Bono and other music leaders talk streaming’s positive future at Web Summit

u2 canvasSeveral leaders from the music industry spoke last week at the Web Summit in Dublin about the role of streaming for musicians and listeners.

One panel included several managers discussing the current environment for music. Jonathan Dickins, who represents popular singer Adele, spoke favorably about the role of streaming. “Personally, I think streaming’s the future, whether people like it or not, but I don’t believe one size necessarily fits all with streaming,” he said.

He talked about the different attitudes the industry has taken toward Spotify and YouTube. “Labels are trumpeting YouTube as a marketing tool: 10 million views on YouTube and it’s a marketing stroke of genius,” Dickins said. “But on the other hand they’re looking at 10 million streams on Spotify and saying that’s x amount of lost sales.” He opined that Spotify could improve its standing with labels and publishers by windowing, making some music available first on the premium levels and later giving free listening access.

Another panel from the Summit focused on Music and Movies in the 21st Century. At that discussion, U2’s Bono also spoke out in support of a streaming music economy. “The real enemy is not between digital downloads and streaming, the real enemy, the real fight, is between opacity and transparency,” he said. “People pick on Spotify – Spotify give away 70% of their revenues to rights-holders,” he said. “It’s just that people don’t know where the money is because the record companies aren’t being transparent.”

Even after the roller coaster of U2’s free album giveaway, Bono emphasized the importance of artists getting paid for their creative work. “It is clear that there are some traumas as we move from physical to digital and 20th century to the 21st century, and the people who are paying the highest price in this are songwriters rather than performers,” he said. But he was still optimistic about the potential to turn the Internet into a powerful tool that would make money as well as get music to fans.

Anna Washenko