Business News Education & Events Industry People The Great Escape 2016

CMU@TGE Previews: Building a more skilled music industry

By | Published on Tuesday 10 May 2016

What has the music industry ever done for you?

We are now just over a week away from this year’s edition of new music festival The Great Escape which, once again, will feature the CMU Insights @ The Great Escape conference at the heart of its convention programme. Each day in the CMU Daily, CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke is previewing the sessions we will present this year – and today we start to look at the full-day strand ‘What Has The Music Industry Ever Done For You?’

A few years ago at The Great Escape we had a discussion on how the music industry might better educate the wider world about copyright, noting that whenever there was a move for more anti-piracy legislation, some vague commitments to educating the masses were usually thrown in for good measure. Yet such copyright education programmes were either lacking or lacklustre.

One conclusion of the session was that a lot people working in music have little to no real knowledge about how copyright works and why it exists, with panellists noting that if the industry couldn’t even educate its own people, what hope did it have for the wider world? Now, I’m biased here, because we are a company that provides music copyright training to music companies, but I think it was a sound conclusion to the debate.

And it’s an issue that remains. Training is often way down the priority list in the music industry, professional development programmes not sounding especially rock n roll. But when you have an industry in flux – like this one has been for fifteen years now – only knowing about the bit of the business where you have hands-on experience is a big weakness, which arguably contributed to the record industry’s significant slump as the forced shift from physical sales to a digital consumption business model got underway.

Of course, these days, those starting out in the music industry are much more likely to have had some sort of music business education, thanks to higher education courses that simply didn’t exist during the record industry’s CD heyday. Though are these courses actually providing new industry talent with the knowledge they really need? And is that knowledge any good without hands-on experience? And where educators are getting it right, does it create a perverse situation where those at the bottom of the music industry hierarchy are actually better equipped to navigate the new music business than those at the top?

As you can probably tell, this is something I think about quite a lot. And it’s something I talk to educators and recruiters in the music industry about quite a lot too. Based on those conversations I’ll be presenting some thoughts next week on what skills and knowledge the music industry needs in 2016, whether music business courses are achieving that at entry level, and what music employers should be doing to ensure those higher up the hierarchy understand about music rights, evolving artist deals and the wider music industry.

But it won’t be just my thoughts on stage. Joining us to dissect what I say, and offer their own insights, will be Christine Goody and Alice Roberts, respectively representing the HR teams of Sony Music and the Royal Albert Hall, plus manager and educator Phil Nelson from BIMM and, providing an international perspective, Australian promoter and manager Maggie Collins.

‘Building a more skilled music industry’ takes place on Friday 20 May at 12.15pm in Dukes @ Komedia 2 as part of the full day CMU Insights strand ‘What Has The Music Industry Ever Done For You?’ Full strand info here. Full delegate passes here. Conference only tickets here.