Veteran digital-music executive Ted Cohen moderated the “Listener’s Choice” panel at RAIN Summit West on Sunday in Las Vegas. His mission was to tease insights from music-service executives about how they differentiate, attract listeners, and navigate business realities of a crowded market. (Full audio below.)
“Everybody’s got 25-million songs. How do you make it interesting? How do you stand out? How do you get people to tune in?” –Ted Cohen
Sitting in the panelist chairs were Anthony Bay (CEO, Rdio), Darryl Ballantyne, (CEO, LyricFind), Thierry Ascarez (VP, Radionomy), Mike Novak (CEO, K-LOVE), David Porter (CEO, 8tracks), and Peter Berg Steffenson (CEO, Moodagent).
Talking about the evolution of on-demand music services, Steffenson noted, “A lot of them were like spreadsheets in the beginning. Beats is doing an interesting job with a layer on top of that. That is moving us from the first generation into the second generation.”
Darryl Ballantyne agreed: “A lot of the services are designed and priced for the people who built them, not the people who use them. Early on, the services were just a directory of music, which was great for the people who built them. But that’s not a mass-market product.”
On the differentiation point, David Porter observed, “On point of confusion in the press has been the co-mingling of services that are on-demand with those that are radio. You see a lot of articles that compare Pandora to Spotify. They are very different.”
“I think [labels] are befuddled as a group, about how they market to music services when an artist starts to take off.” –Ted Cohen
Cohen moved the conversation to how labels work with music services to promote their artists, participate fully in the access-is-ownership model, and create value for listeners. “[Labels] knew how to do it with radio and Tower Records. It’s harder to do with iTunes and streaming services.”
Anthonay Bay had this perspective: “Artists get paid for listening, not for buying. When a new record comes out, you want to promote it. But you also want to promote the artist as a brand, and you can do that in a service like ours, where users can listen to earlier music. These things are additive. People are listening to more music.”
Ballantyne concurred: “Music is more important than ever.
Below is the full audio: