opinion

Viewpoint: Blue Raincoat's Robin Millar on the importance of music biz apprenticeships

Ten years ago, under the stewardship of EMI CEO Eric Nicoli, myself and 11 fellow music execs formed a council to identify skills needed for the music industry. We canvassed far and wide and found, to our surprise, that the ...

Rising Star: Meet JEM Music Group's Matt Dodds

How did you get into the industry? I’ve wanted to be in the industry since I was 14. During breaks at school, I’d spend my time reading Donald Passman’s guide to the music industry. I’d highlight the shit out of it even though I didn’t understand a word. At 16, I was doing internships across the Universal labels, but I got my break at 19 with Colin Lester at Twenty First Artists. I was at TFA for a year before Colin set up JEM. He took myself and Alex Fisher with him and we’ve been at JEM ever since.  What is the key to good music management? Firstly, put music first. We can all get caught up in stats, but without great music everything else is irrelevant. Before doing anything with your artist, make sure you have quality. It’s easy to get distracted by playlists and Facebook likes, but that should always be secondary. Secondly, for young managers, it’s important to not let your ego get in the way of learning. All of us youngsters are guilty of thinking we know it all, but working with someone that’s been doing it for 35 years, I’m reminded on a daily basis that I know fuck all in the grand scheme of things.  What issues do managers face? The same issues that there have always been. There are only so many great artists in this world and finding them is difficult. The industry wants content at such a relentless pace that not everything can be pure quality. Artists need to be given the time and space to make timeless music without being worried that they’re going to lose monthly listeners on Spotify if they don’t put something out every month. There’s too much focus on releasing music and not enough on making it great.   How do you see the biz’s future? I’m positive about it. The demand for music is never going to diminish, so it’s just about finding the best ways to facilitate that demand which benefit both artists and the people in the background. I definitely think it’s getting there. I do think, however, that there needs to be a bigger focus on teaching A&R. I’ve been lucky enough to jointly A&R two Craig David LPs, and I’ve learned a lot from being given the freedom to get on with it.   What’s the most difficult situation you’ve encountered so far? One day you can feel like you’ve had a major breakthrough and, the day after, you can be crashing back down to earth. That’s just the way it is though and is part of the fun. Stick together during the difficult times and celebrate the good! What’s your biggest ambition? To be involved in timeless music. I want to be in my 80s and have my grandchildren know about records I’ve been involved with.

The car's the star: Why the in-car streaming battle will mean big changes for the music biz

The streaming battleground has already taken over the office and the living room, now not even your car is safe. Not for nothing did Spotify – who tend to know a thing or two about this stuff – flag in-car streaming as one area of potential growth ahead of their IPO. Major label execs also noted it as a sector to watch at their IFPI press briefing this week. After all, drivers are the one type of audience everybody involved in music loves: a captive one. Even better, a captive one that can only consume entertainment with its ears, not its eyes. Until relatively recently, in-car listening meant CDs or the radio and, as anyone who’s ever driven anywhere on a Bank Holiday Monday will know, those options can seem pretty limited when you’re sat on a stationary M25 for hours. Streaming offers a potentially limitless, ever-changing soundtrack that could take you from road rage to bliss between a single junction. Add in voice control and it seems like a perfect solution, albeit one prone to backseat driver intervention. Except that the bewildering array of in-car listening options, with huge variations between different makes and models, never mind the various DSPs, means that the full on the road streaming experience can still seem more complicated than negotiating the Hanger Lane Gyratory System during rush hour. And that’s before any issues with connectivity. Deals such as Spotify's recent tie-up with Cadillac will help with that, and the music biz and the motor industry clearly see each other’s value, as that Paloma Faith Skoda ad shows. And the biz never let obstacles prevent it from offering a range of ruthlessly targeted options for listening at home, work or on public transport. So streaming needs to put its foot down when it comes to finding a unified approach to in-car entertainment. But those in the CD compilations business and running drivetime radio shows also need to buckle up, because their once serene ride is about to get very bumpy…

Slipped discs: Why the biz needs to give CDs as much love and attention as vinyl

Spotify the difference: Why the streaming giant's IPO will affect labels' relationships with artists

No more killing your friends: Why collaboration is the way forward for the label biz

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