June 6, 2016

Downtown x Midem 2016

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Over the weekend, the Downtown team took to Midem’s 50th annual conference, in Cannes, France, to speak about a number of issues and opportunities the music industry is currently facing.

CEO, Justin Kalifowitz, shared his viewpoint on copyright issues at the Copyright Summit: Copyright Developments in the USA - The Publisher’s Vision. The panel, also including Rob Guthrie, Head of Operations, Songs Music Publishing (USA); Ralph Peer II, Chairman & CEO, peermusic (USA); and moderated by Jeff Liebenson, President, IAEL (USA), covered topics like the Spotify’s recent class-action lawsuit, safe harbor’s impact on ad-supported streaming services, and the Department of Justice’s review of consent decrees.

Kalifowitz summarized his optimism for the future of the industry saying, “I'm hopeful that over time we’ll look back at this time and say, ‘Wow this was a complete disaster! Look at how far we’ve come.’”

Roberto Neri, MD of Downtown UK, participated in Music is Never Anonymous: The Importance of Getting Music Metadata Right in the Music Industry with Jean-Francois Bert, Founder & CEO, Transparency Rights Management (France); Andy Doe, Consultant, Dart Music (USA); Malcom Ouzeri, Head of Marketing, Qobuz (France); Christophe Waignier, Director of Strategy and Resources, SACEM (France); and moderated by Larry Miller, Director, Music Business Program, NYU Steinhardt (USA). Here, panelists discussed the the absence of comprehensive metadata and how this results in missed royalties.

Neri stated, “These digital platforms should be able to pay the rights owner. There’s too many middle men, there's too many lines of data, so many people are not being paid because of this madness.”

Joe Conyers III, VP Technology for Downtown and GM of Songtrust, spoke about the promising potential for the blockchain within the music industry. The panel, How Blockchain Can Change the Music Industry, also included Bruno Guez, Founder & CEO, Revelator (Israel); Vinay Gupta, Release Coordinator & General Strategist, Ethereum (Switzerland); Imogen Heap, Singer & Songwriter (UK); and was moderated by Allen Bargfrede, Executive Director of Rethink Music, Berklee College of Music (USA). The discussion focused on the creation of a comprehensive database using blockchain technology and how this could increase efficiencies for payment as well as data collection.

Conyers offered his insight stating, “We’re going to have much more real-time and truthful transactions… There are a lot of black boxes in the world of music, a lot of siloed databases that are in different states of disrepair… It’s going to grow the pie in ways we never thought of. We’re going to have a much bigger industry, and much cleaner data.”

Imogen Heap added, “We can see the music industry flourish, rather than feeling like it’s just grinding to a halt.”

This panel was covered in-depth by Music Ally.