Midem 2013 was interesting. Attendance was down and everyone was grumbling it was the quietest yet.
As we mentioned in the last blog post (see our last post) we didn’t necessarily think this was a bad thing as we found the quality of the meetings and business being done was considerably higher, with the music industry seemingly beginning to focus on the bottom line (whether through tighter attendance if you’re a cynic or more profit focussed ‘business’ meetings if you’re an optimist). SXSW is next on the cards and it’ll be interesting to see if this trend continues.
In addition, one of the by-products we noticed, in marked contrast to previous years, was the increasing emphasis that a lot of the smaller, independent labels had on winning sync licensing business. Previously it was principally about Direct to Fan (D2F) and getting to the end consumer through the likes of services such as iTunes, Spotify, Pandora etc. Sync was very much the unfashionable, unfathomable, unpopular sister. Most of the people we talked to this year though told the tale of their ambition to (and actually in many cases having done so) win a small handful of synchs over the last 12 months. These high value wins have opened eyes to the fact that no matter how small or independent you are, sync can be a very tangible revenue stream.
We feel (and hope) that this growing awareness of untapped revenue is marking a sea change in the smaller (okay – innovative, young, thrusting and cutting edge!) end of the music business. Where it is becoming more important for all particpants in the eco-system (and not just the big guys) to have contact networks in broadcasters, studios, web production houses all the way through to those that distribute background music in bars and malls. Flip that round and realise that this is because it is also important for those sync/licensing clients to begin to access non-mainstream music.
This is a marked difference to the old style contact networks of physical and digital distributors that used to be the first stop when looking for revenue opportunities. Now both sides of the table need to embrace process to enable them to communicate and, thankfully, technology can enable this. Funnily enough it is the small size of the independents (in headcount) that drives process optimisation even harder.
We are seeing that the demand side of the market is experiencing rapid growth and it’s becoming really important that all elements of the supply chain understand the subtleties of the licensing process. This is also a rapidly changing environment where there are new opportunities by the day as music gets used in more and more media end points.
Getting it wrong can lose (cost) you a lot of money but getting it right can drive rush rewards. And, as we have said before, rush rewards can drive investment in other areas. One-off high margin syncs can be consistently ‘high margin’ and less ‘one-off’ if given the right level of focus. Anyone can do it.