Question: What was the most important/influential/impactful event to happen in the music business in 2013, and why?
Tom Corson, president/COO, RCA Records
Continued consolidation in all areas of the music business. While consolidation makes business sense for those involved, it also opens up opportunities for entrepreneurs who are the lifeblood of our industry.
Colleen Theis, COO, the Orchard
The grand opening of the Rough Trade New York store was a landmark event for music retail and the US independent music industry as a whole. Rough Trade’s experiential approach to merchandising and marketing music and related art and entertainment events is unique. New York is the only city of its size without a large-scale indie focused music retail hub. Although I work primarily on the digital side of the industry, I have love and appreciation for the unique record store shopping experience and the collector’s aspect of vinyl, CDs and special artist-related products.
Matt Pincus, founder/CEO, Songs Music Publishing
The summary judgment ruling by Judge Cote in the ASCAP rate court was a threshold event in the music publishing business. Unexpected, the decision said that rights holders did not have the right to withdraw their digital rights from ASCAP on a selective basis to get a better rate through market negotiations. The ruling broke the back of the current performing rights collection system, making it uneconomic for ASCAP and BMI to continue operating under the consent decree regulations they are subject to. It will change the entire system of performance royalties.
Chris Vanderhook, COO, Myspace
The re-emergence and reinvention of Miley Cyrus. After everyone picked their jaws off the floor, you realize it’s harder now more than ever for artists to gain awareness and penetrate. We’re living in an age of dominance — meaning you have to dominate to make real traction — and only the biggest superstars can break through. Miley created a fervor that proved she’s one of those superstars.
Ben Stauffer, finance director, Centricity Music
The Warner Music/Clear Channel broadcast and digital royalties deal. A major label signing a deal to receive broadcast performance royalties (while sharing digital royalties) will positively impact Warner Music (and its recouped artists) by providing them with an additional income stream. However, it has big potential to shrink playlists even more and further impede the ability of indies to have their songs played.
Ted Kalo, executive director, musicFIRST
The digital music landscape is going to present greater opportunities for artists and their ability to connect with fans like never before. A perfect example is Beyoncé dropping a digital album with no advance press and announcing it to her followers via Instagram. But it’s also going to present greater challenges than ever as music creators struggle to make the music economy work for all. We need to continue building a responsible, sustainable music ecosystem that rewards creativity instead of strip mining it. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte has indicated that there will be Congressional hearings in 2014 focused on the music business. We will be watching carefully and working to make sure that music creators receive fair pay for their work whenever and wherever it is played.
Greg Hill, president/CEO, Hill Entertainment Group
I think in 2013 the music business has seen a leveling out and a realization that no matter what tools we have at our disposal or what new ways we have to reach consumers, at the end of the day, an artist and a song connecting is still the most important factor. We have had all of these new avenues for exposure open up to us over the last decade, but I believe it has become apparent that music still matters.
Marcee Rondan, senior vice president, MSO
There seems to be a resurgence of female artists in music. From young artists like Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift to Katy Perry and Rihanna and new artists like Lorde, for the first time in years women are on the charts. We need to continue to support these artists, so that young girls with musical aspirations have role models.
Max Gayle, manager of artist development, Island Def Jam
Jay Z’s Samsung deal — a groundbreaking music deal that made the record industry change the way sales are counted. Not bad for an ex-hustler from the Marcy Houses in Brooklyn.
Julien Mitelberg, CEO of Bandsintown and COO/co-founder of Cellfish
It was interesting to witness the chain of events surrounding SFX Entertainment, including an acquisition spree that included Beatport, Fame House, Totem OneLove, and Paylogic. The subsequent IPO in June showed how electronic music has moved to the forefront of both business and pop culture in recent years. This was a turning point for the genre that will have lasting ramifications on the live music industry as a whole.
Tom Gimbel, GM, Austin City Limits
Thom Yorke and other significant artists speaking out against Spotify and the other major streaming services for low artist payments. This is a core debate that will last well beyond 2013. Music fans appear to want the streaming services and many are willing to pay for it, but can the business model produce meaningful revenue that will make its way to the musicians who are creating the art? If artists cannot earn a living, who’s going to make the music?
Will Mills, VP of music and Content, Shazam
The continuing shift of music consumption to mobile is still of critical importance regarding how creators/rights holders get paid.
Joe Riccitelli, executive VP/GM, RCA Records
The changing of the Hot 100 chart. Adding in YouTube streams into the formula made a big difference for artists, especially those who may not have to have a major label pushing. It completely changed the strategies on a No. 1 Hot 100 campaign.
