Music industry will miss big tech breaks if it can’t work collaboratively, says expert

tech summit 2018

‘There is amazing technology at our fingertips, but we’ll miss these opportunities if we can’t work collaboratively as an industry to take advantage of them,’ PRS for Music’s Paul Dilorito has said.

The director of innovation and partnerships was addressing an audience at the Music Week Tech Summit yesterday (Wednesday), who had gathered at the o2, London, for the panel Start-ups will disrupt the industry. Again. Are you ready for it?

Discussing the relationship between the music business and tech start-ups, he added: ‘[Collaboration] has been one of the industry’s biggest challenges to date. It’s not actually about tech, it’s more about behaviour and hierarchy and control – and the competitive nature of the music industry.

‘Some people see data as something they should trade, where others see it as something we should share. We’re not all on the same page yet, and we might miss some golden opportunities – a bit like when we weren’t ready for the digital explosion as an industry either.

‘It’s taken us a long time to catch up and I’m hoping that we’ll get our act together as an industry a little bit quicker this time to take advantage of it.’

Elsewhere, Dilorito explained the tech start-ups PRS for Music is most interested in working with. ‘From my perspective, there are tech companies who come into the market because they see a problem they can exploit for profit. And there are tech companies coming in with opportunities to grow the music industry. I’m more interested in the latter,’ he said.

‘Representing our members as we do, I’m interested in increasing the consumption of their music, whether that’s on TV, radio or a digital space. So those tech companies are the most exciting to me.

‘Coming from a not-for-profit… we’re constantly looking at how to do things faster, cheaper and more efficiently, and there are a lot of start-ups with great ideas, but they haven’t thought through their financial business model yet. How are you going to pay for this, because no publisher or creator I speak to wants to pay more – everyone wants to pay less.’

Also on the panel were Seth Jackson (Landmrk, Strange Thoughts), Isabel Garvey (Abbey Road Studios) and Claire Mas (Island Records). Together, they explored what the music industry needs to understand about working with start-ups, and who will lead the disruption in the next five years.

Garvey said: ‘From a start-up perspective, I think they need to be a little patient with the industry. Licensing takes time, even if you have a model that everyone wants to engage with. But this doesn’t always tally with the start-ups’ investment cycles.

‘On the flip side, from an industry perspective, we’ve all accepted that disruption is the new norm and we’re an industry much more open to innovation.

‘We have to be patient and give these businesses room to develop and coach them, so when they do come up with a product and have some finance behind them, they’re actually engaging in the best possible way with the music business.’

Mas agreed, adding: ‘The music industry is very complex and there are a lot of technicalities. The main issue is there is a lot of copyright involved and a lot of people involved, and you have to make sure you respect all of those people and pay them all correctly.

‘There are a lot of people coming in saying, “I’m a tech company, I can fix it all!” There is a lot of research and legal work you need to do before you pitch your ideas. But at the same time, for us in the music industry, we need to be open to it.’