opinion

Viewpoint: Chrysalis founder Chris Wright on the Brexit 'nightmare'

Like it or not, Brexit is coming, whether on October 31 or some future date to be determined. But, as the worrying prospect of a ‘no deal’ departure continues to loom, Chrysalis Records founder Chris Wright argues that leaving the ...

Tech it for granted: Why the music biz still needs instinct as well as data to succeed in the digital age

It’s the Music Week Tech Summit Together With O2 this week. And, as hundreds of delegates from both music and technology companies descend on The O2 for a day of debate and information-sharing, the time seems right to have a look at the relationship between the two sectors. It wasn’t so very long ago that music and tech felt more like adversaries than partners and, while that’s no longer the case (bar the odd streaming spat), the bond between the two still needs careful nurturing. The beauty of tech from a music point of view is that it delivers information about an artist’s audience that was once out of reach to labels, managers and live execs. But the key question remains: what do you actually do with that information once you have it? So not for nothing will Apple Music global creative director Zane Lowe’s closing keynote be on the subject of “Keeping the humanity in music”. Because the music business has to resist the temptation to let the data do all the work and make all the decisions – or, as Lowe says: “I don’t want to be influenced by an algorithm, I’d like to influence it myself”. That’s good to hear, because while there are conflicting reports about whether the time consumers spend listening to music is up or down (the IFPI says up, Nielsen says down), you don’t need a survey to tell you it’s audience engagement levels that really matter. That's why the three-second social media rule revealed in Music Week by Facebook's Vanessa Bakewell (also a Tech Summit speaker) is so important. And why an elective stream is surely worth a hundred passive ones (even if the charts compilers don’t yet agree). Labels now have all the information they could ever wish for. But they also have huge numbers of talented staff whose ears should trump any algorithm when it comes to finding new talent. And, while the music biz used to laugh at the movie industry for changing creative decisions in order to give the audience what they said they wanted, heading down a similar road risks removing the bold decision-making and innovation behind most of the greatest records ever made. The best results always come from balancing the two concerns. Back in the early days of streaming, you could pretty much guarantee an explosive panel debate on the subject of ‘data vs gut instinct’ as old school methods clashed with new school theory. Don’t expect too much of that at this year’s Tech Summit, as the debate has moved on. Because these days, you need both to get the best for your artist. * The Music Week Tech Summit takes place at the O2 in London on Tuesday, October 8. For everything you need to know about the event, click here. For last minute ticket availability, visit musicweektechsummit.com.

Tech talk: The Orchard's Chris Manning on the future of distribution

The biz is gearing up for the Music Week Tech Summit together with O2 on Tuesday (October 8). The second edition of the event at The O2 in London features a host of top names, including execs from Amazon Music, Facebook, Live Nation and UTA. The Orchard is a gold sponsor this year and the company’s GM for the UK & Europe, Chris Manning, will be providing key insights during the Next Generation Music Distribution: What does the future hold? panel. Here, Manning shares his vision for the sector… “The labels and artists we work with are central to everything we do as a distributor and they will always be the core of our work, as music is what drives our business. Distribution is taking many forms of business models, which I believe to be a good thing in a competitive marketplace as it allows companies to look to innovation to stay ahead of the curve. The routes to market have never been so plentiful within our industry. Distribution needs to continue to be agile, innovative and at the forefront of everything it supports.  “Data is a given factor in the future of distribution. We’ll look to artificial intelligence, how it can help us to interpret data, as well as forecast business models, create marketing plans and make strategic decisions. The Orchard already works with vast amounts of data both internally and with our artists and labels. From sales analytics, streaming information to accounting, we package up significant data points through our toolset so our partners can access data whenever and wherever they need to have a better understanding of their release performance, audience listening habits and more. Data is a given factor in the future of distribution Chris Manning “Easy access to this information will become more and more commonplace. For us, it’s through the Orchard Workstation and our native mobile app, OrchardGo. The Workstation allows our labels and artists to create new digital and physical releases, music videos, advertising campaigns, monitor analytics, handle accounting and more. OrchardGo is a bit more straightforward and mobile-friendly, with real-time playlisting information among other streaming data. Easy access to customisable tools are the key to the future of distribution. “Not only accessing, but cognitively managing data in a way that makes the information we see on a daily basis actionable, is key. Just because we have an influx of data, doesn’t mean we have to follow it. Data is important in supporting business decisions; however, we need to hold onto creative leadership. That difference is important for any music company, working alongside creators. As the leading distributor of independent music, we need to ensure we’re providing our artists and labels the tools and services they need to get the music they make out to fans and into the world, allowing them to do what they do best: create.” To relive the highlights of last year’s inaugural Tech Summit, click here. To find out everything you need to know about this year’s edition, click here. To secure your place at the Tech Summit, go to: musicweektechsummit.com

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