Robb McDaniels, founder/CEO, INgrooves
The launch of iTunes Radio was a long-time coming, maybe even too long given Spotify’s head start. But it confirmed what we all suspected: access to on-demand streaming services will quickly dominate the consumer landscape and shift the power structure of the music business. It will change how we market, consume and monetize music for many years to come.
Jim Donio, president, Music Business Association
2013 showed us that we don’t need to choose between digital and physical products; we can enjoy both side-by-side.
For example, this year saw the continued growth of vinyl, with Daft Punk selling 19,000 LPs of “Random Access Memories” during its debut week, and Queens of the Stone Age likewise selling 12,000 vinyl copies of “… Like Clockwork,” accounting for 13% of the album’s overall sales when it topped the Billboard charts. And let’s not forget Record Store Day, which saw a 36% jump in vinyl purchases over last year’s event, not to mention a 25% spike in overall indie record store sales during its Back to Black Friday event.
That said, this year also saw major digital milestones, particularly the proliferation of viral video artists who managed to cross over to mainstream chart success. This year, Bauuer’s “Harlem Shake” and Ylvis’ “The Fox” followed in the footsteps of Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” highlighting YouTube’s status as a major force for music discovery.
Andy Cohn, president/publisher, The Fader
Kanye West’s “Yeezus,” one of the most polarizing albums (and artists) I can remember, coming out to responses that ranged from “complete garbage” to “utter brilliance.” It’s albums like “Yeezus” that whether you like it or not, keep music moving forward — and while not the most radio-friendly album by far, it definitely caused a passionate and extended conversation which is always a healthy thing for the industry.
Dmitri Vietze, founder/CEO, StoryAmp.com
Your parents heard about Spotify. Twitter Music launched and died. iTunes Radio launched and nobody noticed. In other words, we learned that entrenched players do not have the advantage. Again.
Grace Jones, founder, REQUIEM media
Hype, hype and more hype. Artists seemed to push limits and minds on album campaigns. From Kanye’s projections on buildings around the world to Vampire Weekend’s listing in the New York Times classifieds to Arcade Fire’s “secret” shows, the art of the album announcement and rollout had no limits. Interesting to see Beyonce do the exact opposite and turn the whole process on its head!
Rell Lafargue, Chief Operating Officer, Reservoir
Jay Z ushered in a new mode of record distribution and promotion with the Samsung-funded app release of Magna Carter Holy Grail. This could set a trend that furthers the transition away from traditional record label distribution deals for the next several years.
Moving forward, we believe that both formats will continue carving out their own niches, and music fans will be better off for it.
Tom Windish, president, The Windish Agency
The continued importance of platforms, like Soundcloud, for launching awareness of unknown and unsigned artists.
Dwight Lazarus, manager of brand partnerships, Island Def Jam and Republic Records
The most impactful event to happen in the music business in 2013 is innovative album releases. Jay Z (“Magna Carta… Holy Grail”), Arcade Fire (“Reflektor”) and Daft Punk (“Random Access Memories”) all set the bar for the music industry, in terms of releasing music for sale.
Liana Huth, senior VP of partnership marketing, Fuse
The reopening of Madison Square Garden, after a three-year, $1 billion transformation.
Wendy Washington, executive VP of artist and media development, RED/Sony Music
The Jay Z/Samsung deal. Although brand partnerships are not new, the scope of this deal was remarkable. It’s a great example of how music companies are addressing the challenges of selling music with innovative, revenue-generating solutions and partnerships outside of the traditional route.
Peter Jesperson, VP of production and catalog, New West Records
The Replacements’ three reunion shows at Riotfest. Because they were an important and influential group that didn’t get their just due during their original incarnation and the attention they received this year helped to rectify that a bit.
Ros Earls, founder/owner, 140db Management
The reshaping of the majors. The sale of EMI to Universal, and Parlophone to Warner Music. And then there were 3!
Roderick Scott, manager of publicity and lifestyle marketing, Warner Bros. Records
SXSW continues to grow in scale, scope and importance as a place where artists of all tiers, fans, brands and industries intersect at a natural crossroad. It’s single-handedly the most important place to discover or cement support for the next big thing.
Madelyn Scarpulla, GM, Loud & Proud Records
For better or worse, there is no one single event to point to in 2013. A combination of events, tours, songs and moments is always what keeps our business fresh and exciting each year. Some highlights: Miley Cyrus’ much talked about performance; iTunes Radio, AEG shuffle, the subscription model continuing wars, cultural shift to pop music, Rough Trade Records’ opening in Brooklyn.
