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We Went To… Musikmesse Business Academy

by Amorim Abiassi Ferreira
19 April 2018
We Went To… Musikmesse Business Academy
Pietro Sutera
Artists in this post

Musikmesse is one of the biggest fairs of the music and instrument industry. This year, Europavox attended the event’s Business Academy for two days to see what we could learn from the leaders of the business world. From tech to sales, while also paying attention to what’s been going on in Europe, the business academy was the one-stop shop for information and inspiration for all type of professionals.

Who is the author?

“I guess that more people would have come if I had announced that we would be distributing bitcoin for free.”

New technology will create new instruments that will create new music that will attract new consumers who will, again, create new technology and make the cycle start all over again. This was the vision presented by Steffen Holly, of Fraunhofer IDMT.

Now, imagine you are at a dancefloor. A DJ plays a beat and every person on the dancefloor can add something to the song through by using their smartphone. If the song is recorded and released, then to who belong the rights to the music? How would you ever get every creator of this song to be listed correctly?

The solution is now available, and it is called blockchain. To put it simply, blockchain is a technology that keeps a decentralized record of information that is irreversible and hard to counterfeit. One that could be written through all the smartphones on the dancefloor creating an accurate list of authors of the song created at that moment on the dancefloor.

Instruments can very well become a way to permanently document the information of who played what, and where through automatic registry. Imogen Heap is known to be a fierce advocate of the technology and what it could mean for authoring. She even founded a collective, Mycelia, “to ensure that all involved are paid and acknowledge fully”. Steffen also assured us that as technology increases it will become more invisible in our lives. So, with time, blockchain will be an intrinsic part of our lives and change reality as we know it.

Have you met the homo digitalis?

During the conferences, the concept of the homo digitalis was also presented to us by Heike Scholz, of Mobile Zeitgeist. She showed daunting numbers:

89% of German people are online
90% of German people on Facebook access it through their phones

Our latest human evolution made us more mobile than ever. Everyone expects immediacy and that has increased the pressure on time sensitivity when it comes to responding to the costumers. So, how do you garner loyalty of your costumers/fans? Well, the solution, according to Jan Bömer, of Shopware, is to make them stay for breakfast.

“Both in love and business and in e-commerce we all want the same: a long and happy relationship.”

He also argues that keeping the costumer, or fans, satisfied is not enough in a relationship. It is important to surprise them and find ways to make them feel positive emotions, especially since we just awarded a Nobel Prize to Richard Thaler, who proved that that emotion are the number one ruler when it comes to most of our economic decisions.

Do you understand the new audience?

Ken Hughes showed us how we can divide the audience in two camps: the digital natives, who grew up inside the digital world, and the digital immigrants, those that struggle to keep up.

Traditionalists, baby boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, Gen Zers, it takes a lot of work to really know each of these groups and their different sociological cultural needs. It also is the only way to keep up with the changes that are brought about… well, every industry.

The shopper behaviourist firmly believes that consumers are the most disruptive force. Hyper personalisation, authenticity, contextual communication and unique experiences are all expected to digital natives. Get it right, and your business, brand, artist can propagate like wildfire as each of these consumers has the ability to become a spokesman for you brand; get it wrong… and find yourself forgotten by the world, or worse, decimated on social media.

Is there a winning formula?

What does the Formula One world have to teach the music industry? Mark Gallagher, of Performance Insights, told the audience the story of how the racing world was shaken to its core when there was a ban on tobacco sponsorship in 2006. The industry lost 2,5b € per year in sponsorship and was reeling to get back on its feet.

Realizing that they were more than a racing team was important in making MacLaren go from a 900-person company to a 3000-person company and also the first billion-dollar company in the F1. And it all was thanks to them finding a new core as an engineering company and reinventing themselves and the services they offered.
It’s not hard to draw some parallel lines to the music world and how piracy almost annihilated physical sales and how the industry found a way to create a service, streaming, that almost made everyone forget about piracy. Reinvention is the only way to deal with disruption.

How is big data being regulated in Europe?

On the law side of things, Benjamin Spallek, of Creditreform, spoke to us about the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that starts being enforced the 25th of May. After the latest Facebook scandal, it seems that data couldn’t be more on-topic when it comes to privacy protection. How are lawmakers protecting us from private interest taking advantage of the information that is not properly handled by the companies to which we give it to? The regulation has been approved since the 24th of May 2016, but companies have had two years to adjust themselves.

Until now, fines could go up to 300 000€, which, is just a silly value for some of the giants that handle our data like Facebook or Google. Come May 25th, these fines can go up to 20 000 000€, or, in some cases, up to 4% of a company’s revenue, which is a lot, even for a titanic company.

The lawyer argued that everyone that is running a business that collects data should prepare themselves and start updating everything needed to be compliant, and that means also consulting a lawyer to make sure everything is up to par. You can read more about the GDPR here.

How can music shake up the old continent?
Petra Welzel

Music in Europe was also a big topic being discussed during the Business Academy. Marje Brütt, of Creative Europe Desk KULTUR, gave the audience a thorough explanation of how Europe brings cultural support, its criteria and what objectives are programs like Creative Europe are trying to fulfil.

There also was a debate on how could Music Export be stimulated in Europe. The panel was composed by Marton Naray (Czech Music Office), Jeffrey Buns, (Youbloom Dubin), Fiona Deuss-Frandi (EACEA) and moderated by Jake Beaumont-Nesbitt (IMMF).

Marton defended that the idea of export was an old-guard way of thinking, and that the offices should be focused on helping bands grow to help them find their space in the cultural scene. He also defended that bands should aim for their tier when it comes to showcase. Trying to bite more than they could chew, like going to Eurosonic or SXSW, before being ready, would only result in them losing a precious opportunity.

Fiona also discussed on how a music observatory that could gather more data about the movements of the music industry in Europe could help everyone since that information is still unknown to professionals and would help recognize bigger trends and growth giving insights on how to intervene.

Music showcases were also mentioned as a way to bring more life force to the European music scene. All participants agreed that it was important to have more focus on the music industry which, easily falls to a secondary role even though it creates a revenue of about 4 billion euros (2016) in Europe.

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