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🔵 Where is the indie coalition?
Trade bodies abound, but action seems somewhat lacking as the majors buy up businesses
Hi there -
Of late, I've covered a few stories involving the major labels investing in businesses to some extent. A fine example would be Universal buying a stake in radio station NTS.
As these slow acquisitions happen, I just find myself thinking the same thing: where are the indie businesses amid all of this?
In our conversation on the Drowned In Sound podcast, Sean Adams mentioned that indie labels and distributors used to block-buy ad space in his magazine, recognising a degree of patronage here. The concept wasn’t tough: by helping the magazine reach indie audiences, the labels gained a platform to advertise their releases
It left me wondering where that kind of mindset is in 2023. I see trade bodies everywhere, but I cannot help but think that when the likes of Universal have managed to buy a stake in NTS, affording it amazing A&R insight, not to mention data galore, something has gone slightly wrong somewhere.
A slow creep is happening, in which the likes of Universal have the financial means to experiment in different areas (its recent forays into music and wellbeing is a case in point), including speculative investments into spaces I'd argue should normally belong to the indies.
Granted, even the term "indie" is debatable these days, but I wonder if we are due some kind of reset wherein a number of the biggest indies might come together to ensure an ecosystem around music continues to thrive.
After all, one might argue that it is a fallacy to think that recorded music just exists on DSPs. It doesn't. There are stories to be told. There is curation needed, arguably more than ever now. In reality, there are various other spaces within the music ecosystem. If these spaces are allowed to diminish or get bought up by major players, the landscape will suddenly feel disproportionately skewed.
I don't wish to come across as a naive idealist, but equally I feel that unless the world of independent music comes together in a genuinely practical manner, a slow, inexorable chipping away at this whole space will continue.
And please, don't create another trade body. I do understand the logic of these, but as harsh as it is to say it, I just don't see much actually happening in that space right now. Talk is cheap - we are at a point where action is the only recourse worth judging something by.
Have a great evening,
🎶 listening to “Silencio” by Moritz Von Oswald. As a man perhaps best known for his incredible, minimal, dub-infused techno work with Mark Ernestus as Basic Channel, it’s quite a surprise to hear a record from MVO that is beat-free. This is meditative, introspective record, well worth your time. Great music to work to.
🤖 playing with Nina, the web3 Bandcamp that I’ve been using for about 18 months now. V2.0 of the site launched and basically removes the need for a crypto wallet among other things. Great improvements - it’s worth checking out. This is a good Twitter thread outlining what’s changed.
Stories from the Music Industry:
Developments around AI continued to accelerate rapidly on Tuesday, as news emerged of an Edith Piaf biopic that will be the first crafted in animation through AI. The project, from Warner Music Entertainment and the production company Seriously Happy, is sanctioned by the iconic French musical artist’s estate, which will be a partner in its creation. A proof of concept for the biopic has already been created, though Warner Music Entertainment is seeking a studio partner to help take the feature forward.
👆🏻Hot take: another great example of a more lean-in approach to AI.
Dubbed “Welcome,” the offering expands Anthym’s music-based team connection experience, launched last year at TechCrunch Startup Battlefield. Employees create “JamTracks,” five songs that correlate to important memories in their lives, such as when they adopted their dog or lost a loved one. In this case, the hiring manager tasks a new hire to complete a JamTrack, which is then shared with the rest of the team, fostering a deeper connection between colleagues.
👆🏻Hot take: I genuinely cannot decide if this is a very cool concept for bringing workers together, or a horrible overreach into the personal memories of staff.
The company now has 103 million paying users for its online music services, up from 85.3 million a year ago. This is a combination of people paying for subscriptions to Tencent Music’s three services – QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo – and people buying digital albums and content from them. However, the company provided some new figures on its subscription revenues specifically: they grew by 42% year-on-year to RMB 3.19bn ($438m at current exchange rates) in Q3.
👆🏻Hot take: the stats are a little spun, granted, but this is still an impressive figure.
Credible MBW sources have told us that another financial player has made a weighty acquisition proposal for BMI, delivered to the music org’s management. This approach commenced in August, subsequent to BMI entering exclusive discussions with NMC. The most interesting thing about the newer proposal? It cites a 15X multiple on BMI’s $145 million annual EBITDA – suggesting an enterprise valuation for the PRO of $2.175 billion.
👆🏻Hot take: I’m marveling at these valuations, given 1) BMI is untested as a for-profit business, and 2) the sheer number of competitors in this space.
Stories from the Broader World of Tech:
Last week, Dan Conway, CEO of the UK's Publishers Association, told the committee that large language models were infringing copyrighted content on an "absolutely massive scale." "We know this in the publishing industry because of the Books3 database which lists 120,000 pirated book titles, which we know have been ingested by large language models," he said. "We know that the content is being ingested on an absolutely massive scale by large language models. LLMs do infringe copyright at multiple parts of the process in terms of when they collect this information, how they store this information, and how they how they handle it. The copyright law is being broken on a massive scale."
👆🏻Hot take: between the evasive position on copyright and the bang-to-rights attitude of the Publisher’s Association, it feels like there is one hell of a legal bust-up coming in this space.
As part of its appeal before the courts in Luxembourg about the designation of Facebook’s Messenger and Marketplace, Meta will argue that Messenger is a chat functionality of Facebook and as such not a separate app and therefore not a separate service. People familiar with the appeal also said the company will argue that Marketplace is a consumer product and not a “gateway” for businesses to target consumers — a requirement to be captured by the Digital Markets Act.
👆🏻Hot take: and so the wriggling begins. Meta - and others soon I’m sure - will fight like hell to argue these platforms should not be regulated in the same way. I suspect it will prove a futile battle.
YouTube has officially rolled out its YouTube Premium-exclusive “enhanced bitrate” 1080p resolution option on Android and TVs, the company announced on Wednesday. The improved video quality launched on iOS first earlier this year and became available on the web in August.
👆🏻Hot take: I actually thought YouTube was already in 1080p on my TV?
Need something else to read? Here you go:
Two new books explore the history of the tape and how it helped spread hip-hop, thrash metal and experimental music around the world one mixtape at a time
👆🏻Hot take: I can’t wait to read these books, being very much from that generation that thrived on cassette culture.
Pupil size and brain-based blood flow don’t lie. Virtual meetings are simply no replacement for in-person interactions.
👆🏻Hot take: in some respects I don’t think the fact that in-person meetings generate more social stimuli is news. I’m not sure anyone would argue that point?
The latest from Motive Unknown’s world:
PJ Harvey’s ‘I Inside The Old Year Dying’ has been nominated for a Grammy in the Best Alternative Music Album category! 🏆
We worked with Partisan Records on this fantastic release for the digital marketing and strategy with this record and we’re so honoured to have been a part of this campaign!
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