, they just put on a CD with playback - less work for the sound engineer too ... That also led to actually disappearance of real artists from the major scene and instead more of those people being brought into business just "to pose" who don't have anything to do with music at all, because lack of talent makes them easier to be controlled. A real singer wouldn't agree to everything and what's more wouldn't want to perform miming! And that's what they do on "Star Factory" - Russian equivalent of XFactor or American Idol - they just mime instead of singing!
2) The artists in Russia don't have any power. They don't even make money that much and people think that they are rich, but it's not true. Some of the most popular "artists" there get paid something like $100 - $200 and the rest goes to their executive producer, that's like the same money you can make performing in a general night club venue without depending on any body and doing your thing really live! But because there is no talent in those people, they put up with it because they know - they can easily be replaced if they complain and nobody would notice. They are not allowed in most cases even to write there own songs. They have no choice. They are nobody.
3) The venture capital that is represented by the money of oligarhs and those rich people in Russia. That actually led to this progression: big money -----> pay for the music -----> monopoly on the market, influence on the media like radio, TV etc. -----> if you can get one of the big guys to invest in you a certain fee you are half way through. On the other hand it just left everybody outside the boat, it mean independant artists have no way, just "NO WAY" of getting through to the major audience. Because the TV and radio belongs to certain people there. But not Internet ;-)

well, let's hope that this decadance will never happen in US, UK and in other countries, my hopes could be based on the following: 1) people here are much more musically educated than in Russia, I am talking about general public
2) as has been said tonight that "Music is more popular these days than ever. You see people walking down the street with iPods, listening to it all the time." "You can also see, that general audience is looking broader, not concentrating only on the major acts, but on smaller artists and that shows that people have broader tastes." It is good that people from record-companies actually see that and talk and care about the "consumer" so much. That means they respect people's freedom of choice and probably, this would be an example of better development into something positive of the same business model.


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