THE BPI, in association with Music Ally, is launching The Music & Tech Springboard Programme – a new initiative designed to bring the music community and tech start-ups closer together.
Consisting of a free eight-episode video series available on YouTube – here – alongside free BPI membership and a six-month free subscription to Music Ally, the programme aims to demystify the industry for anyone passionate about innovating in music – from existing start-ups and people within larger tech companies, through to new founders who believe they may have a great idea but aren’t quite sure where to start.
The video series acts as a learning resource for those interested in the world of music/tech start-ups, and features an impressive array of high-level executives drawn from record labels and distributors (Universal Music UK, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music UK, PIAS), PROs (PPL, PRS), accelerators/incubators (Abbey Road Red, Marathon Artists Labs), law firms (Reed Smith), advisors (Lewis Silkin/ Eleven Advisory, Becky Brook Consulting) and successful tech start-ups (Melody VR, Landmrk, JAAK, Click’n’Clear).
The Springboard membership offers start-ups access to all of the BPI’s resources – from market intelligence, to free training courses and access to networking events – for free until the end 2020, with a discounted rate offered from 2021. In order to qualify, companies must operate in the music and tech space and meet either an age (not older than five years) or size (no larger than 20 employees) criterion.
Both UK and overseas applications are welcome. For more details, click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, Music Ally is offering a six-month free subscription to its industry-leading business information service, including a daily news bulletin and regular in-depth reports. The same qualification criteria apply. To take advantage of the offer, all employees of qualifying start-ups should sign up at https://MusicAlly.lnk.to/StartupSignup
Born out of the need to make the music industry more accessible to talented people who at times feel unable to navigate its complexities, the series focuses on the expertise and personal experiences of the contributors, as they share their thoughts on how tech innovators can best approach and work with the music industry. The
videos also include plenty of practical advice on the do’s (and don’ts!) of these relationships.
This resource was put together before the COVID-19 outbreak, and both the BPI and Music Ally acknowledge there may be some areas that start-ups may feel have not been addressed. The BPI, therefore, welcomes any questions for contributors that aren’t covered in the video series, and a FAQ document to accompany the series will be published later in the year. Questions should be emailed to email@example.com.
Senior special projects manager, and the originator of the Music & Tech Springboard Programme for the BPI, Casandra Strauss, said: “We genuinely hope this initiative goes a long way in further democratising access to information and our industry. We are thrilled to be joined in our mission by Music Ally as our partner, as well as
the best and brightest names in our field, who have contributed their valuable time and expertise towards pushing the boundaries forward in this space and showing once again that the recorded music industry is at the forefront of innovation. We couldn’t be more grateful to them – and I’m sure we’re all excited to see the new
crop of start-ups joining our community.”
Paul Brindley, CEO and co-founder Music Ally, said: “So many start-ups face problems when dealing with the music industry because of a lack of knowledge or lack of experience in knowing how the industry works and how best to deal with the various parts of the business. This programme convened by the BPI provides invaluable insight from some of the most experienced and knowledgeable practitioners. We urge anyone who is seriously looking to engage with the music industry to look at this series of videos first to pick up some great tips to help them on their journey and to give them the best chance of success.”
Tom Nield, co-founder Landmrk, and contributor to the Music & Tech Springboard Programme video series, said: “It can be easy to overlook certain parts of an industry when carrying out your work, especially when you are starting out. The BPI’s Music & Tech Springboard Programme not only illustrates who the key stakeholders are and what they do, but gives crucial insight into what they actually want and need. I wish we had had this resource when we were starting out.”
