FRUKT headed down to ExEE, billed as a “carbon footprint friendly alternative to this years famous South by South West” to hear a panel of experts discuss the future of music and check out a couple of London bands (Eaux and Stay).
The panel at the East by East East was split across the music sector, from traditional label, publishing and management, to tech startups and press. In fact, if anything, the panel was too diverse, meaning that drilling down into subjects proved tricky. But mostly the tone was positive, even from Sony BMG’s Federico Bolza, who while mocking that he was “painfully aware that his business model is f***ed,” also reminded the crowd that One Direction was a £50m UK business alone, which employs 500 people, and mostly through record sales.
Songkick’s Ian Hogarth was undoubtedly the star of the show, with inspiring thoughts and anecdotes, including one about his firm’s Detour project helping Chicago musician Andrew Bird tour South America. He summed up the success of Songkick by it providing genuine benefit to both artist and fan, a simple, but crucial premise that resonated throughout the discussion. Sean Adams from Drowned In Sound said that Hogarth’s passion for music was the driving force for Songkick’s success, and that many music startups failed as the people behind them were businessmen first, not music fans.
There was some advice from the panel at the end on where to position a startup tech firm in the music industry, with Mixcloud’s Nikhil Shah simply saying, “be different”, while Hogarth was more specific, suggesting that he felt the merchandise and publishing sectors for particularly ripe for disruption. Paul Brindley from Music Ally pointed out that traditional radio was still the number one source for discovering new music, proving once again that for all its huge advantages, digital still hasn’t quite sussed out the music curation riddle.
So more questions than answers as is always the case at events like this, and the success of another start-up involved in the night, Signature Brew (which makes craft beers curated by the likes of Professor Green and Frank Turner) shows that you don’t necessarily need to tear up the music industry to join the game – you just to connect with both artist, and fan.