In advance of NY:LON CONNECT 2023, we asked Matt Urmy, co-founder & CEO of collaboration platform Artist Growth – which is co-sponsor of the event’s Innovation and Startups track – to share with us the exciting opportunities he sees ahead in 2023. Urmy lays out eight clear messages designed to help readers navigate an industry which has been subject to a “pretty hostile takeover”, but one that he says is now a “wonderland” – if you approach it with open eyes.

1: Don’t scoff at the other guys.

What you see depends on where you stand. Challenges are opportunities. I always counsel studying how people in other industries solved their unique problems by leaning into transformation. Inspiration is everywhere, and when we sequester our perspective to the culture or industry we natively identify with, or work in, we lose so much. Things can only be in plain sight in the spaces where we are pointing our eyes.

Matt Urmy

2: Creators shouldn’t be pinning their dreams on sponsorship.

Sponsorship money (in all its forms) is loyal to the needs of its own objectives. I think it’s a great way for artists to earn extra cash, but don’t burn years chasing sponsorship – AI is coming for the low-hanging fruit, and my advice is to embrace that and use every tool available to create what matters to you – then focus on creating a culture and building communities that resonate with your contributions to the world. When a creator is able to cultivate real community, watch how fast those corporate dollars start coming in.

IMHO, seamless collaboration is the key – for the creative process, as well as execution in business. Find ways to streamline the process across the board. Think global, and embrace the tools that make it as simple as you know it should/can be.

3: Fundamentals matter when it comes to innovation.

The basics rarely ever change,  and the fact that humans need to connect to art and artists is a great example – don’t forget that. Celebrity isn’t just a product of great marketing; it’s also a process of sharing, born by the human desire to link into a voice, a vision – a creation – made by another human that resonates and helps us get through the days, years — the changes in our lives.

We know life is crazy, but gravity is our constant – what does change is the context and the variables in play. Artists and companies need to own their individuality and find their people. The digital marketplace provides real-time feedback to guide us on the journey of learning/earning our voices. Humans are hardwired to resonate with great storytelling – and the fundamentals of that craft are rock solid. Lock into the basics, then listen to the market’s voice and enjoy the dance of discovery through iteration.

4: Don’t believe your own bullshit.

We’re all brilliant. We’re all fools. Methodologies are pathways that cut through the jungle – use them when it’s helpful, cut your own path when it matters. [Hint: this will happen several times a day, in your head]. Don’t fall for the lies you desperately want to tell yourself. Clarity comes from accountability and pushing team perspectives to the limit when interpreting how the data jives with the intuitions. If you can’t name at least three people with a proven track record for successfully delivering value in business that you can turn to for sage counsel, then you are at a disadvantage, no matter what stage you are in your career.

Your head is full of music and noise; always be paying attention to what you’re hearing and knowing what it is you’re listening for.

5: Payments will be a competitive lane.

Watch the companies that are thinking beyond just moving people’s money around.

There’s nothing quite like a sugar high and fintech’s move into media is a big ol’ bag of jelly beans. That’s not to say candy can’t help you finish the race – I’m a distance runner, and there is nothing quite like that sugar hit at mile 20. There’s no question that fintech has the promise to bring speed and innovative models to bear that will reshape how businesses (large and small) can thrive and sustain. This also means the marketplace will be full of fast-talking (or coding) hucksters that want to break things for the sake of breaking things, steal your money with snake-oil promises of software development magic, or build something just enough to get rich, then discard it. It is possible to disrupt the status quo while simultaneously strengthening an economy and the community that operates within it.

Don’t sleep on the companies that are bringing a measured approach to innovation in this space…actually, those are the ones you should follow closely – put another way, focus on more than what’s being hyped. Let’s create enduring wealth for our community, which means transparency and a commitment to the long term.

6: Ownership is changing across the globe.

How many subscriptions do you currently have? Do you even know the exact number? Who owns the content, and how is it split? Distributed? I doubt you think about it when your eyes are closed and you’re lost in the center of that song that has your brain all tied up in knots between your headphones.

Actually, if you’re reading this, you probably do think about it….but I’d bet most of my marbles that many of the people you hang out with don’t think about it. I know for a fact my kids don’t think about it. They just wanna press play and get straight to that feeling. It’s beautiful. It’s horrifying.

Lean in. Stay up late. Read the fine print. Draw a big line in the sand that protects our art and our artists – gets them the financial security to focus on making the art we need them to make.

7: Artists have to embrace being entrepreneurs.

This means accepting the responsibility for the success or failure of their venture/dreams. Knowing what we want is more important than ever. In a world where you can chase anything – it’s never been more critical to have a compass and know how to use it. If creators refuse to take the reins until they have enough money to hire a captain to co-helm the ship with them, then they are just floating rudderless in a sea of digital waves.

We’ve been living in the meta-verse our entire lives – in our heads – technology is just unlocking our ability to manifest these dreams into sensory digital experiences. Music is the one ingredient that is required in order for every form of media to resonate.

We all know the cliche that artists aren’t good at business; I burned most of my 20’s believing that – then I built a company worth millions. Entrepreneurship is a highly creative exercise. It’s hard, but you can’t chop an onion without crying… until you can.

8: The music industry has been acquired.

The music industry has been acquired by the digital media industry, and it was a pretty hostile takeover. So what now? …Welcome to wonderland, where everything runs on music. I suggest you don’t despair about the “good ol’ days”… and dream BIG.

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