6th Vienna Music Business Research Days in Retrospective

VMBRD-logo“Financing Music in the Digital Age” was this year’s main topic of the 6th Vienna Music Business Research Days 2015 held at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. International music experts and music business researchers approached this topic from different perspectives on the third conference day on Oct. 1.

However, the conference started with the Young Scholars’ Workshop on September 29. Graduate and PhD students from Brazil, Ecuador, Germany, Hungary, Norway and Poland presented their theses in a closed workshop in group of highly regarded music business/industry researchers. The best paper of the Young Scholars’ Workshop was awarded to Abner Pérez of the Universidad de las Americas Quito, Ecuador for his paper “Compulsory Licensing in the Recording Industry”. The paper will be published in the International Journal of Music Business Research (IJMBR).

The second conference day on September 30, was devoted to academic music business research. Scholars from the Australia, Austria, China, Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain highlighted in their papers the results of their music business/industry research.

The third conference day was then held in cooperation with the Waves Music Festival & Conference, Vienna & Bratislava.

For a detailed coverage of the entire conference– including most of the papers and presentation slides as well as the audio and video streams of almost all talks and discussions of Oct 1 – please click here.



On the second conference day, music business researchers from all around the world presented their recent findings. All presenting conference participants in alphabetical order:


Bodo Balasz, Joan Josep Vallbe & Christian Handke, University of Barcelona, University of Amsterdam, Erasmus University Rotterdam: Knocking on Heaven’s Door – User Preferences on Digital Cultural Distribution (presentation slides & full paper)


Flath Beate, University of Paderborn: Be You? On the Relation of Individualised Music Consumption and Diversity in the Digital Age (presentation slides & abstract)


Hitters Erik & Wes Wierda, Erasmus University Rotterdam: Expanding Isomorphism; the Case of the Dutch Music Publishing Industry (presentation slides & abstract)


Montoro-Pons Juan, University of Valencia: The Determinants of Profits in the Recorded Music Sector (presentation slides & full paper)


Morrow Guy & Fangjun John Li, Macquarie University Sydney: The Chinese Music Industries: Top Down in the Bottom Up Age (full paper)


Quack Sigrid & Glaucia Peres da Silva, University of Duisburg-Essen: Recipe of Success? Factors that Matter on the Stabilisation of Music Genres and Markets (presentation & discussion as MP3s, presentation slides & full paper)


Schwetter Holger, Leuphana University Lüneburg: Sharing – What else? (presentation slides & full paper)





Eröffnung-2We had the honor that the new Vice President for External Affairs of University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Dr. Christian Meyer, warmly welcomed our international guests on the third conference day on his very first day in office. The third conference day focused on “Financing Music in the Digital Age”. International experts and academics discussed new and alternative revenue sources for the music economy such as music streaming for the classic music business, crowdfunding and business angel funding.

Click here for the video stream and here for the audio file:



Dagmar AbfalterDagmar Abfalter of the Institute for Cultural Management and Cultural Studies (IKM) at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna presented a joint paper with Serge Poisson-de Haro, who is an Associate professor at HEC Montreal. In her talk, Dagmar Abfalter questioned “Opera Streaming as a New Revenue Source?”

Therefore, she compared the MET Live in HD of the New York Metropolitan Opera with the online live opera streaming concept of the Vienna State Opera. The MET started its streaming project in 2006 with six productions. The business model proofed successful and MET Live in HD was soon break-even. Since 2006, 14 million tickets were sold and Bloomberg reported a net profit of US $11.0m in 2012. In the season 2013/14 ten productions were screened in 2,000 cinemas in 66 countries generating a revenue of US $26.2m.

The Vienna State Opera started its streaming projects – Wiener Staatsoper Live – in 2013 and delivered 45 productions to 9,000 customers worldwide. Numbers on revenues and profits are disclosed, but it can be assumed that Wiener Staatsoper Live is currently not break-even.

By comparing MET’s and State Opera’s business models, Dagmar Abfalter and Serge Poisson-de Haro did not find crucial differences between both offers apart from the technological concept. Both search for profits by fostering premium subscription and by lowering production costs. Brands, partnerships and attractive stars are the key resources for both opera houses. The key processes aim at high reproduction quality and they are controlled in house. And the customer value proposition is fulfilled by watching world class opera singers in a relaxed atmosphere (cinema and living room).

However, further questions remained to be answered. Is there a cannibalization effect between opera streaming and ticket sales? Is there a crowding out effect for smaller opera houses? Are there any changes in the opera genre, the production and consumption patterns related to social and cultural changes? However, the main question of Dagmar Abfalter’s talk – “Opera Streaming as a New Revenue Source?” – could be answered with yes, since MET Live in HD contributed 9 percent to the unrestricted operating revenues of the opera house.

Click here for the audio file of the presentation

and here for the video stream

Click here for the presentation slides.


