I was on my first in real ‘live in person’ conference last week, Mastering the Music Business (RO). The first one in almost 2 years.
I did some rookie mistakes like forgot to bring my business cards and my power bank for my phone. It was great though; I did more business than I have done in the past 1.5 years in just one day of the physical conference. It’s all true; you need to meet people face to face to make the more groundbreaking business and connections.
And I should know since the pandemic started, I have been on an online conference each once a week, sometimes two. I just calculated that I have attended around 84 of them. The problem is that nothing really happens. You get into business direct and just talk business, but no business is really done. I talked to a lot of people at the MMB conference, and they had the same opinion, well that could be biased since we were all so glad to be back again in the live environment.
The biggest problem with the digital delivery right now is also that you don’t have anything to offer. The world is at a standstill because of COVID and not really sure when it will start up again. We see a light at the end of the tunnel but still I imagine that we will be halted with rules during 2022 as well.
The digital part was though the best we could do during COVID. When it now opens up, it really will become an A-team and B-team. During this conference, I checked two other online conferences. One was with well-known keynote speakers and had around 70 people tuning into the panels. The other one had no panels online just showcases; the average viewer was just three people on each showcase.
These live videos are also quite tedious and hard work to do. We just did one for a digital conference I estimated that it took us a week of planning, same number of staff as a normal concert, rent of space, and camera team. All for just three viewers online that you don’t even know if they are real or someone just has their screen open. And in the end, you really can’t communicate with them.
One of the bands I’m working with right now got you can kind of say a record deal. Not out of any digital showcase rather through contacts and a great song. Still, this part of the industry just talks about streaming numbers and how to cheat. Here is the real digital thing. It’s just numbers and how to cheat to get those numbers when you don’t have a real fan base. The offer really just contains strange ways to get streaming numbers. I get that the company will make money out of that. But it won’t be a career that will be sustainable.
I guess it’s just the dream that you can have a really big music career sitting in front of your computer. Sorry, music is real feelings and built on relationships and networking. The digital is so far behind to deliver that live experience. It will be many years into the future before we are even close to having a career just sitting in front of a computer. Maybe never.
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. As well he recently worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes