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Singapore music matters crop

INTERNATIONAL INSPIRATION #3 – Music Matters Live Festival, Singapore

28 Aug



WAM’s CEO Mike Harris recently went on a quick overseas mission to lay the foundations for better championing WA music to international audiences. From these meetings and conferences, a heap of inspiration was gained as to how WA and Perth positions itself in a global music context, amongst other things. With frantically scribbled notes now deciphered, we present the third in a series of ideas Mike encountered during these experiences.




  • Music and comedy are increasingly consumed by digital means
  • Festivals are “going off” in India and are expected to increase significantly over the next three to five years.
  • In 2012 laws around IP and publishing changes/improved but are still not ideal and more improvement needs to be made in that area.
  • Content should ideally be relevant to Indians… which leads me to Bollywood…
  • Music represents a great opportunity with Bollywood. Producers/directors are seeking other styles/genres. Artists must invest time and $$
  • Bollywood uses around 1000 songs per year
  • The works needs to be good enough; make the right connections – those who can assist you in India; understand the market and what the potential is.
  • Bollywood mostly uses grand rights compositions and is 70% local (30% international). Recreating popular tracks is a potential into the market.
  • Emerging opportunities in advertising.


  • 4th most populated country in the world: a very big tech savvy audience who are technologically connected and chasing eclectic and diverse content.
  • Characterised by significant levels of illegal downloading / piracy.
  • Recent new laws protecting copyright and performance which has lead to collection opportunities.
  • Radio airplay is very competitive; need local support mechanism to make inroads.
  • Radio is around 60% local content and 40% other. Other includes K-pop, western as well as myriad other sources


  • Taiwan represents 2% of the population of China and 50% of the music economy. It is a leading nation for technological innovation
  • A lot of this is the festival market where there are festivals each month.
  • Whilst the majority of contemporary music played in Taiwan is in Mandarin, the younger population is always looking for digital content.
  • Taiwan sees itself as the filter of the Chinese ear: the gateway to China
  • It is important to make a high quality video
  • Facebook is the medium in Taiwan

Synch matters

John Bissell, Music Supervisor Mothlight Music: music used in media, video and interactive media

  • Amass folders of work so you have music at your disposal for when opportunity knocks. Have the rights of that music understood and cleared for all territories and with all co-writers.
  • Do research via sources (such as IMDb) to understand what music supervisors are working on. See what music may be appropriate. Send music….
  • Send music in a link that allows for both download and direct streaming.
  • Get the metadata right. Get the metadata right. Get the metadata right… Get it!!! (John has 74 “Track 3s” in his iPod – and thinking about that, I reckon I have a dozen or more!!!)
  • Don’t necessarily rush into arrangements with agents where you hand over fee$$ upfront and %age of publication deals. Try to negotiate a straight fee.
  • Research and understand who represents the style of music you are making they will have a greater chance of connecting to simpatico opportunities.
  • In the case of your return: if the fee isn’t great yet an ad is showing globally the royalties can be significant
  • If you are sending unsolicited e-mail get salient/important detail in the subject line.
  • Shazam/Soundhound etc. show success with spikes for the track if it sparks interest.

I’d like to teach the world to synch

This panel was a mix of the big brands (such as Disney & Getty) and more boutique operators (such as Mothlight & Big Synch) discussing their approach and in many ways replicated the above: for example get the metadata right which comes up again and again. (And yes, I received a CD of local music just the other day, which came up as unknown tracks 1-4 when I put it in my laptop!!)

There was no agreement as to the best way to get your music in front of those making synching decisions other than to understand the market or work with an agent who understands the market. Who’s producing what, when, how: what are the genres and styles previously exploited and likely to be in demand.

Getty thinks a good video is important; Disney think you need to understand whom they partner with; Mothlight recommend using library services (one large and one boutique); Big Synch like to meet with local rights holders and hear local acts; Times Music recommend you are relentless in your research.

Gwen Riley at Disney generously proffered her direct e-mail address and encouraged unsolicited emails: [email protected]

Getty ask that it be submitted to their platform

Merry Bright Music is also happy for direct submissions: [email protected]

Getty who weren’t even part of the panel, but managed to say a lot, also pointed out that corporate work was an opportunity: music to play under internal corporate pitches or external presentations.

Terry Ellis, Founder Chrysalis Records. Keynote

He was great, he just came out and spoke for 40 or so minutes. Not big-noting of a brand or even himself; he was just informative and very engaging. Years of experience from being a booker whilst at college, through to founding Chrysalis ensure that when Terry speaks we all ought to listen His influence is central to a few soso names of the era…, such as Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull and Blondie.

