Music Business

The Most Important Issue Facing the Music Biz In 2014


It’s a new year and indeed many trend/survey reports are emerging as industry experts weigh in on what lies ahead. Late last year, music industry trade magazine ‘Billboard,’ solicited industry experts, stateside, to determine what the most important issue facing the music industry in 2014 will be. The responses are interesting and parallel similar issues that Africa’s music markets are having to contend with. It is indeed interesting times ahead.

Some excerpts follow and then check out links to the three part series.

Question: What will the most important/influential issue facing the music industry be in 2014?

Michael Huppe, president/CEO, SoundExchange
There is no issue more important than getting a terrestrial performance right in place for traditional radio (AM/FM) to pay recording artists. Unlike all other radio platforms, AM/FM radio does not pay for sound recordings. The U.S. is only industrialized nation that doesn’t recognize a performance right and this must change. Overall, we can expect a deeper look at current music copyright laws from numerous perspectives in 2014.

Max Gayle, manager of artist development, Island Def Jam Music Group
Same issue from 2013: selling music in a physical format. Soon enough, Walmart, Best Buy and Target will no longer care to carry physical product in their stores due to low profits.

Ben Stauffer, finance director, Centricity Music
I think that 2014 will be a landmark year in the Access vs. Ownership debate. With album sales likely to finish this year down about 8%, including digital albums being flat, and track sales down about 4% over 2012, I predict that we’ve seen the last of year-over-year growth in “TEA” sales, barring another Adele “21”-like release. Labels and artists will need to react quickly to the changing tide to rework their business models in an industry, which is becoming more dependent on non-sale revenue streams.

Colleen Theis, COO, the Orchard
Successfully managing the consumer shift toward streaming consumption models is an extremely important topic across the industry. 2014 promises to be an exciting and variable landscape, with an unprecedented level of choice in services for consumers and reach of those services across the globe.

Salaam Remi, executive VP of A&R and production – and CEO of Louder than Life label group
Finding the balance between streaming and actual sales. So many artist are making it by not selling music and touring. The music is becoming a byproduct sales-wise. But the record company is bearing the cost of creation and marketing. Getting peoples’ attention to consume an entire LP is tough, unless you’re standing in front of them.

Van Toffler, president of Viacom Media Networks Music & Logo Group
How to successfully navigate through all the social clutter and establish meaningful relationships with fans. There has never been more music out there, which is great for fans, but can also cause confusion. We need the guideposts and curation to help us through.

Tom Corson, president/COO, RCA Records
The opportunity for streaming/subscription to truly scale our business and to explain why it’s healthy for everyone in the food chain, especially artists.

Chris Vanderhook, COO, Myspace
There’s a friction between consumer demand for free (ad-supported) streaming and the cost of making that music available to them. The current model is not sustainable and some predict the demise of these streaming services entirely. But labels rely on streaming services for hundreds of millions of dollars each year and one thing that history has taught us is that consumers dictate to the market, not the other way around. Music consumption is up, but purchasing is down and subscription growth is stagnant. There’s a tension in the content creation-monetization paradigm — a tension between consumers and the music business. The sides are too far apart. What needs to happen (and is inevitable) is innovation to create a new system that works more effectively. In 2014, we won’t see labels die and we won’t see them bleed streaming services dry, either. We’ll see new forward-thinking models presented to consumers — accounting for both market demand and the cost of supplying that demand. It’s less a zero-sum game than it is about breeding another cycle of innovation.

Jim Donio, president, Music Business Association
2014 is already primed to be the year of streaming music. Three major new services — Beats Music, Deezer, and YouTube MusicPass — are expected to launch this year, and Spotify just announced new free, ad-supported tiers for tablets and smartphones, which should help to significantly increase its membership base. With this in mind, it is even more imperative that the industry develops proper methods for measuring streaming plays so they can impact existing sales data. Streaming will only become more prevalent as the years go on, and these services must be included in our regular metrics in order to give us the best picture of the true state of the business. However, none of this can be accomplished without improved data standards, which will be required to alleviate existing digital supply chain and metadata issues regarding unique IDs, artist disambiguation and more. As streaming grows, these issues will become more pronounced unless we do something about it, which is why the first-ever Music Industry Metadata Summit took center stage at Music Biz 2013, where we issued our Music Industry Style Guide. Under the auspices of the new Music Business Association’s Digital and Information Technology Sectors, these issues are prominent on our workgroup agendas for the coming year, and we’re also planning a data-focused event to bring thought leaders together at Music Biz 2014 in May. . .”

Part 1

Part II

Part III (2014)


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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

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