Music industry is moving towards an ‘attention economy’, says Sony exec

NY:LON Connect London

Dorothy Hui, Sony Music Entertainment UK’s vice president of digital, tells the music industry ‘we are moving towards an attention economy’.

Hui, whose experience spans partnership marketing, digital retail, direct-to-consumer and social media, said that artists and labels are competing for consumers’ limited attention spans as time is split between audio, visual and social media platforms.

Addressing delegates at the NY:LON Connect conference in London, she added: ‘The focus is on building audiences and engaging them. When you look at the potential of the [streaming] market, there’s the factor of how many people are subscribing but each person still only has 24 hours in the day.

‘It’s an attention economy now. How are we competing for those hours in the day? I read a stat that in the UK there are eight hours and 44 minutes of multi-task attention [per person per day] between audio, visual and social media. So how do you grab those minutes and seconds? How do we get music into other places?’

Also on the panel was Jonathan Dworkin, Universal Music Group’s senior vice president of digital strategy and business development. He agreed that the music industry must compete with audiovisual content for audience share.

‘The funny thing is the staggering amount of visual assets labels actually create and put out into the ether. They’re often not ever catalogued or available for reuse. They just float around out there,’ he said.

‘So there’s a huge opportunity for us to engage with the audiovisual world… At the end of the day, we’re all walking round with devices we’re staring at all day, so how can we not be in the media business?’

However, Simon Wheeler, Beggars’ director of digital, who was also on the panel, said the music business should be careful when operating in the audiovisual space.

He added: ‘A lot of services that are focusing more on audiovisual content are not seeing themselves as music services… They want to be media services.

‘[In the music industry] we’re all guilty of saying, “Ah yes, all this [audiovisual content we’re producing] is just promo”, and how we’re getting paid for that isn’t important.

‘It’s something we as an industry need to think more carefully about rather than just trying to get people listening to music.’

NY:LON Connect has been organised by Music Ally and the Music Business Association to bring together leading executives from the international music industry to discuss and debate key issues. The event will alternate between the UK and the US, and runs in London from 24 to 25 January 2017.