Business Meets Talent in LA
The New Music Seminar LA is a forum for music business professionals and artists to discuss the changing industry and the tools that can help musicians engage their fans. The event welcomes the changes to the industry with a sense of optimism and honesty rarely seen in most music business seminars. As Roland Swenson, the managing director of SXSW said, “The New Music Seminar led an insurgency that ushered in a new generation of music business leaders. The 21st century music business sorely needs that spirit again. The first NMS showed us how to hotwire the family Cadillac. The next NMS will show us how to choose the best hybrid on the lot.” The industry is changing, and the New Music Seminar strives to make this change one for the better.
The Triumph of Hope
New Music Seminar LA 2011 was broken into five different movements that highlighted various key topics. The first movement set the tone of the seminar and was aptly named: “The Music Industry Isn’t Over: It’s Just Beginning.” The key players in this movement were Michael Doemberg (founder of ReverbNation), Eric Garland (founder of BigChampagne) and Courtney Holt (former president of MySpace Music). They were all very enthusiastic about one component that was ignored in the old music business: the fans. They argued that the growing digital music platforms and social media outlets enable fans to be involved with music and the artists creating it. They also argued that labels must return to focusing on artist development. This will make a stronger partnership and bond between the artist and the label, ensuring that both parties are maximizing profits. Garland noted that fans are the new currency to gauge success in the industry. Bands can better connect with their fans through branding and understanding their niche. Fans don’t have a relationship with the album that is released; they have a relationship with the artist. Garland also noted that a band must be patient for success, slowly building up their brand and finally receiving the hard-earned gratification in the end.
Artist Discovery and Customer Service
The second movement was entitled “A&R in the Music Business.” Here, the panel was filled with record industry celebrities James Diener (CEO of A&M/Octone Records), Ron Fair (Geffen Records) and Craig Kallman (CEO of Atlantic Records). The panel gave insight into how record labels discover new talent in this era. Continuing the enthusiasm of the first movement, the panel noted that music has never been as consumed as much as it has in the current climate. Artists must find new ways to monetize this consumption and maximize the experience for the customer. In this way, the music business is becoming like every other business, with its primary focus on customer service. The panel discussed that record labels have been too focused on their own profits, making products that are over-priced, leading the consumer to find alternative ways to access music. Consequently, the label and the artist have lost the ability to connect with fans. In a parting note, the panelists stressed that no amount of marketing can substitute great music that is unique and engaging.
100 Artists On The Verge
The third and fourth movements directed the conversation towards the artist and the music that they create. The highlights of these panels were from Tom Jackson (OnStage Success), RuPaul, and Moby, and their focus was on marketing, branding and how business affects the creative process. The New Music Seminar believes that there is much talent out in the marketplace, and they strive to find the artists about to break. They call this process “The 100 Artists on the Verge.” The bands that made these charts were ranked for having a strong base in ticket sales, music sales, video views, music listens and social media attention. With the help of BigChampagne, NMS created one of the most extensive charts dedicated to rising talent. The top three bands from this chart had the opportunity to perform at NMS, and they received constructive feedback from the creative panels. The band that won the Artist on the Verge competition, The Daylights, received a packaged prize worth $50,000. The Daylights were a prime example of great talent in America, waiting to be discovered and matured, and NMS capitalized on that opportunity.
Breaking Away From The Majors
The New Music Seminar closed with the final movement called “The Breaks,” featuring successful artists like Chamillionaire and Moby. All of the artists had varying stories, all with different perspectives on what it means to be successful. They all, however, were once with a major label and eventually broke their ties to work independently. Chamillionaire broke into the industry with his huge hit “Ridin’,” and was quickly signed to a major label with the sole intention of monetizing his success. He said that ultimately, his fans were the only ones who truly cared about him and his music.
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The New Music Seminar was an innovative environment for artists and businessmen to connect and discuss how to make the industry a fair and prosperous enterprise. Contrary to the attitude of many other music seminars, NMS views this change as a revolution. It is a chance to make the industry better and more efficient. The focus will be shifted towards the fans and the artists, not the labels and album sales. Music is only getting more popular, and the revolution begins now.
By Micah Deterville