Springboard Learning Programme – full list of videos and contributors
Introduction and overview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94G_8bZqLaM Geoff Taylor, chief executive, BPI & BRIT Awards Ltd, and Paul Brindley, CEO, Music Ally
Labels file:///C:/Users/Toby/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/Content.Outlook/CARZLB17/youtube.com/watch%3fv=_Alhb5aB5zY Adrian Pope, chief digital officer – (PIAS), Glenn Cooper – senior director of Business Development & Strategic Partnerships, Universal Music UK, Scott Cohen – chief innovation officer, Recorded Music, Warner Music UK, and Victoria Cruz – Global Business Development & Partnerships, Sony Music Entertainment
Legal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbmcPEnG3lk Gregor Pryor, partner and co-chair of the Entertainment and Media Industry Group, and Reed Smith and Sophie Goossens, partner, Reed Smith
Licensing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJRrBLCmDzQ Jez Bell, chief licensing officer, PPL, and Nick Edwards, head of Online, PRS for Music
Advisors https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfGG89EsZBM Becky Brook, founder, Becky Brook Consulting, and Cliff Fluet, partner, Lewis Silkin/ Eleven Advisory
Accelerators and incubators https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COiv7BsCDCQ Isabel Garvey, managing director, Abbey Road Studios/ Abbey Road Red, and Paul Rene Albertini, chair and founder, Marathon Artists
Media https://youtu.be/FpitVZgxN-s Stuart Dredge, editor-in-chief, Music Ally
Start-ups https://youtu.be/UeLvL0V_vkA Chantal Epp – founder, Click’n’Clear, Joanna McNally – SVP Licensing, Melody VR, Tom Nield – co-founder, Landmrk, Vaughn McKenzie-Landell – founder and CEO, JAAK
firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 7803 1326 / +44 (0)7801 194 139
email@example.com +44 (0)20 7803 1300
firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0) 7956 579 642
Notes for editors:
Summary of narrative and key points and quotes:
Introduction to Music & Tech Springboard
In this first video, BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor and Music Ally CEO Paul Brindley introduce the series, and offer some initial tips for start-ups on how best to approach and work with the music industry.
“Innovation isn’t just about the biggest tech companies. The teams at British labels, whether major or independent, are just as keen to forge creative partnerships with new music/tech start-ups,” says Taylor.
“They might be exploring cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence or augmented reality. They might be building marketing and business tools with new ways to track analytics or make payments. They might be integrating music into mobile games; testing new digital ways to learn to compose and play music; making tools to help A&R teams identify new talent; or helping fans to connect with artists in new ways.”
Brindley agrees. “If you have an original, innovative idea, I think you’re going to find a very willing audience for it in today’s music business. Still, you need to be prepared and informed if you want to stand a good chance of success,” he says. “Whether major or independent, music labels are keen to talk to any start-up who can
help them find new ways to deliver music, build audiences for their artists, and make their businesses as efficient as possible.”
Record labels explain what they want in a music/tech start-up
For the majors and larger independents, there are dedicated teams who focus on reaching out to start-ups (and fielding incoming interest) and figuring out how they might work together.
This video sees some of those people – Universal Music’s Glenn Cooper, Sony Music’s Victoria Cruz, PIAS’ Adrian Pope, and Warner Music’s Scott Cohen – explaining what they’re looking for, and how they think start-up/label relationships can work best.
“I think the primary thing is whether the start-up has a fresh idea that sticks, regardless of what they’re trying to serve – whether it’s marketing, A&R or some new blockchain based trading service – it’s whether it addresses a current need in the business,” says Cruz.
Cohen counsels against trying to do too much: “We’re not expecting them to solve every problem in the world and be this massive new thing that’s going to completely revolutionise how people listen, consume and pay for music. That’s not what we’re looking for,” he says.
“We’re looking for companies that can stay a half a step ahead or one step ahead and solve a single problem. They don’t have to solve everything… just tell me one thing you do and go really deep.”
Adds Pope: “I look at S curves, if you like and what products and technologies are evolving, where they are in that evolution scale and at what point they are evolved to the extent that it’s time to pour rocket fuel on them and everybody getting involved in them.
“I tend to plot technologies as they emerge in that sort of context. Does the technology work? Is there a product-market fit? And if so, is it now evolved to the extent that it’s time for everybody to embrace it and move forward?”
Legal issues: top music industry lawyers’ tips for start-ups
Even in the earliest days of a music-tech start-up, having a trusted lawyer is invaluable. Once a company progresses to the point where they are forging partnerships and/or licensing deals with music rightsholders, it’s essential.
Industry lawyers also have a very good understanding of what can make start-up/music partnerships positive and collaborative, or hit unforeseen roadblocks, from their experiences.
Reed Smith represents talent, artists and companies across the music industry, from Jay-Z, Rihanna and Mariah Carey to streaming services, labels and start-ups. In this video, partners Gregor Pryor and Sophie Goossens offer their advice for start-ups looking to work with the industry.
