23
Nov
22

13th International Music Business Research Days in Retrospective

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After the Poplive! project team of the Erasmus University Rotterdam had successfully organized the International Music Business Research Days 2021, the conference took place again this year at the mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. Based on the main topic of the partner conference – Parallel Societies – this year’s talks and discussions focused on “Parallel Worlds in the Music Industry” on 20 October 2022.

On the morning of the third day of the conference, Beate Flath from the University of Paderborn dealt with the “New Virtual Worlds for Music”. Based on case studies such as the avatar artist Hatsune Miku, the ABBA Voyage Music Hall in London and the concert performances of musicians in the video game Fortnite, Beate Flath showed that these virtual music applications are by no means parallel worlds, but are extensions or supplements to real music life. A kind of parallel world was also created by the numerous lockdowns during the COVID 19 pandemic in the past two years. The manifold effects of the pandemic are discussed in the recently published anthology “Rethinking the Music Business”, which was presented by Guy Morrow from the University of Melbourne. The subsequent panel discussion with Guy Morrow, Beate Flath, Zarja Peters and Daniel Nordgård referred to both the new virtual music worlds and the book presentation and tried to trace new developments in music business.

The afternoon, which was also the kick-off event for the conference “Parallel Societies” of IASMP-DACH and the Society for Popular Music Research (GfPM), was entirely dedicated to the topic “Parallel Worlds of Music Streaming”. Hyojung Sun (University of York) and David Hesmondhalgh (University of Leeds) addressed current developments in the music streaming economy in their presentations. Hyojung Sun’s keynote, entitled “Asset Economy in the Music Streaming Business”, focused on the current acquisitions of music catalogues by the music majors and new players such as the Hipgnosis Songs Fund. David Hesmondhalgh went on to show how the algorithms of music recommendation systems not only determine music selection, but can also foster social inequalities. These effects of the music streaming economy were then discussed in detail by the two keynote speakers with the Vienna-based musician Yasmo and the founder of the label collective Analogsoul, Fabian Schütze, under the direction of Hannes Tschürtz (ink music).

On the previous day, October 19, the Conference Track Day took place, in which researchers from Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the USA presented and discussed current results of music industry and business research. Among the topics were the production network perspective in the music industry, the functioning of netlabels, the Internet of Musical Things, the live music industry in the Netherlands and the role of blockchain technology and NFTs in the music business.

The 13th International Music Business Research Days traditionally kicked off on the first day – October 18 – with the Young Scholars’ Workshop, in which PhD and master students from Canada, Trinidad & Tobago, the USA and the UK presented their projects and discussed them with mentors. The presentation of the Best Paper Award, this time to Farley J. Joseph from the University of the West Indies/Trinidad & Tobago for his paper entitled “Sustaining innovation: Online concert models in a post-COVID-19 Trinidad & Tobago”, amarked the end of the conference on October 20.

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13th International Music Business Research Days 2022

„Parallel Worlds in the Music Industry“

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YOUNG SCHOLARS‘ WORKSHOP on OCTOBER 18 (program)

 

CONFERENCE TRACK DAY on OCTOBER 19 (program)

Abel François, Nicolas Lagios & Pierre-Guillaume Méon, Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium: The effect of the Eurovision Song Contest on European Union identity (full paper)

Cuadrado-García Manuel & Juan D. Montoro-Pons, University of València, Spain: Studying consumer experience in live music from a multi-sensory approach

Guichardaz Rémy, Laurent Bach & Eric Schenk, Université de Strasbourg & INSA Strasbourg, France: Blockchain and NFT technologies: the future of the music industry? (presentation, full paper)

Hitters Erik & Martijn Mulder, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Slave to superstar. The live music industry in the Netherlands as a superstar economy (presentation)

Hondros Konstantin & Sigrid Quack, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany: Real digital utopias or online waiting rooms? Releasing music alternatively with netlabels (presentation, full paper)

Janowska Anna Annetta & Tove Henriksson, Warsaw School of Economics, Poland & Stockholm University, Sweden:  Music and power. Power relations in today’s independent/ niche music industry through a global production network perspective

Kolokytha Olga, Raffaela Gmeiner, Milja Vriesema & Suzan van Kempen, University of Vienna, Austria: Smells like GPN spirit: the Global Production Network approach in different areas of the music industry

Lazzaro Elisabetta & Luca Turchet, University for the Creative Arts Epsom Campus, UK & University of Trento, Italy: Mapping the business of Internet of Musical Things

Morgan Benjamin & Robert Prey, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia & University of Groningen, The Netherlands, Optimization and artistic identity on streaming platforms: Artist brand music and platform complementors

Morrow Guy, University of Melbourne, Australia: Music artist managers: Remuneration, equity, and sustainability in the popular music business ecology

