Yes, James Donio's remarks at Music Biz 2016 convention in Nashville addressed the growth of the organization, the state of the marketplace and the complex issues raised by new technology for rights holders. But in his concluding points he made an impassioned and personal call for LGBT rights amid a storm of regressive legislation in southern states—and how musicians can make a difference.
First, the biz part: Donio, citing encouraging numbers in the streaming sector, observed, "We are seeing the highest-profile artists, labels and their teams strategically choose exactly when and how to use the current complement of available distribution models to their advantage for their new music."
Donio also discussed $15b global music business, taking note of how the U.S. marketplace is almost divided in thirds between streaming, downloads and physical product. “This all further underscores that the industry is experiencing a state of balance, as the newer formats deliver on their potential, while legacy formats continue to serve fans and provide a viable source of revenue,” he said.
Case in point: The 2016 edition of Record Store Day. It yielded the largest week for vinyl since Christmas 2015; best week overall for vinyl since Christmas 1991; and overall indie retailer album sales were up 131% from the prior week.
“As a gay man, I cannot help but think that I might not be delivering this speech today if new state laws that allow various kinds of discrimination ... were in place when I was building my career here."
Donio concluded his opening address by noting, “As a gay man, I cannot help but think that I might not be delivering this speech today if new state laws that allow various kinds of discrimination against people for who they are, how they live, who they love, or what they believe – and that are being considered in far too many other states – were in place when I was building my career here. Fortunately, I had some strong and enlightened advocates who guided and fostered my journey so I could have the chance to be where I am today.
“My fervent hope is that the journeys of those in the worldwide LGBT family can receive that same acceptance and encouragement, in the face of extremely troubling judgment and narrow-mindedness that I feel simply cannot be allowed to prevail.”
At the panel “Accelerating Acceptance: Music and the Importance of LGBT Fans,” Zeke Stokes, Vice President of Programs at GLAAD, and Matt Yazge, Director of Branded Partnerships for Music and Film at Nielsen, revealed data from a Harris Poll study that will released later this week.
The study found most Americans (60%) are familiar with musicians and comedians canceling concerts in states with laws such as “Bathroom Bills” or “Therapist Bills,” more so than various other forms of protest. Artists who protest discriminatory legislation have the support of a majority of Americans, with 60% saying they support musicians who advocate for the LGBT community, 51% citing concert cancellations as an effective form of protest, and 50% saying they would try to attend a concert at another venue if an artist cancelled a show in protest.
On top of that, Bruce Springsteen fans are 64% more likely to consider him influential when compared to other artists’ fans, according to Nielsen N-score, indicating that his decision to cancel a concert in North Carolina to protest the state’s transgender bathroom bill was a major factor in the chain reaction of cancellations the state experienced in its wake.
This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between May 11 and 13, among 1,424 adults.
Attendance is up by 15% to almost 1,500 with nearly 600 different companies and organizations represented, Donio noted.
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