'We're all fierce competitors': Major label execs on the global challenge in the streaming era

'We're all fierce competitors': Major label execs on the global challenge in the streaming era

The latest IFPI figures in the Global Music Report confirmed the rise of Asia and South America, as consumers in both regions embrace streaming services. India has even experienced a physical boom, alongside a growing market for DSPs.

In the second part of our Q&A on the the IFPI Global Music Report, international execs from Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment take a closer look at the key emerging markets…

China has moved up to No.7 on the IFPI chart – is that set to be a rapid growth market?

Stu Bondell, EVP, business and legal affairs, international, Sony Music Entertainment: “We hope that trend continues. It’s a question of moving consumers more and more to a licensed model. It’s a very small fraction of the population now with the licensed services, so with a population of a billion people the potential is hopefully huge. The job of the record companies is to get our music front and centre and make it key parts of all the services. We continue to need to have models that attract the consumer and build the pie for everybody.” 

How significant is India likely to be as an emerging market?

Adam Granite, EVP, market development, Universal Music Group: “India is definitely on the long-term horizon to continue to grow. We’re seeing large numbers now join the streaming revolution. It’s going to take some time, though, to move a large percentage of them behind a paywall.”

What other emerging markets would you identify as key for the music industry?

Stu Bondell: “The rest of Asia, I think Latin America – there is going to be a huge expansion there as we’ve seen those markets come online with legitimate services. The potential for Latin music to travel the world is huge right now. I think that’s going to be a game-changer.”

How does that affect Western music exports? 

Stu Bondell: “As the statistics show, the business is becoming much more about local music around the world, which means there’s an opportunity for local music in all the markets. But it’s also a challenge for incoming music to compete with local music. So it’s a delicate dance now – there’s a lot of opportunity but challenges as well." 

The business is becoming much more about local music around the world

Stu Bondell

Following the row between Warner and Spotify in India, how do you feel about this more combative mood in the growing music industry?

Stu Bergen, CEO, international and commercial services, Warner Music Group: “Company to company, we’re all fierce competitors out there. But when we come together with the IFPI, we’re driving what we believe is in the best interests of the industry for the long-term health of a business we all are passionate about. There are always negotiations, I wouldn’t describe them as combative.”

How do you foresee the legal row with Spotify in India playing out?

Stu Bergen: “It will be resolved, absolutely. Any negotiation or situation where there are multiple parties involved, it’s impossible to say what timeline it is. But we’re hopeful that we’ll come to a good understanding with a partner who we’ve been in business with for a long time.”

How important is Africa going to be as an emerging market for the music industry?

Stu Bondell: “We’re very active in Africa, in multiple countries. There are challenges in moving the population to a pay model because a lot of the recurring payment models are based on credit cards, which are not readily available to the population in most of Africa. Much more of those services are pay-as-you-go, so it’s really a very different business model than in the rest of the world right now.” 

IFPI’s biggest global album of last year was The Greatest Showman. But is it good to see more artists securing No.1 albums in 2019? 

Stu Bergen: “It’s always great to see artists [selling strongly]. But [The Greatest Showman] was one of the breakout stories that keep the business interesting. When something connects on such a broad and exciting level, I think it’s good for the business regardless of whether it’s an artist or a soundtrack.” 

Adam Granite:Billie Eilish had already done over a billion streams before she put out her debut album, so she was off to a very strong start. We’ve seen incredible amounts of consumption of her new album – not just songs from the album – by her fans around the world. So we firmly believe that she will be one of the biggest artists in the world this year and next year.”

To read the first part of the Q&A, subscribers can click here.

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