Music companies on how tech is changing the industry for the better

Music companies on how tech is changing the industry for the better

PRS For Music CEO Andrea C Martin has told Music Week that the Covid-19 pandemic has "acclerated the shift towards a more digital world".

Martin (pictured) was speaking as part of a special report in this week's magazine, which investigates hi-tech advances - from remote working to livestreaming - that have helped change the music industry for the better.

PRS' August AGM was held virtually and set a record for the highest participation in its history, with more than 1,000 songwriter, composer and music publisher members engaged either on the day or through the voting process.

“Coronavirus has without doubt accelerated the shift towards a more digital world and we were perfectly placed to capitalise on that shift in the interest of our members,” said Martin. “We were able to seamlessly transition to remote working. The morning following the first lockdown announcement, all of our teams were up and running remotely without any disruption to our core services."

It has been interesting to see the efficiencies and benefits that working virtually can bring

Peter Leathem, PPL

PPL chief Peter Leathem, meanwhile, has identified a few positives in the new normal.

“Whilst human interaction can not and should not be replaced by digital means, it has been interesting to see the efficiencies and benefits that working virtually can bring,” he said. “By embracing technology for virtual meetings, member events and outreach, and employee engagement, we have increased our collaboration further, making us more connected than ever before – especially to our global partners around the world.”

A similar impact has been felt at leading music accountancy firm CC Young, whose head of IT Dominic Bolger said: "I feel the rate of change, and adoption to change in working practice has increased dramatically – all from the comfort of our own home.

"As an industry that has always been about face-to-face, or a physical presence such as a live gig, I think that behaviour has changed towards both the use and acceptance of technology. The rate of change within our own business has been phenomenal.”

One of the few beneficiaries of the global touring shutdown has been livestreaming, which has witnessed an explosion in interest.

Patrick Zucchetta, MD of Emotional Artificial Intelligence start-up Musimap, said: “Music fans have embraced this opportunity to support their favourite artists and enjoy unique and intimate performances from the comforts of their own home. The other huge advantage of this is that any artist can do this no matter the size of their fanbase or their income. 

“There are some uncertainties as to whether they will continue on a grand scale post-Covid, but I certainly see this as being a strong possibility.”

Ben Rees, founder of Bristol-based music app Cosound, said he was impressed at the speed with which the business had adapted to new technologies.

“Whilst the pandemic has certainly hit us hard, and potentially caused some long lasting damage for certain sectors, I’ve been encouraged by some of the ways in which technology is being used to deliver new experiences to fans,” he said “I’m seeing some really exciting developments with virtual entertainment experiences, with artists being transformed into digital avatars and creating interactive live performances. TikTok hosted The Weekend Experience, an interactive XR broadcast which reached around 300,000 concurrent viewers at its peak.

“Events like these are indicative of the direction that the industry will move in over the next decade. A lot of this technology would have once been considered a bit of a gimmick, but the pandemic has pushed us to accept these technologies as a really viable option for the future of live music."

Subscribers can read the full special report here

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