I recently had the chance to once again attend WOMEX — the World Music Expo, which took place in Cardiff this year, and which I’ve been attending regularly now practically since the conference’s beginnings (first known as the Berlin Independence days and held in what had only recently been called “East” Berlin)… As usual, I wanted to meet old friends, listen to great music and talk about and listen to how people were surviving — and they are — in these new “digital” days.
Of the top ten labels celebrated this year at WOMEX, we are working with at least half, including World Music Network, the award-winning label for 2013. Suggesting ways and means of helping these top labels make the most of developing trends is always part of our discussions, and as pioneers in this digital sphere, The Orchard is continually learning and testing new Marketing and Communications strategies.
One of these strategies which is coming to fruition and becoming scalable now despite having been available for quite some time is the creation of playlists for streaming stores. This is one of our development methods for labels who want to open up the channels of access to their music, and has since been extended beyond the original players — Spotify, Deezer, Rdio, Aspiro — with the recent launches of iTunes Radio and Google Play Music All Access. Here’s just one example of a playlist we’ve created:
I have already gone on record with how I think streaming positively affects music accessibility in parts of the world where legal, convenient, or even any kind of music consumption is not available, and we have even pulled some very interesting positive results from streaming in more “mature” markets. I continue to believe there is a lot of undiscovered potential with these services, and look forward to uncovering them.
All these discussions with our labels are ongoing, interesting and fruitful, especially so this year with the added presence of my colleagues Naomi Moran, General Manager of our European structure, and Nic Rizzi from our London office. Naomi worked for several years at World Circuit and has a great reputation in this “World,” and Nic was there representing a really cool group he is part of, Anna Phoebe, as well as showing off some of The Orchard’s most helpful tools, like real-time Analytics, Marketable Events, Social Media activity paired with sales data, and more. These advanced tools help our labels understand their business in deeper ways and help make sound decisions when it comes to promotional expenses, touring dates and places, marketing efforts, etc.
Live recordings = Lost recordings?
In addition to meeting with labels, we had a specific desire this year to reach out to WOMEX participants who focus more on concerts, festivals, touring, artist management, etc. The notion that so many live recordings were wasted — and these are recordings that are often of equivalent sound quality to studio recordings, and even more dynamic because of the presence of a live crowd — had come up in conversations we’d had with similar actors in the music sphere and we wanted to pursue the idea further. It turns out these recordings are often not contractually available for sale, either after the show for those who were in attendance or as downloads/streams for those unable to attend. I know there is a great number of concerts happening around the world by artists that I love and that I would be happy to be able to access and pay for.
Our discussions with the key players we met reinforced the feeling that these musical moments were currently lost, along with ways of re-engaging with a fan’s intense live experiences with their favorite artists and potential revenue for everyone involved: artists, labels and festival organizers. Yet again, we can and must think outside the box in this rapidly changing space and figure out the best way to develop our role as distributor — which is to make all music that can be monetized as available and accessible as possible all around the world.