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The song economy and direct-to-fan relationship put in the spotlight at The Great Escape

By | Published on Monday 17 May 2021

The first ever online edition of The Great Escape took place last week, with two days of insightful and thought-provoking discussions and debates, and numerous online showcases featuring great new artists and bands from all over the world, who showcased their music to a global audience of industry delegates and music fans.

Within the conference the legendary Bjorn Ulvaeus discussed the challenges facing songwriters in the digital age – both in terms of how streaming has impacted on songwriter revenues and the label-led industrialisation of the songwriting process – all of which inspired him to write his own report – ‘Rebalancing The Song Economy – which makes a series of proposals for industry reform.

Merck Mercuriadis also discussed how his belief that song rights were being undervalued in the music industry – mainly because of the commercial interests of the majors – inspired him to launch his headline-grabbing Hipgnosis Songs Fund. Having also convinced investors of the advantages of investing in song rights, he talked about how he is building a significant new player in the songs business that can push for songwriters to get a bigger cut of streaming income.

The challenges facing artists and songwriters in the digital age were also discussed in the session ‘Has The Digital Revolution Liberated Or Locked Out Music-Makers?’ Artist manager and digital expert Sammy Andrews said she was confident that momentum was now building that would see the digital pie both grow – with prices rises at the streaming services – and be more fairly sliced to the artist and songwriter’s benefit. Though fellow manager Ellie Giles pointed out that getting songwriters properly paid also required addressing the many inefficiencies in the way royalties are processed.

And Andrews, Giles and entrepreneurial artist Emma McGann all also agreed that – beyond addressing the economics of streaming – for frontline artists the really big opportunities in the digital world lie in the direct-to-fan relationship. And, therefore, a key focus for each artist is figuring out how to enhance those fan relationships, and sell more products and services directly to the fanbase.

Elsewhere, there were discussions on how getting rights data right is key to getting artists paid, and how fan data plays a crucial role in that direct-to-fan connection. The Future Music Talent strand looked at how the industry and music educators can better support early-career music-makers and music industry practitioners, and Future Music World put the spotlight on some inspirational initiatives helping bring about a healthier and more diverse music community.

Look out for more round-ups of this year’s TGE discussions in future editions of the CMU Daily. Meanwhile, anyone who had a delegate pass can also access all and any of the sessions on-demand via the conference platform from later today through to 30 May.

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