The theme of UK indie body AIM’s AIM Connected conference this week was ‘strong opinions’, and Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) boss Kim Bayley absolutely did not disappoint on that score.

Her speech offered some blunt truths, including her warning that “more music is not better music”. Bayley explained: “My members have been among those guilty of pushing the idea that more music is a good thing. They claim they have 10m or 20m or 50m tracks. It’s nonsense. No one needs that much music,” she said, before noting that this is not just a digital phenomenon with a reference to the annual Record Store Day. “This year we have had over 700 products submitted, some of them created with an astonishing lack of thought as to whether anyone would actually like to buy them,” she said. “More is definitely less in this respect.”

Bayley also outlined her worries about the charts – ERA owns 50% of the UK’s Official Charts Company, which she praised for its market-research abilities. But… “In terms of the public-facing chart, we clearly have a problem. It is not as relevant as it once was. Who knows what is number 1?” said Bayley. “The industry has come up with increasingly complex and confusing calculation methods to try and fit the square peg of streaming into the round hole of a traditional chart. It’s not working. The Charts Company have already recognised the problem and the marketing team have plans in place and now it’s up to us as an industry to fix it.”

Bayley also called for music streaming services to offer more than just £9.99-a-month tiers. “Last year ERA commissioned a report into this subject from specialist pricing consultants at OC&C. Their calculation was that the UK streaming market could be as much as 50% bigger than current projections suggest – as long as the industry diversifies its offer. Amazon has already begun to do this and is reaping the rewards but we need more.”

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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