Panel Opera StreamingIn the following, Dagmar Abfalter, moderated a panel discussion on “The Economic Relevance of Classical Music Streaming” with Christof Papousek (Cineplexx International GmbH, Vienna), Luke O’Shaughnessy (The Opera Platform, Brussels), Christopher Widauer (Vienna State Opera) and Robert Zimmermann (Berlin Phil Media GmbH of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra). The discussion unveiled that music streaming in the classical music field has a very different impact than in the popular music business. The main incentive for opera streamers is to view opera and concert performances live either in movie theatres (e.g. MET in HD) or on the Internet in the living room (e.g. Vienna State Opera and Digital Concert Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra). Thus, the business models differ. MET Live in HD screens operas live to movie theatres. In Austria, Cineplexx International is MET’s partner. Cineplexx’ CFO Christof Papousek highlighted that live opera sells 35,000 tickets per season, but he also stressed that the market is already saturated. Exclusivity is important and therefore the cinemas have to be “transformed” for opera events, since opera has to be different than e.g. a James Bond movie.

The Vienna State Opera and the Digital Concert Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra operate a different concept. They transmit the performances live on the Internet. Robert Zimmermann (Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra) explained that the Digital Concert Hall is an important tool for communicating with the fan base. Christopher Widauer of the Vienna State Opera confirmed and told that some of their subscribers in Japan get up as early as 4am to follow the live stream of a Madama Butterfly performance in the Vienna State Opera.

Another interesting fact is that opera and concert online streams are enjoyed in a social context and not just individually on the computer. Robert Zimmermann showed that the average number of viewers per concert in the Digital Concert Hall is 2.4 and Christopher Widauer confirmed this with numbers from the Vienna State Opera.

Although opera and classical concert streaming is a highly relevant tool for the top opera houses and concert halls, the question remains, if this business model also works for smaller venues. Luke O’Shaughnessy represents a platform for large but also small and medium sized European opera houses that is funded by the European Commission and TV station ARTE. Therefore, “The Opera Platform” is freely accessible online since springtime 2015 and seems to be a success according to growing user numbers.

Eventually, all panelists agreed that opera and classical concert streaming is not just a tool of costumer relationship, but a relevant and growing additional revenue source.

Click here for the audio file of the presentation and discussion with the audience

and here for the video stream


Kieran GarveyKieran Garvey, Policy Programmes Manager and Research Associate at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance of Cambridge Judge Business School, gave a talk on “Alternative Financing of Music”. He explained that crowdfunding is not just a recent phenomenon in highlighting Mozart’s efforts to find subscribers for his privately organized concerts in Vienna in the late 18th century. However, modern music crowdfunding starts in 1997, when the rock band Marillion raised US $60,000 from their fans to finance a new album. In 2001, a Boston musician, Brian Camelio, established the first crowdfunding platform ArtistShare.

Since then crowdfunding has been grown tremendously. The crowdfunding volume in Europe has increased 6 times from EUR 0.5bn to EUR 3.0bn in the years from 2012 to 2014. Although music projects were the blueprint for later crowdfunding campaigns, music currently plays a minor role in the overall crowdfunding volume. Digging into Kickstarter’s statistics, we can see that music projects account just for 8.4 percent (US $141.6m) of total funds raised by crowdfunding. The share of 22.8 percent (21,155 projects) of successfully funded music projects, however, highlights that most the music projects are smaller than projects of other sectors.

Kieran Garvey distinguished between crowdfunding platforms with a focus on audio (e.g. Pledge Music and SellaBand), on technology (e.g. Kickstarter and CrowdCube), on concerts and events (e.g. Living Indie and OpenStage) and on scholarships and research (e.g. Hubbub and Experiment). Therefore, promoters of a music crowdfunding campaign has to carefully select the best platform for their purposes.

The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance also did research on the motivations of crowdfunders. The top five reasons to spend money is (1) the quality of the campaign; (2) doing social good; (3) to support and enable a specific project; (4) the way the money is used and (5) the quality of the team. The musicians’ top 5 motivations to launch a campaign were (1) PR and press coverage for the project; (2) more control over the project; (3) a need for equity; (4) no alternative way of funding and (5) to get money from real people/fans.

The key factors affecting the success of a campaign were also identified by the researchers of Cambridge University. The quality of the campaign ranks highest, followed by regular contact and communication with the fans, a large social network, engaged friends and family members, a suitable crowdfunding platform, attractive rewards for the funders, managing the platform’s dynamics and the momentum i.e. to launch a campaign at the right time.

At the end of his talk, Kieran Garvey highlighted some very successful music crowdfunding campaigns such as Amanda Palmer’s campaign for her album “Theatre is Evil” collecting US $1.2m on Kickstarter, Neil Young’s Pono Music Player with a total collection of US $6.3m and the Foo Fighter’s “Rock 1000” concert.

Kieran Garvey finally highlighted the trends for the future of music crowdfunding in subscription models, revenue share projects, match funding (e.g. with institutional funders such as Arts Councils), DIY crowdfunding, cross border projects and a trend to more crowdfunded concerts and gigs.

Click here for the audio file of the presentation

and discussion with the audience

and here for the presentation slides.



Andreas MahringerAfter the lunch break music start-up entrepreneur, Andreas Mahringer, highlighted his project “Record Bird” and how to get to be funded as music start-up. Music start-ups are a hard and stony field according to Andreas Mahringer. Music is emotional and the music market is very complex. The music industry is, nevertheless, a fascinating sector. Andreas, then, shared some of his experiences with the audience. Start-up entrepreneurs should listen to everyone’s insight but they have to decide by themselves. The beliefs have to be substantiated and validated to stay objectively. Start-up entrepreneurs should get proof from the market and have to build confidence in investors. Therefore, Andreas clearly stated: “Don’t piss of the middlemen. They will be important allies in the process of start-up building.” And he concluded that it is better to have a mix of funds instead of relying just on one single funder.

Then, business “angelina” Selma Prodanovich stepped in to add the investor’s perspective. She stated: “What is really important for the investors is that the founders really now what they are talking about”. If there is problem to be solved and if the solution is simple this is a good starting point for her to engage in a project. Selma concluded “We invest in people. If there are good people than the ideas can transform. It’s about passion”.

Click here for the audio file of the presentation

and Selma Prodanovich’ comments

and here for the video stream



Panel Start-up FundingSelma Prodanovich and Andreas Mahringer then joined the panel discussion on “Music Start-up Funding in the Digitized Music Economy” with music manager Peter Jenner and LastFM co-founder and business angel investor, Michael Breidenbrücker. Moderator Jakob Steinschaden opened the discussion by asking Selma Prodanovich how she felt on investing in the music business? Selma admitted that she normally would not have to invest into a music start-up company, since the music market is “not the market you should go”, but in the case of Record Bird she liked the founder, his idea and his team. And Record Bird is more about technology than on music and therefore she was convinced to invest. Than Michael Breidenbrücker was asked for his receipt of success. The LastFM co-founder ironically answered “not to invest in music projects”. The main success factor in the music business, however, is a business model that does not depend on rightsholders and labels. UK music manager (Pink Floyd, The Clash, Billy Bragg), Peter Jenner, also doubted if it is good idea to invest in music start-up companies. He did not see any interesting music start-ups in the UK and blamed this on the copyright system that does not embrace technology. Jenner: “We have a very hostile environment. The first steps to success are very hard, slowly becoming easier”. Start-up founder Andreas Mahringer agreed that the music industry is consolidated as never before, but there is still money in it, if you can offer an additional value for the key players as in the case of Record Bird as information platform of record releases. Michael Breidenbrücker highlighted that the environment was always hostile to music start-ups in the music business by telling his story about founding LastFM in London in 2001. Nobody believed in the project and the majors were not interested to license their catalogues. He remembered one music executive arguing against LastFM that his desk top had no speakers and therefore listening music from the computer was no alternative for his stereo system. Nevertheless Michael Breidenbrücker believed that venture capitalists and artist match very well since both are working on disrupting a system.

Click here for the audio file of the panel discussion and the discussion with the audience

and here for the video stream



Abner PerezAfter the panel discussion Carsten Winter and Peter Tschmuck announced the winner of the best paper presented in the Young Scholars’ Workshop. Abner Pérez of the Universidad de las Americas Quito in Ecuador was awarded for “Compulsory Licensing in the Recording Industry”. The winner’s paper is considered to be published in the International Journal of Music Business Research.


© all photos by Magdalena Tschmuck






Media coverage of the 6th Vienna Music Business Research Days 2015


Promocionmusical.es: 6th Vienna Music Business Research Days Call for Papers

Wyrzykowska.net, September 10, 2015: Vienna Music Business Research Days (VMBRD)

Hypebot, September 11, 2015: Hypebot’s Music Industry News: Andreas Mahringer (Record Bird)

APA, September 24, 2015: Wiener Konferenz widmet sich Musikfinanzierung im digitalen Zeitalter.

Futurezone, September 28, 2015: Wie man Music-Start-ups finanziert.

MICA, September 29, 2015: Waves Vienna Music Conference – Vienna Music Business Research Days 2015

Salzburger Nachrichten, September 30, 2015: Wie aus Oper großes Kino wird.

Musikpressedienst vom 15. Oktober 2015: Wien: Wien: Crowdfunding braucht Kampagne

Musikpressedienst vom 15. Oktober 2015: Wien: Opern- und Konzertstreaming wird wichtige Einkommensquelle

Musikmarkt vom 15. November 2015: Musikfinanzierung im digitalen Zeitalter





2 Responses to “6th Vienna Music Business Research Days in Retrospective”

  1. October 16, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Thank you for publish our coverage of your Congress at PromocionMusical.es 🙂

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October 2015



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