CMU’s Chris Cooke provides the background to each of this year’s full-day CMU+TGE conferences.

Music Education Conference In Context

Last year we presented our first Music Education Conference as part of The Great Escape, the aim being to bring together the music education sector and the music industry to discuss how music educators and music employers could be more closely aligned.

The 2018 event provided a beginner’s guide to music education in the morning and then explored music career options in the afternoon. With a really interesting mix of people – both on stage and in the audience – the conference instigated some great debate and posed a number of important questions. As we put the spotlight back on music education this year, the aim is to come up with some answers.

We also launched a music education focused CMU Insights research project at last year’s event. It felt like there were many different strands to music education which weren’t always linked and therefore navigating everything that is on offer can be very tricky. Meanwhile, we all know that there a plethora of different music career paths – whether people seek to make a living on or off the stage – and we were interested to know how those different education strands intersected with those different career routes.

Since last May, artist manager Phil Nelson and I have been seeking to properly map both music education and music careers via a project that we now call Pathways Into Music. This is a major multi-year venture. In year one we have been putting together a template music education map for the whole of the UK and then applying that template to two key regions, Northern Ireland and the South East. We have also been piloting ways to map different music career routes, assessing the role education plays along the way.

At this year’s CMU+TGE Music Education conference we’ll be reporting back on our work so far. We’ll explain the crucial role we think music education plays in the success of the music business and then present our music education map, including some top line stats from our focus regions. The aim is to then continue this work in the year ahead, in Northern Ireland, the South East and beyond, and we’ll explain how educators and the industry can help.

Of course, we are not the only people who have been researching the state of music education. Since last May really interesting studies have been published by organisations like the Musicians’ Union, the Incorporated Society Of Musicians, Youth Music, the BPI and the Music Commission. Once we have presented the results so far of our own Pathways Into Music research next week, we’ll also speak to representatives of each of those organisations, to identify the key findings and recommendations of their respective reports.

Beyond all the research, we’ll also been staging plenty of debates during our Music Education Conference, in particular asking what the aim of music education should be and what that might mean for the music curriculum, whether that’s a national curriculum, a model curriculum, or music GCSE, A-Level and diploma courses. We’ll also put the spotlight back on the regional music hubs and look at various educational projects outside the classroom, asking how music employers can support all that work.

And then, at the end of the day, an all-important artist perspective. I’ll be chatting to Chilly Gonzales about his take on how music is taught, in school and beyond. We’ll find out more about his ground-breaking Gonzervatory programme, and we’ll look at how making music education more effective and more compelling is partly about building bridges between different musical genres and disciplines.

The CMU+TGE Music Education Conference kicks off the entire Great Escape, taking place on Wednesday 8 May at Jury’s Inn Waterfront from 10am.

Digital Dollars Conference In Context

CMU Insights has been working with the Music Managers Forum on the ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ project for nearly five years now. For the first time at TGE this year we will present a full-day conference showcasing all of this work to date, backed up by insights, practical advice and expert viewpoints from across the industry.

The ‘Digital Dollar’ project began because – as the streaming revenue stream started to really build five years ago – artists, songwriters and their managers started to realise just how complex this new side of the recorded music business actually was. In the late 2000s the record companies, music distributors, music publishers and collecting societies had developed innovative new licensing models for the early streaming music start-ups, but hadn’t done a very good job of communicating all that to the wider music community.

The streaming business is complex for various reasons. Partly the result of copyright law. Partly the result of music copyright ownership conventions. Partly the result of record contracts and publishing contracts. Partly the result of collective licensing rules. And partly because a consumption-based business model is fundamentally different to a sales-based one. But for artists, songwriters and managers to have a role in further evolving the sector, it’s important everyone understands the basics.

Which is why MMF has invested in producing the various ‘Digital Dollar’ reports. The first explained how the model works. The second debated all the issues with that model. Then came the guides outlining how record deals have evolved with the shift to digital, what managers mean when they demand more transparency, and what artists and their teams should be doing with all the data that now flows in every day. And next week MMF will publish the very latest ‘Digital Dollar’ guide putting the spotlight on song royalties.

The CMU+TGE Digital Dollars Conference will present all this knowledge in a super digestible form. I will explain how the deals work and how the money flows, on both the recordings and songs side of the business. In the latter domain, we’ll look at what labels and distributors have to do every month to make sure everyone gets paid, and also at how the world of music distribution has evolved, as distributors – and streaming services – diversify.