“Just read, educate yourself, learn about your industry, learn about the context, learn about your competition. And I find that this basic research is often completely overlooked,” says Goossens. “You’re building a business. You need to invest time in really understanding what you’re talking about and if you’ve done your homework, this will come across.”
Pryor also sees research as key: “You have to pick your investors and your business partners really carefully. If you have the wrong people working with you in your business, who don’t share your vision, your objective, your business goals, your strategy, it can come undone pretty quickly.
“So at every point you have the option of working with someone, particularly if they’re going to have a say in your business, be incredibly careful and rigorous about how you select them.”
Music licensing: the basics that start-ups need to know
If a music-tech start-up’s product or service involves making the actual music available, that company will need licences for the music. Understanding how licensing works is one of the first and most important things that these start-ups need to understand.
At its simplest level, that also means understanding whether you need to be talking to record labels, music publishers, collecting societies or all three. Thankfully, the collecting societies are a good first port of call for information on this.
This video picks the brains of executives from the two main collecting societies in the UK: Jez Bell, chief licensing officer at PPL, the society which looks after recorded music; and Nick Edwards, head of online at PRS for Music, which represents songwriters, composers and music publishers.
“One of the things that is very, very important, I think, for start-ups to think about in terms of their preparations for dealing with either the PPL or a recorded rightsholder directly, is to try to have the conversation as early as possible, so that you can understand what your licensing liability might be and what the various rules are around that,” says Bell.
“We’ve got a range of off-the shelf options and the simplest one is our limited online music license where license fees start at around £130 for a year – for a fixed amount of music,” adds Edwards. “But it’s usually enough to get small platforms up and running for a really modest fee – there’s limited approval, a very
straightforward license and simple administration around that licence.”
Sound advice: music/tech advisors offer pointers to start-ups
Technology and music may be two separate industries, but there are a number of people whose jobs revolve around bridging the gap between the two: helping start-ups to understand the strategies and priorities of rights holders, and helping rights-holders to grasp the needs of start-ups.
It’s not uncommon to find these advisors working with one or the other side when deals are being done and partnerships sketched out. Two of the prominent examples in the UK are Cliff Fluet, managing director of Eleven Advisory, and Becky Brook, founder of Becky Brook Consulting.
In this video, they offer their perspectives on how the relationship between start-ups and music companies can be as healthy as possible, including avoiding some of the well-known pitfalls.
“When dealing with the music industry, the businesses that worked have got a fundamental respect for the rights that they’re dealing with. And that comes down not only to understanding the legalities, but also understanding who the major players are,” says Fluet.
“And if you’re going to go into an industry, it’s best not to be aggressive or defensive, which a number of start-ups frankly have been.”
Adds Brook: “The really exciting start-ups are the ones that have truly unique ideas and are passionate; love music and are thinking about something that doesn’t look like everything else.”
Start me up: tips from music/tech incubators and accelerators
Start-up accelerators and incubators are a familiar part of the technology industry, working with emerging start-ups to help them built their products and services, and refine their pitches to investors and customers/users alike.
One of the positive trends in recent years has been the emergence of dedicated music-tech accelerators and incubators, backed by labels and other music companies, keen to support innovative new start-ups.
In the US, the well-regarded Techstars network has been running a music accelerator since 2017, but the UK has its own equivalents too: Abbey Road Red, launched in 2015
by London’s famous Abbey Road Studios, and Marathon Artists Labs, set up in 2016 by
independent label Marathon Artists.
In this video, Abbey Road managing director Isabel Garvey and Marathon Artists chair Paul-René Albertini explain how their programmes work; why they think it’s important for the music industry to have open arms to tech innovators; and offer some advice to start-ups wanting to work with the industry.
Albertini gives the same advice to start-ups that he gives to artists: “Do you want to change the world? You want to make your thing, your ideas and your gut, talk to the rest of the planet? Go for it, but get ready: it’s a long journey. Same as an artist!”
Media: tips on getting press coverage for your music/tech start-up
Like any industry, music has its own set of trade publications and websites that are pored over by executives and staff in the labels, publishers and collecting societies. Meanwhile, there’s also a thriving technology industry media covering start-ups of all kinds, music/tech included.
Getting featured by key media, from news stories and founder profiles to bigger features about the technology or trend that you’re working within, can be really useful in building your credibility with the music industry – or simply putting you on the radar of the innovation teams working within labels.
