BRIT Trust Diaries: ELAM's Matt Sheldon on how embracing diversity can boost the creative economy

In the latest BRIT Trust Diaries blog, we focus on education and the untapped potential the creative industries could achieve by more fully embracing diversity, equity and inclusivity.  ELAM, a college for 16-19 year olds, which prides itself on a ...

Vatom global director of entertainment Steve Machin on the power of Web3 for live's hybrid future

Steve Machin was appointed as global director of entertainment at Web3 company Vatom this summer. London-based Machin joined the firm in order to drive Web3-powered fan engagement and experiences.  Following senior corporate roles at Ticketmaster Europe and Live Nation, Machin worked in the independent sector as an entrepreneur and co-founder of businesses ranging from data analysis to livestreaming. Here, he explains why the music business and live sector needs to focus on building music experiences in the metaverse… The live music industry has always been at the forefront of integrating new technology into fan experiences. From the earliest custom quadraphonic sound systems, all the way through to the recent launch of ABBA Voyage, artist holograms on festival stages, or record-breaking livestreams, technology continues to transform the ways we can engage with the music that we love.  Creating new channels for authentic fan connections is one of the things I love about working in the innovation space, and I’ve never been more excited than I am about the potential that Web3 offers. Post-pandemic, fans are demanding more: more memorable experiences, increased personalisation, and immersive interactions that expand the breadth of IRL events. According to research from Live Stream and New York Magazine, 87% of audiences would watch an event online if it meant more behind-the-scenes content, and research from YPulse suggests that 37% of Gen Z are interested in attending a concert in a video game.  The potential of Web3 and digital technologies to increase fan engagement was evidenced during Travis Scott’s nine-minute Fortnite concert. With more than 12.3m people attending, Travis Scott netted $20m in merchandise, compared to $53.5m for the entire real-life Astroworld tour, according to Forbes.  Giving Fans What they WantWith the emergence of a hybrid live music industry comes higher expectations from a new generation of fans – expectations that bridge the gap between the in-person experiences we’ve yearned for and the virtualised perks that we’ve grown to expect, as well as brand new experiences. This is where Web3 really shines - the evolution from Web2 and the collision of the digital and physical worlds has opened a new horizon of possibilities for artists to connect seamlessly with fans and concertgoers in ways that we have been dreaming about.  That said, Web3 technology is still not being embraced to its fullest potential. At its core, Web3 essentially enables communities to thrive. This is especially important in music, where livelihoods are dictated based on the health of, and connection to, fandoms. While digital wallets, NFTs, or even metaverses may seem overly complex or irrelevant, they are literally the keys to cultivating communities in a new democratised, creator-first ecosystem.  With the emergence of a hybrid live music industry comes higher expectations from a new generation of fans Steve Machin Artists and brands embracing a Web3 approach have found some success as they trailblaze a new frontier of personalised, hybrid experiences. Take for example the latest endeavour from pioneers Richie Hawtin and Deadmau5, a newly unveiled IRL and URL network that enables everything from new music unlocked through NFTs to gamified content with exclusive rewards. And earlier this year, The Weeknd announced the integration of Web3 opportunities into his latest tour that will include exclusive NFTs accompanied by co-branded merchandise and the ability for attendees to use their virtual ticket stubs to redeem collectible NFTs and gain access to exclusive events.  As a sector, we are beginning to bring music, the reputed ‘universal language,’ and the border-defying, decentralised technologies of Web3 into harmony… but what does that mean for artists right now? It's simple, don’t wait! As the proverb says, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is today.” It isn’t necessary to fully understand Web3 services to start using them today to quickly and easily engage, and importantly, empower fans at any level, from evangelist to enthusiast. There are many simple first “test and learn” steps that can be taken to drive outcome-focused activities that result in real connection and impact.   It's not just about replacing a ticket with an NFT or hosting a virtual concert, it's about using the power of Web3 to create a long-term, valuable and direct relationship between fans and the artists they love.  Invite fans to an exclusive immersive listening party in the artist’s own virtual microverse, building community connections and sharing music far outside the confines of a concert or festival. If you want to add revenue, create exclusive merch items for fans’ avatars to wear wherever they go online – remember, the metaverse is by definition a collection of interoperable spaces.  Reward loyal fans with NFTs that give them a preview of a new song if they share the NFT with a friend - helping to expand the fan community.  We already have the ability to start elevating the live industry with functional digital toolkits that allow us to surprise and delight fans, build loyal communities, and bring new commercial opportunities to bear. The only question that remains is, what will your next step be?  

Listening our way to better health: Grace Meadows, campaign director, Music for Dementia

By Grace Meadows, campaign director, Music for Dementia and music therapist Since the pandemic, countless reports outlined how the world turned to music during Covid-19’s darkest days. For millions around the world, it became an important source of comfort, something that helped us get through the daily threats to our physical and mental wellbeing.  And for many, difficult times remain. As we navigate a cost-of-living crisis, on top of living with the longtail impacts of the pandemic, mental health of both young and old is fragile and at a tipping point. As a result, music continues to be used as a tool of distraction.  But I believe it also presents an opportunity. At a time when the nation’s health is in need, the NHS and our social care system are under unprecedented strain, we must consider leveraging music as more than a mere tool of distraction.  Music has powerful health and wellbeing properties for people of all ages with a range of conditions. For those living with dementia, there is nothing like music to enhance and enrich life. But it can also lower anxiety for someone with a mental health condition, help create a shared experience for a neurodiverse child, or reduce a person’s sense of loneliness.  Having music readily available at the click of a link or download, can literally mean the difference between being unnecessarily medicated and having a better quality of life because of meaningful connections created through music.   It is this ripple effect of the health value of music that is missing from the conversation, which to me seems remarkable given how much we love music as a nation.   Music has powerful health and wellbeing properties for people of all ages with a range of conditions Grace Meadows More of us are accessing music digitally than ever before as identified in the recent CMA Music and Streaming market study update, which highlighted that there are 39 million monthly active users of streaming services in the UK – about half the population.   The CMA’s recent study also suggested that technological innovations have brought the benefits of affordability. This matters given there are a significant number of people in this country unable to access mental health service and at a time of rising costs.  The Power of Music report published in April this year, co-authored by Music for Dementia and UK Music, set out a blueprint for how we can be harnessing the power of music to support health and wellbeing with a set of actionable and practical recommendations. One of which was a digital service.   We are delighted that partners such as Universal Music UK, alongside other key stakeholders, are committed to leading on the development of ‘Music Can’, an innovative platform which will support people with dementia and those caring for them to embed music into daily care.  By providing access to information, resources, training, a shared community, and digital music offers, Music Can will help to ensure that the value of music extends beyond the economic benefits it brings to the UK and it becomes much more widely recognised and used as a public health tool to support health and wellbeing.   We want to ensure the recommendations from the Power of Music report are brought to life. That’s why we are lobbying for a Power of Music Commissioner, who will be able to lead on this work, encourage others to join the likes of Universal Music UK in making the change we all need to see happen to make music a key part of health and social care.

Centre Stage: Mark Davyd

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Digital Discourse: Sammy Andrews on the cost-of-living crisis and the future of music streaming

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Centre Stage: Mark Davyd

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