Then we’ll talk song royalties and the latest ‘Digital Dollar’ guide. The way songwriters get paid their streaming money is particularly complex. Which can sometimes mean that songwriters don’t get paid any streaming money at. We’ll explain why it’s so complicated and identify ways that songwriters – and their managers and accountants – can address the issues that routinely stop money flowing through the system.

Then, in the afternoon, we’ll look at how recent changes to copyright law might impact on the digital market, we’ll explain what the debate around user-centric royalty distribution is all about, and we’ll review why the lack of a central music rights database is a major problem as the streaming sector continues to boom. That latter issue was something we discussed at TGE a few years back. And this time we’ll check back in on some of the projects – both collecting society and start-up led – that have been trying to fix the problem.

The CMU+TGE Digital Dollars Conference will also be speaking to innovators in the market – on both the recordings and songs side – who are addressing some of the issues we will raise, and who are seeking to offer artists and songwriters more options in the way they manage and monetise their rights in the digital age. One of the big innovators is music rights firm Downtown, which also owns Songtrust and recently acquired CD Baby. And, rounding off the Digital Dollars day, we’ll be talking to its founder and CEO Justin Kalifowitz.

The CMU+TGE Digital Dollars Conference takes place on Thursday 9 May at Jury’s Inn Waterfront from 10am.

Music Marketing Conference In Context

We last put the spotlight on music marketing at TGE in 2015. Last year I re-read our reports on the conversations that took place back then and realised just how much has moved on in the last few years. Pitching to streaming service playlist owners was the big new thing back then, and now it’s a core element of pretty much every album marketing campaign. Which got me thinking, given what was the future then is now very much the present, what next?

Also, the Music Marketing Conference is sponsored by the BPI. CMU Insights runs two marketing seminars as part of the BPI’s member training programme, one focused on frontline marketing and the other on catalogue campaigns. Those sessions also look at how things have been changing in the world of music marketing in recent years. And while that is partly about the rise of playlist pitching, it’s also about the ever-expanding marketing toolkit and the challenges raised by the fact album campaigns now need to run for longer.

It’s with all these things in mind that we decided to stage another full day Music Marketing Conference at TGE this year. The first half is looking at that music marketing toolkit. We’ll discuss how traditional tools – like the music press, radio and TV – still play a role. We’ll look at where social media now fits in. And we’ll talk about social advertising, outdoor advertising and that thing they call influencer marketing.

We’ll check back in on playlists, with plenty of practical tips on how to target and utilise streaming service playlists, but also plenty of discussion on where the whole playlisting thing might go next. Then we’ll focus on how modern music campaigns eat promotional content and how you can deal with that when you are operating on tight budgets. And finally we’ll look at how you should be using all that data – streaming data, social data, ticketing data – to inform how artists market their recordings, shows and brands.

In the second half of the day we’ll get more strategic. In the streaming age, music marketing isn’t just about scoring as many sales as you can in the weeks after release. It’s about encouraging fans to keep streaming tracks again and again and again so that the tiny per-play royalties mount up. This changes the messaging of the marketing and increases the length of time that marketing activity needs to keep happening.

CMU has been analysing these changes and challenges for a while now and we’ll report back on what we’ve discovered and discuss how those challenges can be met with leading music marketers. Part of meeting that challenge is about ensuring that all of an artist’s business partners – including label, manager, agent, promoter and any marketing or PR agencies – all work very much in tandem. To that end, we’ll be bringing together reps from each of those different strands of the industry to discuss how that can be achieved.

So, plenty of great insights and debate will occur on sage. And then, at the finale of the day, I’ll be sitting down with the brilliant Cassandra Gracey who heads up Sony Music’s 4th Floor Creative division. We’ll find out why the major set up this new unit to bring together its content, partnership and analytics work, and we’ll get her take on how music marketing is evolving, and what artists, labels and all the strands of the industry need to do to succeed.

The CMU+TGE Music Marketing Conference takes place on Friday 10 May at Jury’s Inn Waterfront from 10am.

The TGE Conference runs from Wednesday 8 to Saturday 11 May 2019 and is open to all TGE delegates. Get your TGE delegate pass here.

CLICK HERE for a full guide to the CMU+TGE conferences

CLICK HERE to return to the TGE Conference home page