| 29 May 2020
As music matters, money also matters

Artist Aloud AVP & Product Head Soumini Sridhara Paul

Music Matters was getting into the 7th year of the conference and I wanted to be there  because here was a forum that had so much to offer not just in terms of networking but also an overall understanding of the global scene.

So, when I got the opportunity of representing India through Artist Aloud for the panel of ‘Indie In Asia’ that was to showcase the players that support independent music in their respective countries, I could not let it pass.

As a speaker, I was being invited to various workshops and one such workshop was with the WIPO; World Intellectual Property Organization - a committee formed by the UN. It was one of the most intellectually stimulating workshops that went on for more than 8 hrs. It spoke about the need for building a common database of metadata that is required for every song and its versions across the world, thus ensuring a global standard and a format that would keep a check of rightful owners of content and hence the right for revenues.

There was professor Han from Korea who showed the most mind boggling presentation showcasing the system that the Korean Music Industry has adopted to put this into place for their country. But the biggest question that was left unanswered was what should and will be the global standard for this database which was being termed as the IMR (International Music Registry). Korea was already in place with their own and the rest were building their databases more from a product perspective. So which would form the prototype? That's a question that the WIPO needs to find an answer for.

The second question which I posed and again did not get a definitive answer for was that once the IMR is in place, who takes the onus of ensuring that all the right owners would get their payment due across global exploitation. The point is, putting a system in place forms only the tip of the iceberg.

Ensuring it is implemented and followed is another ball game. Having said all that, I think it is commendable that the UN is planning on something in this lines because that itself is a step forward.

Moving on, the two days of Music Matters post the WIPO workshop was as entertaining, informative and interactive. Those who were present got to witness Troy Carter, Lady Gaga's manager talking about how you can do it right with an artist; Marty Friedman, the ex-lead guitarist of Mega Death who spoke extremely highly about J-Pop (Japanese Pop) and why it is the 2nd largest selling country in the world after the US by showing us some examples; the music in China and why it is a world of its own; players like YouTube, Baidu, Google,etc. who have shown successful models of monetizing content and of course the Head of Content from Spotify who very intelligently shielded some political questions presented by the interviewer about Spotify's model, UI and future plans.

The largest take away from the conference for me was to know that the generation of revenue in the music space is on a global decline and unless each of the players be it start up or majors do not get their act together and work with the times, music will continue to be put out but it will get tougher and tougher to monetize.

I do not have all the answers but I do know that we all have to work together to make it last. When we pay for everything else we use why should we not pay for music?