opinion

A decade of decadence? Why the music biz should expect the unexpected in the Roaring '20s

Welcome to the Roaring, Soaring '20s! As executives slowly eases themselves back into work and a new decade, it’s worth contemplating how far we’ve come since the biz edged, much more tentatively into the 2010s. Back then, the recorded music ...

A time for forgiving? Why the music biz should unite in 2020

It’s the season of peace on earth, but that is not the story of the music industry’s 2019. Depending on your perspective, this has either been a vintage year or anabsolute annus horribilis for music biz rows. Whether it’s Taylor Swift’s on-going dispute with Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun (Swift and Borchetta are pictured in happier times); the indies’ complaints about Universal and Tencent; or Spotify versus the songwriters (or Warner Music or Apple or…), the illusion of the music community’s united front has been well and truly shattered. None of these disputes are unjustified, but many of them could have been avoided with a little more care and respect. During the pre-streaming slump, there was broad solidarity within the biz, as companies and executives clubbed together in the face of an extremely challenging environment. But now that the biz is once again awash with cash – this time with the sort of profit margins that would have been dismissed as the stuff of a madman’s dreams back in the ’90s – that togetherness is being challenged. It’s no real surprise that Spotify have been at the heart of so many disputes this year. The streaming service began as a start-up, rapidly became the market-leader and now finds itself the subject of intense competition from deep-pocketed rivals. Now it’s a public company, it does what most public companies do: seek out the biggest possible prize by using every bit of leverage it has. When the biz was in the doldrums, neither the prize nor the leverage were really big enough to justify such disputes. Today, both have been super-scaled, which means some are prepared to ditch successful partnerships and long alliances at the first drop of a hefty cheque. This may just be the festive spirit(s) talking, but does it have to be this way? Despite the recovery, there are still industry-wide issues that need solving, and are only likely to be fixed by working together. And the global political climate, including the dreaded Brexit becoming a reality, will make things more challenging for everyone. As explored in the new, bumper Christmas edition of Music Week, artists and songwriters, for so long the Bob Cratchits of the biz hoping for a few crumbs from the table, are now reasserting their rights and, while others in the industry might lose out slightly by helping them out, it seems likely everyone would benefit in the long run. After all, the ghosts of the music industry past will tell you that everything is cyclical. The boom years won’t last forever so instead, why not plan ahead and extend the season of ‘good will to all’ into 2020 and beyond? Merry Christmas! * The bumper Christmas edition of Music Week is in all good newsagents now. To secure your copy of this very special issue, email Rachael Hampton on rachael.hampton@futurenet.com. To subscribe to Music Week and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

Viewpoint: Sammy Andrews on the alignment of ticketing and streaming

If you’ve ever heard me rant at a conference over the last 10 years, or been at dinner with me after two glasses of Pinot Noir, you’ll know I’ve been banging the drum for a while now on the potential for ticketing within streaming services and social networks. I’m still genuinely surprised none of the live giants have bought a streaming service yet. Although, on the other side of the coin, it’s worth noting Access Industries appear to be barking up that tree with their current portfolio, which includes Deezer and Songkick. Vivendi also has See Tickets, Paylogic and stakes in various streaming services. There have also been disasters in this space, with the likes of Amazon Tickets and Pandora buying (and then selling) Ticketfly but, one thing’s for sure, it’s an interesting space right now, even if some people have not fully realised its potential. On the whole, there is still a long way to go before technology, data and the music industry collide to become truly significant globally, but with the news that TikTok is rolling out ticketing capability in South East Asia and with the continued success of Spotify’s Who We Be shows, now is a good time to have a little look at where we are and where we might go. YouTube integrated ticketing a couple of years back and you can now sell there via AXS, Eventbrite and Ticketmaster in the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and, as of last month, the UK. There’s still a long way to go with joining the dots; they don’t offer any form of notification system like some others to fully utilise Google’s insane data pots. That feels like a missed opportunity for everyone (and a missed ad product for Google). Out of all the major streaming services, Google not only knows what you’re listening to and watching but likely what you’re searching for, how many event-based Google Ads you’ve clicked on and what you’re buying your granny for Xmas. But for now, if an artist channel is opted-in to, dates appear under that artist’s videos with ticketing links. Spotify is still one of the smarter ticketing tests out there. Their tour pre-sales have long helped not only boost initial sales, whilst having a real fan reward feel about them, but they undoubtedly also raise general awareness of tours taking place. Spotify stands out from the pack for me because they actually use their listening data to communicate with fans about shows and music they are very likely to be interested in. Their subsequent integrations with companies like AXS, Eventbrite, Songkick et al allow API scrapes to update artists’ listings and are a great addition outside of any comms direct to fans. They were early to the game with Songkick integration (we all know how that particular cookie crumbled) but the potential for what they could do in this space is incredible. Not to mention how it could drive revenue if they integrate some new ad products around it, along with affiliate revenue on sales. Facebook and ticketing... Again, it’s only in limited territories but Facebook have both tried, tested and, in many cases, implemented various ticketing solutions over the last few years, with both big name ticketing companies such as AXS and Ticketmaster, and event-owners direct via a partnership with Eventbrite. They’ve seen ticketing success in all manner of areas, including sport and cinema in-app, and music is no different in active territories. But if the rumours of an alleged new Facebook streaming service are to be believed, we’d all do well to keep an eye on the bigger potential there going forward. Pandora’s entry to ticketing was a costly one. They bought Ticketfly for a pretty hefty sum back in 2015 but went on to sell it to Eventbrite, for much less. Since their SiriusXM acquisition they’re revisiting those relationships and earlier this year they integrated with Ticketmaster’s API in a set-up much like that of Spotify: on-sale notifications based on location and listening habits. Outside of the API scrapes, artists can access these functionalities direct via the back-end AMP facilities. Tencent is also a really interesting case in point here. When we look across global markets, they’ve fingers in more pies than your local baker, stretching across just about every sector in our industry (and beyond). If the reported UMG investment completes, Tencent would be a real beast to contend with on the global stage and I don’t doubt for a second this is likely one of the many reasons IMPALA has said it’s going to contest it. And finally to TikTok. I’ve written before about some of the bonkers numbers we’re seeing on ads there but, with parent company Bytedance’s streaming service waiting in the wings (with reportedly a real emphasis on social functions), and the unstoppable rise of TikTok installs, this is absolutely an interesting offering, globally. Of course, these progressions come with their own challenges: the ever-complicated live industry with its allocations, bids, secondary ticketing and the rise of dynamic pricing… But if I could offer some advice to the ticketing industry it would be: Get mobile, get innovative, get integrated.

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