Peters Zarja & Phillip Cartwright, IESA Institut d’études supérieures des arts Paris, France: Innovation, disruption and ownership: Perspectives on NFT technology for managing property rights in the music industry (presentation, full paper)

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INVITED CONFERENCE DAY

„PARELLEL WORLDS IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY“ on OCTOBER 20

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1_Flath_2The third conference day was opened by Beate Flath from the University of Paderborn with the keynote address “New Virtual Worlds in the Music Industry”. After clarifying the concept of virtuality, which was originally derived from the Latin “virtus” for manliness or virtuousness, the Ms Flath used examples such as the musician avatar Hatsune Miku, the ABBA Voyage Music Hall, Fortnite Party Royale and the Second Life artist Gabriel da Silva to highlight different manifestations of virtual music worlds. With the help of the explanatory approach of live music ecology, Beate Flath undertook a theoretical classification of virtual music worlds in the existing music economy. She demonstrated that these are by no means virtual parallel worlds, but rather extensions and additions to existing live music worlds. In this context, one can therefore also speak of virtual live music ecologies that are strongly rooted in the non-virtual live music business and closely intertwined with it. (video stream)

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2_MorrowGuy Morrow from the University of Melbourne then presented the new anthology “Rethinking the Music Business”, published by Springer and co-edited by Daniel Nordgård (University of Agder in Kristiansand) and Peter Tschmuck (University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna). The first part of the book brings together contributions on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the music business. In the first contribution, George Musgrave highlights the negative effect how the pandemic affected the mental health of musicians, because of existential fears on the one hand and crises of meaning on the other. The dramatic extent to which the pandemic worsened the income situation of classical musicians in Austria is the subject of the second article by Tschmuck et al. In addition to the economic downfall of the majority of musicians, the different effects on the incomes of men and women are particularly striking, because the latter already earned less than their male colleagues before the pandemic and now had to cope with further severe income losses. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has also opened up new business opportunities, as Oliver & Lalchev point out in their article on new social media platforms and blockchain-based solutions for music distribution. Victoria Blessing Butete analyses in her contribution which strategies female musicians in Zimbawe have developed to cope with the pandemic. Despite all the difficulties, they have succeeded in strengthening their social capital by forming new social networks. In the fourth article, Blömeke et al. show the existential problems of live music venues in Germany, which have not only suffered from several lockdowns, but whose support structures have largely been lost. Similar is the situation of jazz festivals in the UK, which are examined more closely by Raine et al. in the sixth contribution. In the second part of the book, new trends in the music business beyond the Corona pandemic are examined. Bhagyalakshimi Daga analyses the informal innovation strategies of hip-hop artists in Mumbai’s largest slum. Ben Morgan analyses how Australian musicians try to understand the emergence of playlists on music streaming services and use them creatively for themselves. Morrow and Nordgård devote their contribution to the effects of the US Music Modernisation Act on the music industry, whose players certainly benefit from it in the USA, but not necessarily at the expense of the tech giants, as is often reported in the media. Carljohnson Anacin brings in another aspect by examining the DIY practices of independent songwriters in the Philippines, concluding that social media platforms open the way for them to enter the mainstream music industry. Shane Murphy and Margee Hume contribute a case study of Australian indie musicians in chapter 12, showing how they are able to use the digital music industry to their advantage. The final contribution by Morrow and Beckett examines the role of music charts in the streaming economy. They demonstrate that musicians as well as music business experts are no longer in a position to understand and correctly interpret how the charts come about in the streaming economy. (video stream)

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In the following panel discussion, reference was made to both the morning keynote and the book presentation. The moderator’s first question therefore went to Beate Flath, asking for an assessment of whether the COVID 19 pandemic has increased the relevance of virtual music worlds and whether the examples she showed in the presentation are sustainable. She pointed out that virtual and non-virtual music worlds have been newly linked by the pandemic and will thus continue to shape the music business in the future. This was also emphasised by the classical pianist and director of the artists’ agency Sonus Nobilis, Zarja Peters, who from her own experience used many virtual music offers during the pandemic and also conceived them herself. She also sees this as an opportunity for musicians to reach a new audience and to professionalise their self-marketing. The further discussion then turned how the pandemic had an impact on the various sectors of the music industry. Daniel Nordgård referred to the massive support from the public sector in many countries, which is now coming to an end and would make the structural problems of the industry visible. The long-term effects could not yet be assessed and many scientific studies would be needed to understand the impact of the pandemic. In any case, the music industry, and the live music sector in particular, has proven to be quite resilient to the measures brought about by the pandemic. From an Australian perspective, Guy Morrow added that different players in the music business have been more or less successful in lobbying for their concerns during the pandemic. The promoters, especially of the big festivals and venues, have benefited from government support, whereas artist management has received little help. That is why the effects can be judged very differently. The further discussion then turned to the effects that Facebook’s Metaverse could have on the music business and what role music rights play for these new applications, such as in video games. (video stream)

