As in the traditional end/start of year fashion, seemingly everyone reflects on highs or lows of the previous year, or tries to predict how the upcoming year will look. I found an EXTREMELY intriguing article that covers the 10 people that changed or “shook up” the music industry during 2012. No Jay-Z. No Kanye West. No Lil’ Wayne. No Adele. Almost no widely known people on this list…and that’s the most intriguing part. Most of these names are people you probably never heard of. And that excites me! You don’t need to be the biggest artist in the world to make an impact in the music business. You don’t necessarily need to be a powerhouse manager or the head honcho of a major label. You need to be innovative. You need to take risks and try something new. You need to bet on yourself and go against the grain in some cases. Hearing this blows the door wide open for you to possibly make next years list. Hopefully I will be on it too…
Some of these names could be considered to have made a “disruptive” impact on the music industry. I think any way you see it, they are making some sort of an impact.
1. Jeff Price – Former CEO of Tunecore.
This guy has got a real nice set of cojones! He has gone head to head with some of the biggest names and companies in the music industry. He never backs down from a fight with the big boys. He represents the indie artist to the bone! Prior to getting ousted from the company he created (TuneCore, which is a digital distribution service), Jeff went head on with Amazon and Grooveshark. He called out the controversial Amazon songwriter payout structures, and Groveshark’s resistance to pay on mechanical royalties. He even publicly lamented Billboard magazine. WOW, those are all some big cats to go “toe-to-toe” with.
2. Daniel Ek – CEO of Spotify
The CEO of everyone’s favorite online streaming site has turned a small Swedish music company that was once completely unknown, into a multi-billion dollar revolution in the music industry. In 2012, Spotify reached 5 Million subscribers. 1 Million of which are in the US. He was able to build Spotify to a value of over $3 billion dollars. Just imagine what 2013 will be like??!!
3. Ellen Shipley – Songwriter
Ellen originally made a name for herself as part of an 1980’s hit songwriting team with Rick Nowels. Known for work with Belinda Carlisle and Kim Wilde, she was the Internet flag waver for artists receiving proper royalties for Internet plays. She challenged Pandora after she noticed she had over 3.1 million plays on their site, and she only received $39.00! I mean really??!! Who is doing the accounting there?? Ellen went online and publicly blasted them with her posts. This put the spotlight on Pandora’s execs Tom Conrad and Tim Westergreen who incidentally were receiving a tremendous amount in stock cashouts (tens of millions). This fight has since gone more public and has garnered the attention of some major songwriters who have also begun to challenge Pandora’s royalty payout system.
4. Brian Zisk – SF MusicTech Summit
There are tons of music conferences every quarter. Many over priced, and still giving advice on the ancient business models that include “how to attract major labels” or my favorite, “how to get the attention of major label A&R’s.” Brian, who has a background as an entrepreneur in digital media, web broadcasting, and distribution technologies, produces the SF MusicTech Summit. The SF MusicTech Summit is a smaller, more exciting music conference that focuses on the future of music business. According to the sfmusictech.com, the summit “brings together visionaries in the music/technology space, along with the best and brightest developers, entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, journalists, musicians and organizations who work with them at the convergence of culture and commerce. Zisk says, “we meet to discuss the evolving music/business/technology ecosystem in a proactive way, conducive to a dealmaking environment.” Past attendees are innovators in new media and social media platforms, as well as major label artists like Brandon Boyd of Incubus and Ben Folds, among many others. Every year this gets more and more packed. It points to the ongoing trend that the music industry is less major label/big business dominated, and more indie artist and new media oriented.
5. Daniel Glass – Glassnote Records
A straight indie label that defies the laws of the music business. His biggest artist is “Mumford & Sons.” If you haven’t heard of them you need to get out from under that rock! There are consistent rumors of a takeover or buyout from a major label. Not yet though. I am more concerned with who his next artist is. Because that last one literally has been carrying rock music on their backs!
I have to admit, I am not really into his record breaking, and worldwide smash hit song! But, I do love how he brought out my boy MC Hammer to perform with him with at the 40th American Music Awards. Gotta respect PSY for paying respect to someone who innovated the style and sound that has influenced his. And, it’s a darn catchy song with a dance that everyone including my little nephews know. If you have not heard of him or heard his song, I would not only wonder if you were actually alive, but also tell you to try to pay a bit more attention to pop culture and social media trends. PSY will probably never be able to reach the same mega successful status he has reached with his hit song Gangnam Style. But what I think is most memorable and unique about this situation is that he has forever altered the landscape of viral videos, and shattered the fact that you can only be an international star if you were from certain regions or cultures (I.E. US, UK, etc.). With social media and the Internet, music is literally global. PSY proves that. PSY also proves that you don’t need to be signed to a major label in the US to become an international star. You just need a catchy song, and some creative, smart, and unique marketing online…oh and one heck of a fanbase that will help spread your name all over the Internet helps too.
