The Future Of Music Streaming

22 Sept. 2017 @ Schmidt Theater (Saal)

Speaker: Dave Allen (Director, Artist Advocacy, NORTH Music, US), Manlio Celotti (CEO / MD, Membran Entertainment Group / Orchard Enterprises Entertainment, DE), Ole Obermann (CDO / Executive VP Business Development, Warner Music Group, US), Ralph Pighin (Vice President Central and Eastern Europe, Deezer, DE), Kurt Thielen (Founder / MD, Zebralution, DE)
Moderator: Helienne Lindvall (Head Of Business Relations, Auddly, SE)

Go to programme here.

After an optimistic keynote from Warner Music Group’s Ole Obermann on the potential that lies in the streaming market, are other sectors of the business feeling equally confident? Ralph Pighin, who is VP Central and Eastern Europe at Deezer said yes, definitely, during a panel discussion on the third day of Reeperbahn. “Deezer has grown tremendously and we can see momentum in every country we’re in.” Kurt Thielen, who is MD at digital distributor Zebralution, also shared the optimism, but warned of challenges that lie ahead for the independent sector as major companies compete for a bigger stake of the market. “There’s also competition from other companies outside of our traditional competitors, like Netflix,” he added. For Manlio Celotti, who is CEO of Membran Entertainment Group, local marketing is an aspect that can’t be forgotten amidst all the noise about the merits of globalisation. “I’ve never been anything but optimistic about music,” added Dave Allen, who is a musician and Director of Artist Advocacy at NORTH Music. “However, I’m not sure how good the streaming market is currently for independent and up and coming musicians. We’ve got to make sure we’re supporting the artists who keep feeding the machine.”

Obermann agreed that while the independent sector over-indexed on streaming services at the beginning, now the balance between major label content has swung too far the other way. “The homepage of a streaming service looks like a Top 40 radio station. It’s very difficult if you’re not a superstar artist to break through the noise.” Labels must therefore create better discovery mechanisms off platform that get people excited about music, and drive them onto streaming services. “We’ve all walked into a record store and frozen when overwhelmed. Coming into a streaming service is no different. But the thing we’ve always done is create interest and excitement outside of a record store in order to reach consciousness.”

Thielen said it’s also vital that the music industry finds a way to serve the older demographic as streaming platforms focus on the 16-27 year old market. “We need to give people who still want to buy albums a better service and invest in curation.”

Challenges ahead include monetising emerging markets, which need investment in rights management said Obermann, and battling the growing trend of stream ripping. “Half of streams are still illegal,” Thielen explained. “We have to develop systems but we also have to put pressure on companies that allow stream rippers to work.” In future, Obermann predicted that high definition, videos and car integration will provide the opportunity to add extra tiers onto the traditional €10 a month streaming subscription plan. Thielen imagined a culture package that offers music as well as films and books.

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