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Tech, innovation and music: ‘Pick one little thing and go deep!’

“VR is shit! It’s shit but it doesn’t have to be. Certainly the hardware’s not all the way there yet, it’s quite bulky and if you put it on for an hour or so you’re going to get a pretty raging headache and neck ache. But the real problem is the content is shit. The music industry trying to make you go see a concert in VR is about as boring as I can imagine.”

Scott Cohen can always be relied on for plenty of quotable moments when he appears on conference stages. Warner Music Group’s chief innovation officer, recorded music, keynoted the ‘Technology, Innovation and Startups’ track at NY:LON Connect, the conference that Music Ally co-runs with the Music Business Association (Music Biz), with this year’s taking place in New York last week.

Cohen’s thoughts on VR developed on a theme he talked to Music Ally about in late 2018, complete with his anecdote about feeling fully, thrillingly immersed in a VR boxing game, but being left cold by many of the current musical VR experiences.

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WMG’s Scott Cohen talks innovation: ‘What’s coming next, and what do we need to do?’

Ever since co-founding distributor The Orchard in 1997, Scott Cohen has been known as one of the music-industry executives with an intense curiosity about new technologies and their potential applications for musicians and rightsholders – even when (or perhaps, especially when) they are disruptive to current business models and ways of thinking.

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Scott Cohen: ‘The music industry isn’t broken. It never was’ (#SlushMusic)

Attendees at the Slush Music conference in Helsinki this morning may have turned up expecting to hear The Orchard co-founder Scott Cohen telling them why the music industry is broken, and how he’s going to fix it. That was, after all, the title of his session. It was a red herring.

“Once a week somebody comes into my office to tell me ‘the music business is broken and I know how to fix it’. And I started thinking about that a bit, and I couldn’t find the reason it was broken,” he said, by way of introduction.

“I looked at the labels. Is it broken for the major labels? I looked at the charts: they seem to have all the hits, they have the back catalogue. Doesn’t seem to be broken for them. The independent community is thriving and their market share is growing every year. It doesn’t seem to be broken for the record labels.”

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Is social media bad for musicians’ psychological health?

The always-on culture of social media and its increasing demands for musicians’ time may be bad for their psychological health, according to Cooking Vinyl owner Martin Goldschmidt.

“One of the big changes that has happened is that artists have to be incredibly engaged in social media – and this has been a massive [shift] for artists over the last 10 years,” he said, speaking on a The Future of the Music Industry panel at the BIME conference in Bilbao.

“They have to be on several social media platforms and I am just wondering if the next stage is if they are going to have to visually record part of the recording process. Not only will you be able to stream the new release, but you can also see it in VR.”