On Saturday, I was walking through Brooklyn Heights and I ran into Davey Inglehoff, and indy crossover radio promotion rep I knew from back in the X-Mix, Armand Van Helden days. We got to talking about the state of the industry and Davey let me know how it is from the inside looking out. Basically, he imparted that if you’re on the inside, your world keeps getting smaller and smaller. Lot’s of people out of work and those who are left are scrambling to try to figure out the digital music industry, which bypassed them in 2004 as iTunes garnered its 100 millionth download.
We talked about how everything is moving towards digital and DVD, even as the labels try to hold onto the CD format by releasing special box sets, dangling added value content to keep the consumer interested. Funny that CD sales actually increased this year. So many people have discussed these turns of events on blogs, web sites and list serves over the last 4 years or so, but isn’t it still just absolutely amazing how the whole industry has been turned on its head by technology? Pretty incredible, I think.
So, what’s one to do if you’re an old school industry head, your options are limited and you feel the world closing in on you? 5 years ago, you were living it up on South Beach during the height of the boom, partying like it’s 1999. Today, you’re struggling to figure out where the next opportunity is. Is your music career over? Is there still a need for radio promotion when the era of satellite radio is upon us? Is their still a need for 12″ dance promotion when DJs are playing CD’s and MP3? How do you transition to the digital music industry when all your life all you know is what you’ve been doing?
Well, I’m here to give you a few tips. First, you must subscribe to the Digital Media Wire and Music Industry Network email newsletters. That’ll give you a head start and enable you to keep tabs on the digital music industry as it evolves. Next, you might want to gather up some cash and start attending industry specific events. Digital Media Wire is holding it’s Digital Music Forum in New York City on March 2, 2005 at the French Institute, 55 East 59th Street. This is a who’s who of music industry execs mingling with new leaders of the digital music digerati.
Confirmed speakers for the 2005 forum include:
- Brad Duea – President, Napster
- Jeffrey Bronikowski – VP, Bus. Dev., eLabs, Universal Music Group
- Ted Cohen – SVP, Digital Development & Distribution, EMI Music
- Thomas Gewecke – SVP, Digital Business Group, Sony BMG
- Brian Garrity – Senior Editor, Billboard
- Gerd Leonhard – Co-Author, “The Future of Music” / Senior Advisor, SonyNetServices
- Jeff Howe – Contributing Editor, Wired
- Phil Corwin – Chief Lobbyist, Sharman Networks (owner of Kazaa)
- Martin J. Elgison – Partner, Intellectual Property, Alston & Bird
- Steve Marks – General Counsel, RIAA
- Jonathan Potter – Executive Director, Digital Media Association
- Robert Acker – VP, RealPlayer & Music Services, Real Networks
- Peter Diemer – VP Sales & Marketing, Musicrypt.com
- David Card – VP & Senior Analyst, Jupiter Research
- John Kilcullen – President & Publisher, Billboard
- Ned Sherman – CEO, Digital Media Wire
- David Del Beccaro – President & CEO, MusicChoice
- Peter Rafelson – President and CEO / Producer, Rafelson Media
- Nancy Beaton – GM, Wireless Music & Personalization, Sprint
- Ralph Simon – Chairman of Americas, Mobile Entertainment Forum
It’s not too late to attend this year’s Midem event, the music industry’s largest conference, which takes place January 23-27th at the Palais Des Festivales, Cannes France. This year’s MidemNet 2005 Technology forum hosts keynotes Chuck D and John Kennedy, Chairman & CEO, IPFI. Panel topics include Digital Indies – Making Their Own Way, PHASE TWO – Reshaping The Face of Digital Music and SUPERDISTRIBUTION – Monetising the P2P Revolution.
If that’s not enough to get your new year started off digitally correct, make sure you check out the new offerings from Apple released today at the Macworld conference in San Francisco. Founder Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod Shuffle, a flash-drive enabled MP3 player, which sells for $99. It’s much slimmer than a traditonal iPod and it’s aimed at the mainstream music consumer who won’t shell out $399 for the larger and popular piece of hardware. Today, Apple reported earnings of over 70 cents a share, above analyst estimates. The stock hit a high of over $75 in after-hours trading. Funny that it was about $13 over 2 years ago. I had about 30 shares and I’m kicking myself now for selling them. I still own a hundred or so shares in Real Networks, but they don’t seem to have an answer to Apple’s dominance. And, just recently Apple closed the door on Real Networks’ hack called “Harmony”, which allows you to play files downloaded from Real’s Rhapsody service on the iPod. Even with competitor sneak attacks, Apple remains the leader in digital music distribution, software and hardware with its combination iTunes music application, iTunes online store and iPod hardware.
The competition still haven’t gotten it right, but by this time next year players like Sony and Microsoft are partnering up to go after Apple and shake its early dominance of the legal download market.
Stay tuned for more on the digital music industry tomorrow.