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Global Conference 2008 | Paying the Piper: How Can Music Keep Its Revenues <i>and</i> Its Customers?
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Panel Detail:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
3:45 PM - 5:00 PM

Paying the Piper: How Can Music Keep Its Revenues and Its Customers?

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Quincy Jones (left) and Andrew Lack (right) compare notes on the state of the music industry.

The music industry has been roundly criticized for its failure to embrace the future and create a new business model for today's consumers, who increasingly choose to get their music online. Millions of dollars have been lost; some even believe the music industry presents an object lesson in how not to conduct business in the digital era.

"Nobody has a clue right now," said Quincy Jones, the legendary musician, producer and composer known for identifying hit artists ahead of the curve. "The volume of sales we had in the past will never come back. The genie is never going back in the bottle."

Justin Goldberg of Indie911 acknowledged that few firms are earning substantial revenues from online music sales yet but maintained that, with the exception of the recording segment, other areas of the music business — including tours and publishing — are doing quite well. There is also more use of music in film and television productions, he said. As for the recording side of the business, Goldberg added, "This industry was once driven by larger-than-life entrepreneurial personalities and format updates, but now things are more in the consumers' hands."

Andrew Lack of Sony BMG Music Entertainment agreed that now is a great time to be artist or a fan of music. It's easier than ever both to get more music and distribute one's music. He cited two new landmark agreements involving major record labels and Nokia and MySpace. "These two agreements and their associated business models show that we may be turning things around," he said. "The power of working with the largest social network and one of the largest mobile handset makers is undeniable."

Jones added that working in new technologies and getting "hooked into Silicon Valley" are key to success.

Established artists are already taking advantage of digital technologies. For example, Madonna signed a $120-million "360 degree" contract with concert promoter Live Nation, and Prince, Nine Inch Nails and Coldplay have experimented with digital album releases. "There are many schemes available to established stars now," remarked Lack. "But it has always been the role of the record label to find new talent, and that continues today." And as the field of players in that role becomes more crowded — with social networks and services like Goldberg′s Indie911 helping fans find new music — the labels have had to diversify their activities.

All three men noted one new "activity" in particular — the popular television show "American Idol," which has been a boon to the music industry, spinning out a variety of new stars.

In wrapping up the session and getting at the heart of the matter, moderator and radio host Larry Carroll asked the panelists if all of the "pipers of the music industry are ever going to get paid." That is, can this industry make money in the long term? And in the most telling response of the panel, almost in unison, all three shrugged their shoulders.


Justin Goldberg, Founder and CEO, Indie911

Quincy Jones, Producer; Composer; CEO, Quincy Jones Music Publishing

Andrew Lack, Chairman, Sony BMG Music Entertainment


Larry Carroll, News Anchor, KFWB News 980

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