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MACHERS OF MIDEM

The Glass Is Half Full But the Stein Is Half Empty

Midem’s 50th anniversary was celebrated today by four members of the music business establishment attempting a few stabs at what might come next. What follows is a melange of views from Daniel Glass, Seymour Stein, Joel Katz and Tom Silverman, whose insights were appropriately Talmudic.

Glass weighed in on the hottest topic of the moment—YouTube—and said he’s expecting a new system of monetary compensation that the music business will be much happier with by the end of the summer. Google will also become friendlier with other companies, said Glass, offering more marketing and artist development programs.

But the future of the business is still ultimately predicated on great records, added the Glassnote founder. “Some of the weaknesses in the businesses are attributed to fans getting turned off because they’ve been given inferior records,” he explained. “With streaming services, fans are going to play the best of the best and artists get paid when their music gets played a lot. [At Glassnote], we have artists like CHVRCHES and Childish Gambino that don’t sell a lot of records but they still make a lot of money.”

Glass’s pet peeve this year is the “cynicism, sarcasm and disrespect” towards labels from some managers, artists and agents when they make it big. He said: “The business is not all live revenue; we support through press, promotion, working with the managers, press and agents. The labels are a forgotten species right now.”

Stein got bored with the business talk, keen instead to share anecdotes about his heyday, but did offer some predictions for the future. “It’s all about India and China, that—if you include Bangladesh and Pakistan—have 40% of the world’s population. “They make great music,” he said. We are not sure India would want to include Pakistan in its population, but we digress.

Silverman told the crowd the next 50 years is all about “monetizing the attention drawn to what we create.” His predicted that revenues from music subscriptions in the developing world could overtake the developed world by 2030. “There’s almost 1.35 billion people who could have music subscriptions in India, China, parts of South America and Africa,” he said. “The amount that we get for monthly subscriptions in the developed world will be one quarter or less of what we get in the developed world, more like €2 a month rather than €10.”

Scooter Braun got a few mentions as an example of the new breed of managers who start businesses with their clients. "They are splitting all of their income, which is now under one roof,” said Katz. “Record labels get less income, artists and managers get more and they have more control."

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