In this video, Stuart Dredge, editor at Music Ally – the BPI’s partner for these Springboard videos – gives a journalist’s perspective on what makes a start-up interesting.
“One of the things that pricks up my ears is the new. So are they using any technology in an interesting way, are they doing something new, or are they tackling an existing problem in a new way?” he says.
Does a start-up need a PR agency? A great agency or independent PR can be invaluable, but that doesn’t mean start-ups can’t also contact journalists directly.
“Never be scared to approach a journalist, never think – ‘Oh I should have a PR agency behind me or I should have a big story to tell. Some of the best stories we’ve written for Music Ally have been when I met someone at a conference. They weren’t ready to talk then, but they had a vision, they were doing something cool,
we talked to them months down the line, and we wrote a piece,” he says.
“Even if you haven’t got a press strategy yet, when you meet journalists, say hello! We don’t bite and actually we’re as enthusiastic as the industry is now to meet you and hear what you’re doing.”
Music start-ups on the lessons they learned working with the music industry
In this Springboard series of videos, we’ve heard from collecting societies, lawyers, advisors, accelerators and incubators, and labels about their advice for music/tech start-ups. But what about hearing from some start-ups themselves?
That’s what this video does. A group of British start-ups who’ve all signed licensing deals and/or worked on pilots with music industry rights-holders give us the key lessons they’ve learned along the way, for the benefit of younger companies about to embark on similar journeys.
“Work collaboratively, build ideas together, work on new solutions, talk to people that like your idea, but also talk to people that aren’t yet convinced. Listen to their arguments for and against and find different ways to work around those arguments to build different solutions,” says Jo McNally, SVP licensing and strategy
at virtual-reality music start-up MelodyVR.
Vaughn McKenzie-Landell, CEO of music-licensing infrastructure start-up Jaak, suggests that balancing fundraising and licensing is key for many start-ups. “I think that needs to be treated with almost equal fervour in terms of how you go after it, how much strategy you put behind it, the way you think about selling into those
labels, because they become a key supplier to make your whole business work,” he says.
“Be realistic. If you’re starting jumping out with millions and millions of dollars of revenue in the next year, that’s probably not so realistic,” advises Chantal Epp, CEO of ClicknClear, which helps teams in performance sports (like cheerleading and ice skating) to license music for their routines.
“So you do need to have an honest and open conversation with labels and publishers and just be really clear on what it is that you’re doing and how you’re going to target that market.”
Meanwhile, Tom Nield, co-founder of location-based marketing start-up Landmrk, thinks it’s crucial for start-ups to understand who’s who within music companies, and to target their efforts accordingly.
“You have to find the champions. You have to find those people who will work with you, who will take a slight risk for the benefit of doing something exciting. A lot of the times those people find us as well, or have found us,” he says.
As a reminder, the videos can be watched here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLikzEz7dpm0xvRikmAGz6gcNr3qMgH_D1.
About the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) – www.bpi.co.uk
The BPI champions the UK’s recorded music industry, safeguarding the rights of its members and of the artists, performers and label members of collecting body PPL.
The BPI’s membership consists of well over 400 independent labels and the UK’s three ‘majors’, which together account for 85 per cent of legitimate domestic music consumption and one in eight albums sold around the world.
The BPI promotes British music overseas through its trade missions and the Music Exports Growth Scheme. It provides insights, training and networking with its free masterclasses, Innovation Hub, Insight Sessions, WidsomWednesdays events, and reports. The BPI administers The BRIT Certified Awards, co-owns The Official Charts, organises The BRIT Awards and BRITs Week, and is also home to The Mercury Prize.
About Music Ally
Music Ally has been covering the music industry’s fast-moving digital developments since 2002. Known as a digital thought leader in the global music business, our clients span the music and technology sectors, including all of the major labels and indies, music publishers and collecting societies, music platforms like Spotify and Deezer, and tech giants like Google and Facebook. We are the leading subscription periodical on the new music business, enabling companies to understand the landscape and effectively operate through marketing, training, research and advisory services.
As a leader in industry training, Music Ally recently launched an online learning hub or the global music business at learn.musically.com. Music Ally also collaborates with global events and we produce our own conferences including NY:LON Connect with Music Biz and Sandbox Summit as well as networking events. Sandbox Summit Global
https://sandboxsummitglobal.com/ is a new free-to-access event which takes place in September 2020.
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