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4_SunOn the afternoon of October 20, the focus was on the question of the “Parallel Worlds of Music Streaming”. Hyojung Sun from the University of York delivered the first keynote entitled “Asset Economy in the Music Streaming Business”. Against the backdrop of the current multi-billion dollar buyouts of music catalogues by the established music majors, but also by new players such as the Hipgnosis Songs Fund or Primary Wave, Hyojung Sun explained how the shift to a streaming economy has turned music rights into an asset. Three processes are working together to transform the music industry into an “asset economy”: (1) Merger & acquisition activity, while always driving the music industry, has increased again in recent years. What is striking is that the current wave of M&A is driven by private equity capital and investors from outside the traditional music industry; (2) the majors have used the sales and profit gains of recent years primarily to acquire additional and, above all, economically very attractive music catalogues. In this way, they are further expanding their already existing market power and using the lower revenue shares of artists from music streaming to increase their profit shares; (3) new players such as the Hipgnosis Songs Fund consider the purchase of music rights as a capital investment that must pay off for investors. Music is thus seen as an investment and speculative asset that should yield corresponding returns on investment. In summary, Hyojung Sun stated that music is no longer seen as a commodity, but as an investment that must pay off. Profit-making thus becomes the ultimate goal of a speculation-driven music industry in which the actual value generators, the musicians, are marginalised in favour of already existing back catalogues, resulting in a lack of creativity and innovation. (video stream and presentation)

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IMG_8115In addition, David Hesmondhalgh from the University of Leeds analysed in his keynote how the algorithms of streaming services’ music recommendation systems foster social inequalities. Drawing on evidence from the House of Commons inquiry into “The Economics of Music Streaming” in 2020-21, Hesmondhalgh explored warnings from witnesses who accused algorithm-based music recommendation systems of reducing the potential for discovering new music, homogenising musical tastes and massively disadvantaging independent artists. They also criticised that the functioning of algorithms is not transparently comprehensible, which encourages manipulation and abuse. In a current project led by David Hesmondhalgh, it is investigated whether music recommendation systems reproduce or even reinforce already existing inequalities in the production and consumption of music. Using the example of the gender bias of a male-dominated music industry that has already existed for a long time, Hesmondhalgh highlighted that, as studies have shown, the listening habits of women and men are very different when it comes to streaming offers and only 30 percent of the music that women like men also want to listen to and vice versa. However, this does not mean that both sexes benefit to the same extent from music recommendations. A 2018 study by Liz Pelly shows that many of the most popular playlists on Spotify are “male-dominated” and Eriksson & Johansson confirm this observation that recommendation systems largely (80%) promote men’s musical tastes and only 15% those of women. In addition, research by computer scientists shows that algorithms of recommendation systems further reinforce the existing bias of music preferences between men and women. In summary, Hesmondhalgh concluded that music recommendation systems reinforce gender inequalities in music consumption, but that these can only be properly understood by taking into account the already long-term intersectional inequalities that shape the music industry. (video stream)

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This laid a good foundation for the subsequent panel discussion of the two keynote speakers with Vienna-based musician Yasmo and the founder of the label collective Analogsoul, Fabian Schütze, which was chaired by Hannes Tschürtz (ink music). To start off, Hannes Tschürtz asked whether the long-tail hypothesis, according to which a business model could be operated with niche repertoire, would find confirmation in the streaming economy, which was met with divided opinions on the panel. While the two academic representatives considered Chris Anderson’s thesis to be refuted by practice, label operator Fabian Schütze calculated that he and his artists could make a good living from the niche repertoire of his label. Musicians who previously had no income at all would now earn 1,000-2,000 euros a month thanks to streaming, which Hannes Tschütz, who also runs an indie label in Vienna could confirm. Yasmo also emphasised that music streaming can generate income for her, although it needs a fan base that first has to be built up via social media applications. However, the creative process of artists has changed in the streaming economy. There is a kind of self-censorship in the mind to come the point of a song as quickly as possible and instead of long intros in order to skip the 30-second threshold at which a stream can be monetised. The fact that fan attention spans have dropped is something Yasmo is concerned about, but she still finds herself adapting her own creative process to it. David Hesmodhalgh certainly agreed with the previous speakers that music streaming has opened up new economic opportunities, but gatekeeping by technology-driven companies has changed massively, as his analysis of music recommendation systems in the keynote showed. (video stream)

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Traditionally, the conference concluded with awarding the best paper in the Young Scholars’ Workshop to Farley J. Joseph from the University of the West Indies/Trinidad & Tobago for his contribution entitled “Sustaining innovation: Online concert models in a post-COVID-19 Trinidad & Tobago”. (video stream)

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