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5 Takeaways From Music Matters 2023: AI, Glocalisation and More

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The AI genie is out of the bottle. It’s not going back, so buckle in and get on board.

Artificial intelligence was a hot button topic as music professionals gathered in Singapore last month for the All That Matters conference to learn, meet, greet and get business done.

Music Matters is one of seven streams under the All That Matters banner. Singapore, the dynamic, constantly-evolving city state, once again hosted the event, its music component recognized as the most important of its kind in Asia.

At 18 years of age, ATM is all grown up. This time, almost 2,000 attendees gathered from across the music, sports, gaming, media and entertainment industries, its conclusion the starting point for the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Guest speakers at the Sept. 11-13 confab included Jonathan Dworkin, Universal Music Group’s executive VP, digital business development & strategy; Troy Carter, CEO and founder Venice Music; Hazel Savage, VP music intelligence, SoundCloud; Meng Ru Kuok, CEO & co-founder of BandLab; Denis Ladegaillerie, founder & CEO of Believe; Spotify’s Kossy Ng (head of music, Asia) and Joe Hadley (global head of artists and audience partnerships); and Pieter van Rijn, president Downtown Music.

Billboard selected five notable takeaways from this year’s program:

Glocalisation is the way forward

Glocalisation is more than a buzzword. It’s a growing, measurable business as more local language music gains traction on DSPs. Building a business to support that doesn’t happen by accident. “At some point you have a certain ambition,” explained Pieter van Rijn, president Downtown Music, during a day one presentation. “It’s very important for us to be close to our clients,” noted the New York-based Dutchman, whose company has label services staff across the region, including South Korea, Philippines and Japan and elsewhere. Glocalisation is “to think local but act global, the success that we’re seeing there is a trend of local artist having local success and not just English language content driving the charts. You can see that in many countries, it’s another great symptom of how the industry has evolved itself.”

Luminate’s Music 360 research reinforces it, with data showing that 40% of U.S. listeners were found to tune-into music in a non-English language in the second quarter of 2023. At the same time, the share of English-language content is down.

Peter van Rijn photographed on October 19, 2022 at Downtown Music in New York City.

Moving forward with AI, and a plan

Believe this year celebrates its 10th anniversary in APAC, a business that started in Indonesia, was built from the ground up, and now represents over 10,000 labels and artist. Some €700 million has been generated in revenue to labels and artists in that decade. Believe is a big believer on Glocalisation, and its future includes the adoption of AI.

“It’s going to come very quickly,” explained Believe CEO Denis Ladegaillerie, during a day-three morning session which also included Sylvain Delange, Believe managing director for APAC. “We expect some products to come into the market very soon, in the next three to six months.” The response needs to be a responsible one. That includes Believe’s own set of principles, drawn up with YouTube, around the four pillars of consent, control, compensation and transparency. A new survey by Believe and TuneCore of 1,558 found that 50% of musicians are willing to make their music available for machine learning while also believing in a responsible approach.

Believe founder and CEO Denis Ladegaillerie

Streaming fraud is a $500 million problem. At least

For artists, cutting through the noise in the streaming world is a major challenge, and it’s not getting any easier. In the U.S., streams have grown 400% over the last four years, UMG’s Dworkin explained during his keynote presentation, while at the same time, on-platform new music discovery has fallen by 45% (with on-platform music discovery representing just 15% of how fans discover music). If you think that’s bad, streaming fraud takes the cake. Fraud, at the low end of estimations, is a $500 million problem.

“And it could be triple that,” he says. “Security should be a basic matter of hygiene for platforms and for distributors.” Music and artists that connect with consumers should be rewarded in the streaming game. “If a piece of content is riding along on a platform and not connecting with consumers, it will simply be downgraded,” he says, citing Deezer’s novel formulation. “We at Universal are ready for everyone to be held to the same standard. Including us. Let us all compete on the basis of the value created for fans. And not by counting streams as they sleep.“ It’s time to “change the model so the business can be more resilient for the next stage of growth.” He concludes, “there’s a lot more work to do, and the solutions are going to continue to evolve.”

Robbie Williams is coming to entertain you

Thanks to Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody, rockumentaries have been a box office boom in recent years. Robbie Williams sings when he’s winning, and he might be singing a lot in the near future with his very own projects.

Before Williams’ headline performance at the F1 Grand Prix, the Brit’s manager Stephen O’Reilly, managing director at ie: ventures and a director of ie: music, sat for a chat about Robbie’s busy schedule.

The former Take That star is the subject of a four-part documentary series, set to air from early November on Netflix.  Robbie Williams is a project of Ridley Scott Associates and director Joe Pearlman (Lewis Capaldi: How I’m Feeling Now) and executive produced by Asif Kapadia (Amy). Also, filming is completed on the previously-announced Better Man, which should arrive at cinemas next year.

The context was to “go out of our comfort zones to do things we’ve never done before,” say O’Reilly of Better Man, which has been described as a satirical musical based on the singer’s own life. It’s helmed by Australian filmmaker Michael Gracy whose debut film The Greatest Showman grossed more than $425 million worldwide. New Zealand’s Weta Digital is creating the visual effects for what O’Reilly describes as a “groundbreaking” film, which opens up a new “world of immersive entertainment, with great music and great story.” Robbie’s solo career is now 25 years deep, and has taken him to the very top of the tree in the U.K. (where he has 14 solo No. 1 albums), Europe and Australia. The U.S., however, has stubbornly resisted his cheeky-chappy charms. Will the new projects change that? Wait and see.

Robbie Williams performs at Hits Radio Live 2019 at Manchester Arena on Nov. 17, 2019 in Manchester, England. 

Russell Simmons talks Hip-Hop, Drugs and Donald Trump

Russell Simmons had the last word at All That Matters, with a free-flowing final session which covered all the topics you’d hoped for, and some you didn’t expect. The Def Jam co-founder regaled with tales on Will Smith, the 50-year history of hip-hop, the epicenter of art that was, and still is, New York City, Run-DMC, drugs and Donald Trump. Simmons and Trump used to hang in the 1990s and they traveled the world together. “I don’t dislike Donald,” he remarked. “We had a lot in common, a lot we didn’t have in common. We laughed about a lot of s—.” Becoming the POTUS, well that’s another thing. “When he became president,” he remarked, “it was obviously not a good thing for America.”

Earlier this year, the Singapore subsidiary of Nodwin acquired a 51% stake in Branded, bringing the confab and showcase event into the Nodwin Gaming family.

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