Copyright is over, and musicians should make themselves as pretty as they can for big brand advertisers, says top music manager and label boss Terry McBride.
McBride’s Nettwerk Music manages artists including Avril Lavigne and the Barenaked Ladies, and it’s been an indie label for over 20 years. He’s put his thoughts into a Music Tank report published today, and a keynote at Brighton’s Great Escape music festival.
It’s an upbeat vision of the future that eulogises free music, mash-ups and corporate sponsorship. It’s just not a vision of the future everyone is going to welcome – for example, Billy Bragg, who warned against corporate-flavoured feudalism here recently.
Last night Terry was named Music Manager of the Year by his peers. So we caught up with him today ahead of the keynote, to find out where the RIAA scourge thinks the money’s going to come from.
In the report, entitled “Meet The Millenials“, McBride writes –
“Discovery of new music in the digital economy will be synonymous with consumption”. The money will come from ad-supported music services and subscriptions.”
“Premium data services will be the new format of chic within social connections of friends and like-minded individuals”.
“Price will be a fluid definition and more indicative of a response to demand and freedom to use the file after purchase. The definition of what is ‘free’ and what is ‘paid’ will merge, and become a relative point of view.”
That’s one to remember when your landlord knocks on the door, demanding the rent.
“You might think I’m two months behind,” you’ll be able to say, “But that’s a relative point of view.”
Actually free music will become “an upsell technique for other music related products, e.g. concert tickets, clothing, music or artist branded physical products,” reckons McBride. The recorded music helps establish a larger commercial presence. And don’t forget micro-monetisation of P2P recommendations, he writes.
So let’s hear it from the horses mouth. Show us the money, Terry!
“A New Middle Class”
“A lot of money is coming in from other brands. We’ll have Dorito™-sponsored bands,” he enthused today.
“They’ll come to an artist with a $5m ad budget, and they will say will add x money to your business, but we want something for that.”
Some people might think that getting pretty for Dorito™ [Frito Lay is a division of Pepsi] might not be in the spirit of RnR, we countered. Not a problem, said Terry – in the New World Order bands would have to spend a lot more time thinking how to commercialise themselves.
“Music has always been free,” he says.
But doesn’t the alarm go off when you walk out of HMV with a load of CDs down your trousers?
“Music is an emotional property. If you think about it music has always been free and it’s only in the last fifty or sixty years that we’ve been able to monetize it.”
What a good thing, I said. Gifted people don’t have to work in factories or call centres if they can ship enough stuff. So why go back to the past? How is that progressive?
“I fundamentally disagree with you,” said Terry. ” The whole world is now a marketplace. Where there’s eyeballs there’s an ability to monetize.
Which is what The Reg does every day, I countered. But the sums for general purpose music sites, are fairly puny, are they not? Or social networks? Facebook apparently extracts about $3 a year per user. And that’s the biggest social network.
Terry says that as a company over 60 per cent of its revenue was from digital, not physical sales last year. And we’ll see a “new middle class” of artists arise.
The duo the Folk Weepies he says made over half a million dollars last year.
But what about the serious money giant telco’s rake in? Wasn’t that a more better prospect for future revenue than the ad department of a crisp company?
While stressing that there are lots of sources of money, McBride passionately agrees:
“Guys, cough up please,” he says. “The ISPs damn well should pay. They pretend they can’t do anything about their networks but when something goes wrong, they’re sure there quick.”
When he says people “don’t understand copyright”, he explains, what he means is that people don’t understand the mechanics of the process. I said I thought this was risky – give people a moral justification not to pay, and people will bite your hand off to seize it. It isn’t difficult. Or particularly clever.
McBride describes the report as “a checklist for artists”, which seems reasonable. But unlike the incendiary predecessor in this MusicTank series – the one by Peter Jenner – there’s more hope than reality in this one. ®
Download Terry’s thoughts from here (it isn’t online yet, but should be soon).