The much heralded demise of the music industry is simply fiction and a gross exaggeration at best. I say this with confidence, based on a glimpse of the future of the industry, courtesy of the recent Music 4.5 Conference in London.
This event provided a forum for various Music Start-ups, Investors, Entrepreneurs and key Music Industry players (including the much-dreaded young consumers), to share and evaluate many potential solutions to the challenges faced by the music industry in the digital age. So far so good, but what makes this any different from the plague of other similar industry events out there you might ask? Well, without going into too much detail, especially as several blogs and tweets have already done a great job of that, below are some reasons for my unabashed optimism for music:
- The Numbers Don’t Lie – According to PRS For Music’s Chris Carey, music is still worth some £3.7 Billion to the UK economy with, wait for it, Recorded Music and Live Performances accounting for some £1.3 Billion and £1.4 Billion respectively
- Innovation’s Everywhere – If indeed it’s true that innovation is the offspring of necessity, then given the number of innovative offerings on parade at this event, she (i.e. necessity) and her rampant partner must surely breed like rabbits. A few of the start-ups that pitched at this event can be found at MusicAlly’s live-blog of the session, but the overall impression is that such innovative music solutions can be found pretty much anywhere you care to look. This can only bode well for the industry
- Don’t Blame The Youth – It is just plain lazy to blame the woes of the entire industry on young people, and shame on those that automatically think the youth are pirates by default. If anything, young people and other consumer segments should be better engaged in the search for ways out of the digital quagmire facing the entire content industry. This event did just that by including a panel of teenagers from the Digital Youth Project to provide direct feedback on the pitches of four very brave Start-ups. See more coverage by Dan Martin at BusinessZone.
In conclusion, music has always been a technology based industry, therefore the future, and even the route out of the current perception of an industry in demise, lies with technology innovation and some cultural evolution, period. The music industry is far from dead, if anything it is just about to get even more interesting, but the main stumbling block remains the instinctive fear of technology induced obsolescence by the recording industry combined with the glaring inadequacy of a non-global copyright system. So that’s it then, all we need do is fix the divide between technology and copyright? No sweat, can someone please pass me the screwdriver? All joking aside, that will be no easy task, but that’s a topic for another focused conference. As far as I’m concerned, the future is assured; it’s just the bleeding present that we need to get right!