7. Axel Dauchez – CEO of Deezer
No, not Axel Foley from Beverly Hills Cop! Axel Dauchez, who is the head of a company that probably very few Americans have ever heard of. His company Deezer, which is not in the US currently, is a French web-based music streaming service that allows users to listen to music on various devices online or offline. It has over $3 Million subscribers and was one of the top companies to receive investments in 2012. Dauchez was able to secure over $130 Million in financing. That’s a nice chunk of money. He must have a pretty exciting company if he is able to generate that much in investments. Spotify, watch out!
8. Rich Bengloff – President of A2IM
I love the one line this article has on him. Digital Music News.com says, “he is getting millions from congress to fly Indie artist all over the world. Any questions?” The company he is president of, American Association of Independent music, is a “trade association” that represents independent artists and labels in the US. A2IM’s basic mission is to promote business opportunity, provide advocacy and representation, as well as networking opportunities for the independent music community. Rich was known for being vocal of his stance against the EMI/Universal merger that occurred late last year. Talk about giving majors a run for their money. The government is not only looking at the possibly monopolies that major label mergers might have, but they are actively giving funds to sources that are NOT major labels. A2IM received $284,000 of federal funding that is to be used to bolster indie labels and the independent music business sector. Side note, this is the 2nd time they have received funding. The first time Rich Bengloff was able to get a $200,000 grant. If anything paints the picture of the future of the music business, and the direction it is headed (i.e. toward indie labels and artists), this does!
9. Scott Borchetta – President & CEO of Big Machine Label Group
Originally a race car driver, then on staff at DreamWorks Records Nashville, Scott is most well known for discovering and launching the career of singer Taylor Swift and building the careers of Rascal Flatts and The Band Perry. Scott could be on the list for Taylor Swift alone, discovering and launching the career of one of the most successful artists of the last decade. Taylor Swift’s recent album “Red” broke numerous sales records. But Scott makes this list for his innovation in a few things like inking direct licensing deals with radio corporations, and breaking the long legacy of ridiculous radio royalty complications. He is also a major advocate of fans buying the whole album of an artist rather than singles. He challenged Spotify in 2012 by not releasing Swift’s new album “Red” during its release week. He strives to maximize his artist’s revenue through deals he struck like this that emphasize the sale of full albums. Scott Recently told Rolling Stone Magazine, “We’re not putting the brand-new releases on Spotify. Why shouldn’t we learn from the movie business? They have theatrical releases, cable releases. There are certain tiers. If we just throw out everything we have, we’re done.” I kind of like this guy! Imagine how many great songs you would never have heard of if you just bought the single that was being played on the radio, and not the full album.
10. Jimmy Iovine & Dr. Dre
Ok, I will say it again; get out from under that rock you live under if you don’t know BOTH of these names. Jimmy Iovine is a legend in the music business. He started his career as staff engineer at the famed Record Plant in New York. He went on to engineer Bruce Springsteen’s seminal “Born to Run” album, and produced everyone from Tom Petty to U2, and Stevie Nicks to Dire Straits. Jimmy is most known today as the Chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M. He is the man behind a tremendous amount of success in the music industry. Probably the most successful record executive in the music industry today, he is the guy that EVERYONE wants to get his or her music heard by. Dr. Dre, well I will say it in once sentence…EAZY/NWA, Snoop, Eminem, 50 Cent….Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre combined are more responsible for more hits in the last 40 years than pretty much anyone else. You can count on them for amazing “mainstream” music (Dre, where the F&@$ is Detox??), and also the revolution in personal audio playback monitors. Both were responsible for the success of “Beats by Dr. Dre” headphones. Now they are moving into the field of online streaming services. They bought MOG (a music subscription service very similar to Spotify, minus all the users), and recently decided to venture into the “online music subscription based” market. According to an article from last summer on Bloomberg Businessweek online, Iovine says, “Right now, subscription music online is culturally inadequate. It needs feel. It needs culture. What Apple has in the downloading world is very, very good. But subscription has an enormous hole in it, and it’s not satisfying right now.” Maybe in this process of achieving this Iovine will lean over and whisper in Dr. Dre’s ear to finish his magnum opus “final album” Detox.
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