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Biggest tracks could be main losers from user-centric streaming payouts (#SlushMusic)

Research being conducted in Finland into a ‘user-centric’ payments model for music-streaming suggests that the biggest tracks may be the main losers under such a system.

That’s according to Lottaliina Pokkinen, head of legal affairs at the Finnish Musicians’ Union, although she stressed in a session at the Slush Music conference in Helsinki this week that the research is not yet complete.

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How does free ‘promotion’ fit in to the music-streaming era? (#SlushMusic)

“The industry’s problem to solve is we’ve been addicted to promotion for the entire time that the music industry has existed. We’ve always given stuff away to sell something. But that mindset in the consumption world just doesn’t really stack up…”

The music industry’s view in the ‘value gap’ debate, at its simplest is ‘YouTube should pay higher music royalties’. Although the more complex version is ‘legislation should be changed to strip YouTube of its safe-harbour protection and thus put it in a position where it has to pay higher music royalties’.

In his appearance at the Slush Music conference in Helsinki, Beggars Group’s Simon Wheeler was talking about a different kind of value gap: the one between what labels and artists earn for streams of their studio recordings, and how they benefit (if at all) from the ‘promotional’ performances they record for radio stations, TV broadcasters, music blogs, YouTube channels and other media outlets.

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Spotify talks playlists, skip rates and NF’s Nordic-fuelled success (#SlushMusic)

“I would once and for all like to kill the myth that it’s just about something called skip rate.”

Spotify’s Nordic head of shows and editorial Daniel Breitholtz was keen to make something clear in his speech at the Slush Music conference in Helsinki today: the streaming service’s editors aren’t ruled by skip rates when adding and removing songs from their playlists.

Breitholtz said that he’s heard labels of every size talking about skip rates – Spotify defines a skip as a listener jumping away from a track less than 30 seconds in – as the main metric that matters for its programmed playlists.

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WMG’s Stu Bergen: ‘I would caution us not to get drunk on two years of growth’ (#SlushMusic)

As CEO, international and global commercial services at Warner Music Group, Stu Bergen has become one of the main spokespeople for WMG’s strategy in the streaming age.

At the Slush Music conference in Helsinki today, Bergen appeared in a session with the event’s co-founder Kalle Lindroth – a musician in his own right – to talk about some of the market trends both globally and in the Nordics.

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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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Women and music: ‘The famous glass ceiling hasn’t been smashed’ (#SlushMusic)

Earlier this month, 1,993 women signed an open letter calling out sexism, sexual harassment and assault within the Swedish music industry. One prominent major-label executive there has since been suspended following multiple accusations of harassment.

This is the tip of the iceberg, there will surely be more dominoes falling, and discussion of how the music industry can get its house in order around these issues.

Part of that involves more women at every level of the industry, including in the senior roles that recent studies suggest remain largely male. A panel at the Slush Music conference in Helsinki discussed these issues.

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VR and music: ‘The biggest challenge thus far is the storytelling’ (#SlushMusic)

Musical VR is creatively exciting but commercially nascent: key startups are still in their early days, while there’s no clear path for artists and labels to make decent money (or even a return on their investment) in virtual reality right now.

Should that stop them trying? You’ll be enormously unsurprised to hear that the answer was a firm ‘no’ from a session at the Slush Music conference in Helsinki this morning titled ‘How virtual reality will revolutionise music experience / the music industry’.

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UMG’s Jonathan Dworkin: ‘Despacito is more than just a hit’ (#SlushMusic)

As SVP of digital strategy and business development at Universal Music Group, Jonathan Dworkin is playing a significant role in how the biggest major label wants to steer the digital music world in the years to come.

His speech at the Slush Music conference in Helsinki this morning focused on ‘the globalisation of the music business’ at the end of a year that has seen UMG benefit from the biggest-ever breakout hit from Latin America: ‘Despacito’.

“I’m not actually going to talk about the music business. I’m going to talk about the history of the shipping container,” he said. “You think I’m kidding?” He wasn’t.

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The search for the next music/tech giants (#SlushMusic)

2017 has been a fascinating year for digital music, from the growth in paid streaming to a wave of new accelerators and initiatives to help talented music startups get up and running.

A pair of sessions at the Slush Music conference in Helsinki this morning provided some insights into the music/tech world. Raine Group partner Fred Davis offered advice on ‘how to spot a giant’, while Techstars Music MD Bob Moczydlowsky provided an update on how that accelerator is approaching things.

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Evolving exit strategies for music startups (#SlushMusic)

We’ll be blunt: for many music startups, the ‘exit’ is either shutting down when nobody wants their product or service, or an ‘acquihire’ of their team and/or tech by a bigger fish without the kind of valuation that gets investors salivating.

Might there be bigger and better exits ahead? A panel at the Slush Music conference in Helsinki this morning considered how music startups could be ‘building to get bought’.

It included iMuze CEO Yacin Bahi; Plus Eight co-founder John Acquaviva; and Project Everyone consultant Göran Andersson. The moderator was industry consultant Karen Allen.