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Dissecting The Digital Dollar: Five Years On

By | Published on Friday 17 July 2020

Music Applications

Here is a quick summary of the presentation CMU’s Chris Cooke gave at the start of the launch of the new ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ book yesterday, setting our five key changes and challenges that we have seen, or will see, in the world of music streaming.

1. Understanding the streaming business is more important than ever
Streaming now accounts for more than half of all recorded music revenues worldwide, making it more important than ever that artists, songwriters and their managers fully understand how the streaming business works. New kinds of services are also gaining momentum, especially in emerging markets. This means understanding the streaming business is a constant learning experience.

2. A revolution in music distribution means more choice and more competition
Artists now have much more choice when picking partners to distribute and market their recordings. And every music-maker can now access basic distribution, sometimes for free, which is brilliant, but has also resulted in unprecedented amounts of recorded music going live each week. Managers need to understand which approaches work best for each artist, and what kind of marketing activity ensures releases stand out among all the noise.

3. Getting songwriters paid remains a challenge
The streaming business is at its most complex when it comes to songwriter royalties. The Music Modernization Act will hopefully address some US-specific issues in this domain, but there are plenty of other issues to be addressed too. Managers need to understand these complexities, how monies flow down different ‘royalty chains’, and support those publishers and collecting societies who are genuinely focused on finding solutions.

4. Transparency is still an issue
The lack of transparency in the streaming business has come up again and again throughout the Digital Dollar project. Some progress has been made when it comes to the Spotify-style business model, but new secretive deals with YouTube, Facebook and TikTok have posed a whole load more questions. Managers need to keep identifying the key questions that need to be asked of their clients’ business partners – and to keep on asking them!

5. New business models will drive growth in the next five years
In the years ahead it seems likely that alternative streaming business models – user-generated content, livestreaming, karaoke, podcasts, maybe a social-streaming hybrid – are going to become drivers of growth. These create great opportunities, but they also create new challenges. Managers need to be constantly looking to the future and considering how the big issues of today will evolve as the market diversifies and matures.

You can buy the Third Edition of ‘Digital Dollar’ from Amazon here.