Eliot Van Buskirk, editor, Evolver.fm
It’s actually not so easy for me to identify one for this year, so I’m going to go with an outlier: that 2013 was the year when the self-driving car arrived. This might not seem like a music thing, but it is. The car is the last place where FM radio makes sense, and maybe the only place where satellite radio makes sense, and is the only place many of us spend time listening to music, because our eyes have to be focused elsewhere. If music is to retain “carshare,” or whatever you want to call it, which has been boosting radio and even physical format revenue for decades, it will need to get creative — videos, interactivity, social, and everything else that grabs more attention than just sitting there and listening, because when people don’t have to drive anymore, they might not do that anymore.
Rell Lafargue, COO, Reservoir
Jay Z ushered in a new mode of record distribution and promotion with the Samsung-funded app release of “Magna Carter Holy Grail.” This could set a trend that furthers the transition away from traditional record label distribution deals for the next several years.
Lauretta Charlton, publicist, Joe’s Pub
Pandora seeking legislation to reduce royalty payments for rights holders. As streaming services become more widespread, it’s important to find a balance between offering fair compensation to artists and adapting to the new business model. Outspoken artists like Thom Yorke and David Byrne can bemoan services like Spotify all they want, but the reality is most of us are not consuming music the way we used to. We have to adapt, and we have to find a way to do it fairly. Reducing royalty payments is not the way to go.
Mary Jurey, GM, Playing In Traffic Records
In the U.S., I think it was the full on adoption of Spotify. It has made streaming easy and brought it into the mainstream in 2013. I am personally on Spotify all the time, as opposed to a year ago. I use it daily.
Miles Anthony Williams, CEO, Righteous Music Media
Robin Thicke Suing the Gaye Family before they sued him. It is an obvious rip-off of Marvin Gaye’s song. To top it off, it is nominated for Song Of The Year at the Grammy’s, which is a travesty.
Laura Swanson, executive VP of media and artist relations, Island Def Jam
Without a doubt, the comeback of video director Diane Martel. Diane was responsible for two of the biggest musical earthquakes of the year — Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Miley Cryus’ video “We Can’t Stop.”
Neda Azarfar, VP of communications, Myspace
Livestreaming. It’s not necessarily a new concept, but it seemed as if any time more than 20 people got together this year, it was live streamed. Myspace started doing event livestreams in a bigger way this year, and I saw firsthand that people really do tune in and watch. A lot of people, actually. As a result, more brands and content owners are asking for this capability because they want to extend their offline events and expand their audience reach. I’d say that live streaming is at a pretty basic Phase 1 right now, but the interest and growth of the category make me think we’ll see people layering more interesting and interactive elements on top of the streams in 2014.
George Littlejohn, co-CEO, Purpose Music Group
Several independent R&B and soul artists starting to find alternative ways to reach broader audience — Honeyb Larochelle appearing on the “Sing-Off” on NBC; Monet getting songs placed on “Criminal Minds,” “Mindy Project” and “Orange is the New Black;” and Russell Taylor winning the very first VH1 artist “You Oughta Know” and the platform it brings. Overall, television having impact on sales and exposure again (Tamar Braxton, Keke Wyatt).
Rey Roldan, president, Another Reybee Production
Without any facetiousness, Miley Cyrus on the VMAs. Her twerking caused a whole nation to re-examine many things, including the industry-at-large’s view of women in music, how the industry and the nation views children raised in celebrity families, when is a performance too-raunchy-for-TV, and the method in which children who grow up in the spotlight adjust to adulthood.
Caesic Brox, chief marketing and financial officer, Raleighwood Records
YouTube’s crackdown on synthetic views and Billboard’s decision to add streaming to the way it calculates the Hot 100 has had a significant impact on the business of music. Coupled with the services that have popped up to enforce IP rights on streaming videos, marketers are now further incentivized to create multi-platform campaigns and fully embrace YouTube as a revenue generating platform.
Brenda Bottomley, manager/owner, Tulpa Records
The most important/influential/impactful event to happen in 2013 is what I refer to as the changing of the guards. Many top executives employed at major companies and artists have died, retired, resigned or have left to create new business ventures. These new trends and streaming services will bring big changes and broaden the scope of the music industry as we know it.
Stephen F. Goffreda, program director, 92.3 FM WYRC-LP in Spencer, WV
iTunes Radio, because it further pushed streaming digital music into the mainstream.
Inge Colsen, publicist, Girlie Action
I always find SXSW the most impactful. Even though it’s a maze and scavenger hunt at best, you’ll find plenty of gems and have the chance to meet up and run into the people you’d like to do business with for the rest of the year.
Mercedes Davis, CEO, Freshboy Productions
Jay-Z partnering with Samsung to release his new album. He eliminated the middleman, which is the record label and used a major corporation to get his album released to the public at a very staggering rate, where he has now reached double platinum status in the United States.