Is Transparency the Music Industry’s Biggest Problem ?
And How to Go About Fixing It
What’s the music industry’s biggest problem today? It isn’t piracy. Illegal streaming- nope, not that. Death of the album? Not that either.
The greatest threat to the music industry today is the lack of transparency.
Bono, the artist turned music activist has been advocating on this topic for many years. Briefly stated, rather than fighting against streaming, artists should be fighting for transparency.
The music business has historically involved itself in quite considerable deceit. But if we change that a bit, and people can actually see how many times [songs are] being played, where they’re being played, get access to information on the people who are listening to them, get paid direct debit…. I think those payments will add up to something, as the world gets more transparent.
With time, the gravity of the transparency problem is becoming more apparent to people in the industry. While they’re beginning to understand the issues at hand, the loss goes well beyond the artist. Everyone loses out!
Casey Rae, the CEO of The Future of Music Coalition, argues:
Without transparency in music, artists, fans and services will lose.
It’s All About the Data
The only way to clean up this mess is via the data.
The catch — no one seems to have the proper access.
Artists rely on labels for their stats. Labels are too busy managing their data using the classic Excel method. Using this archaic method, consolidating data from multiple sources (digital and physical stores), means that the artist may be old news before a single report is generated.
All this means is that most labels limit their reporting to quarterly at best and often once every six months. The means to assemble, share and create reports on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis is just beyond them. Dashboards that report in real time? Forget about it!
Who gets hurt the most? Artists. The reports are outdated.
By time the information is received their next album has been released. The ‘greatest hits’ from previous album were most popular with which fans is now virtually useless. The process is extremely frustrating. And it’s bad for business.
No Data Means No Visibility
Not having real-time access to data handicaps the music business both on a financial level and on a fan level. Artists remain uncertain about what, why or how they’re paid.
The numerous cooks in the musicians pie breeds confusion and frustration when it comes to distribution of royalties.
Without rock solid data about who owns what slice, some people may not get paid on time or at all.
Putting the financials aside for a moment. Lack of data means that artists are limited on how deeply they can engage and connect with their fans.
Knowing which songs are popular, in which cities, can be extremely important for an artist to schedule a concert playlist for maximum turnout. Which merchandise sells the best is critical.
By knowing their fans, artists can better target their content and focus on building stronger relationships, growing loyalty, increasing engagement, and ultimately give a big boost to their music career.
But without any of that data…it’s like shooting in the dark.
The Battle for Transparency
It’s time for the music business to clean up house. Bringing transparency between labels and artists is fundamental in propelling the music industry forward.
Fortunately, the battle is already underway.
The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), the organization that represents the interests of the global independent music community, is in the process of fighting back against the lack of transparency in the industry. WIN is demanding that record labels leverage technology to share data and treat artists fairly.
As of July 2014, over 750 record labels signed WIN’s Fair Digital Deals Declaration, committing to a fair and transparent payment method to their artists. A critical first step towards recognizing and ensuring the rights of the artists as well as those of the record labels.
Alison Wenham, the Chairman of WIN, explains:
A healthy commercial relationship based on mutual trust and partnership between artists and labels is critical to the long term financial health of our industry.
Our Mission: Transparency
That’s why we’re continuing that fight. Our mission is to bring transparency to the industry, so that all players — from artists to managers to labels — have easy, quick and shareable access to data.
From our perspective, the best way to fix the transparency problem is to provide all of the players- labels and artists — the tools to collect, organize and make sense of the data. Bringing the metrics to the forefront of the business in ways that are easy to view, understand, and share.
So that’s what we did. Our platform allows artists to see their shares on-demand with the click of a button. The days of sending requests to managers, accountants and labels are long gone.
With increased visibility comes a sense of trust and a decrease in friction.
The dashboard view, brings to the forefront real insights about sales that can then be further analyzed for performance optimization.
Our platform levels the playing field by providing full transparency throughout the entire process of production, marketing and sales.
We’re paving the way for collaboration and trust. We’re bridging the gap towards informed decision making.
Most importantly, we’re providing the artists with the tools to make great music while remaining at ease that their business is running smoothly.