  • Changes in technology represent new opportunities; take them or perish (e.g. Fuji v Kodak… whoops)
  • The music industry has moved back to the early sixties, when he started out, where all the revenue comes about from live performance; an era when record (especially LPs) were minimal. This gives artists greater control of their careers than when record companies had the power/control.
  • Too many artists are just waiting for the big break to become rich and famous, not working for the joy and earning success. Working of your craft = better performance = better success = rich and famou$.
  • If you have no time to run your business properly you need a manager. A good manager makes a difference between success and failure. A manager will give you time and space to develop your creativity and grow as an artist.
  • Record companies no longer run the market. Make your own CD and hire a PR agency to do the promotions. The internet means there are no barriers to entering the industry.

Hitting the Road: How to Tour China…

There is a fair bit of a focus on China at Music Matters, and fair enough as it is the market with the biggest potential. A tiny niche in China represents more consumers than the entire Australian market, tenfold. That said there is a sense that this should be called How to Exploit China rather than touring. (I think I said that after last year.)

After Music Matters I went to Beijing for a couple of days and met up with a number of promoters, labels, festivals etc. Mostly expats but some local operators as well. This was to get a sense of whether opportunity existed over there. The answer is yes and more work needs to be done to set up relationships and exchange opportunities. Paying to consume is somewhat alien in China, but improving. Everywhere I went to in Beijing there were young middle class kids with (mostly) Huawei phones attached to their ears and there are streaming deals ensuring music is being channelled via those handpieces.

Interesting to note that there was not a single Chinese person on the How to Tour China panel… That aside it was a good panel: particularly Archie Hamilton and Ed Peto the small to medium sized operators.

  • Big name shows (e.g. Katy Perry) sell out in minutes; interestingly still mostly cash transactions and not delivering much sophisticated or useful data
  • Interestingly…, labels used to send excess albums for pulping to cities such as Guangzhou (bands like Sonic Youth/Pixies/Cocteau Twins) but they were distributed instead. This has lead to interesting micro markets (but not that micro in terms of size).
  • Festivals represent the best opportunity for access for indie or small-medium artists.. There are hundreds of these albeit most of them are exclusively local and have a constant risk of government closure. It is expected that western acts will grow from 1% to 10% over the next few years.
  • Don’t expect western conditions such as riders or even back stage facilities.
  • Work on a local interweb social media presence before heading into China.


Transparency in Music Streaming

  • That there is a low return per stream is a reality (their words not mine): consumers will not pay more. Reach is significantly greater but per unit payment is less.
  • As things used to be an artist sold an album on day 1 of release, got a %age, and nothing more. Now the challenge is to have that purchaser come back again and again and pay each time.
  • Streaming has resulted in unprecedented amounts of data the vast majority of which isn’t really useful for the artist or label.
  • Pay per stream and the per stream rate needs re-structuring. It isn’t right that a 20 minute Rachmaninov track received the same as a 2 minute pop song. Funny no one on the panel pushed that the rate needs to be higher (my words).
  • Streaming services are in fact taking a punter who may spend $1000 a year on physical music into a $120 a year customer. A challenge is to find a way to increase the $9.99 a month model with add-ons or the like in order to increase returns.
  • It was asked of the panel; what are those costs that makes the cost of streaming so high and thus keeping the returns to artists too low? This was not answered…

Streaming Service Update for Asia

  • Need to deliver what the consumer wants, how they want it, when they want it…. well, yeah, go figure. But sometimes you need to hear the bleeding obvious.
  • Understand the market: what switches activate the market best.
  • Asia is a group of countries with great diversity; not so much a region like North America or Europe. What works in Japan probably doesn’t work in Indonesia.
  • Asian punters are 10x more likely to purchase either side of a live performance. Think about your strategy to exploit this, for e.g. stream live for each performance
  • An observation made was that the audio quality of tracks is going backwards but as more music is played through TVs and home stereo systems (as opposed to hand held devices) it will need to get better.

In Conversation With Charles Caldas, Merlin

  • Merlin sees itself as the Chuck D of streaming services: “Fighting the Powers That Be.”
  • Got to transition the consumer from low value (end user stays free) to high value (end user pays).
  • The Industry needs to better explain how streaming works… Yep! (See question about costs above under Transparency.)
  • A case study – The Arctic Monkeys had refused to release their music for streaming. They have in recent timers opened it up to all services and are seeing a strong resurgence in live and music sales.
  • Internationally strong new streaming markets include Mexico, Brazil and the Philippines.
  • The challenge is to maintain growth. The major labels still try to control the industry and set ground rules in a world where their dominance is no longer relevant. It wasn’t directly stated that they are holding back streaming growth, but the link was floated out there.



Government of Western Australia Department of Culture and The Arts Australian Government

WAM is supported by the State Government through the Department of Culture and the Arts, and is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.