Billboard.Biz Readers' Survey Results, Part 1: Most Important Event of 2012
As part of our year-end special, we asked you, the audience three specific questions about 2012 - and we got dozens of thoughtful, intelligent, well-considered responses. Rather than dropping all of that knowledge in one big pile, we're publishing one group of responses -- the answers to one question -- per day for the next three days. HUGE thanks to everyone who took the time to respond -- from the president of RCA to a DJ we hadn't heard of -- and you can see all of our year-end coverage right here. Happy holidays!
Readers' Survey Results, Part II: The Most Important Artists of 2012
Readers' Survey Results, Part III: The Biggest Issues Facing the Music Business
QUESTION: What do you think was the most important, influential or impactful event to happen in the music business in 2012 and why?
Dave Haynes, VP Business Development, SoundCloud
It's tempting to say that Universal's takeover of EMI was the most impactful event in 2012. But I'd argue that maybe PSY's "Gangnam Style" takeover of global popular culture was actually more significant. Along with the likes of Carly Rae Jepsen and Gotye, Psy represents a totally new phenomenon in the music business, one that embraces people's desire to create, parody, remix, copy and participate, rather than seeing that as a threat. The results are cultural memes that simply couldn't have existed before platforms like Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube and SoundCloud existed. In 2013, will manufacturing a meme be synonymous with manufacturing a hit?
Andy Cohn, Publisher, The Fader
Eight nights of Jay-Z to open [Brooklyn's new] Barclay's Center, essentially stamping hip-hop as a completely mainstreamed genre of music.
Michael Schneider, Artist Relations, BandPage
Crowdfunding! Examples like Five Iron Frenzy and Amanda Palmer show that artists can use the support of their fans and communities to create art and release music.
Chris Castle, Managing Partner, Christian L. Castle Attorneys
The nod actually goes to the 125 artists who signed the artists' letter opposing the so-called "Internet Radio Fairness Act." This letter and the ensuing credibility issues it created for Pandora demonstrated how effective artists can be when they unite.
Tom Corson, President and COO, RCA Records
The new R&B: Miguel, Usher, Frank Ocean, Elle Varner. Pop radio and the world had better make a place for these game-changing artists. Also, 2012 saw the rise and growth of RCA artist A$AP Rocky, who will be kicking off the year with a much-anticipated January debut album.
Jim Donio, President, NARM/digitalmusic.org
I think without question the event that fulfills all three "I's" was the completion of the acquisition of EMI by Universal. It clearly has a wide range of implications, not just for the new consolidated company's artists, labels and employees, but certainly for its competitors and commerce partners in that the dynamics of the business will have to shift. And of course it will affect music fans worldwide.
Marcie Allen, President, MAC Presents
The explosive growth of electronic dance music had a powerful impact on the music business in 2012. Starting off the year with the first-ever electronic performance at the Grammys, Deadmau5 and David Guetta took the stage with Chris Brown, Foo Fighters and Lil Wayne; Skrillex also took home three awards out of his impressive five nominations. Throughout 2012, EDM vastly expanded its reach through collaborations with other music genres, brand partnerships, music festivals, and a huge boost through social media.
Robb McDaniels, InGrooves/Fontana
Clear Channel's decision to pay sound recording performance royalties directly to Big Machine strikes me as the pivotal event of 2012, and potentially impactful for years to come. This progressive deal changed the tone of discussions in Washington around the potential revisions to performance rights royalties paid to owners of sound recordings and copyrights.
Larry Miller, Executive Vice President/General Manager, MediaNet
Obviously the streaming services like Spotify, Deezer, and MOG were a vital part of the music industry storyline in 2012 and will continue to be in the new year. But more specifically, I kept a close eye on the windowing strategies of a lot of artists -- The Black Keys, Adele, and Coldplay, to name a few -- and their effect on their sales and the market as a whole.
Tom Windish, President, The Windish Agency
Coachella become two weekends. Festival culture has arrived and is here to stay in the USA!
Ian Rogers, CEO, Topspin
It feels like we've moved forward on a number of fronts, but overall I'd point to the success of what I'd call fan-driven music in 2013 -- from Odd Future to Mumford to Lumineers to Civil Wars to Fun. I see a movement of artists who are led by passionate fans more than they're pushed by big promo dollars and mainstream radio. When I asked the Secretly Canadian folks what they did to make that Bon Iver record successful, they humbly said, "Nothing. That record would have succeeded anywhere." Obviously a ton of work goes into those artists and records but I'd argue in the end they succeed because people love them. They are unstoppable.
Brian Polk, DJ
The "Gangnam Style" Psy video going viral, showing how social media can have immediate impact on the Billboard charts, regardless of location or language.
Kenneth Rhodes, Director of Purchasing, Ingram Entertainment Inc.
Spotify and "The Cloud." Spotify reached a significant U.S. paid subscriber milestone in 2012, and showed that subscription streaming - at a high bit-rate, on multiple desktop and mobile platforms - could finally work. With an effective and intuitive piece of home-base software, Spotify creates a simple and addictive on-demand audio experience. And though Apple's iTunes version is absolutely outstripped by Google's Play and Amazon's Cloud Player versions in simplicity and functionality, the Cloud is the other key story of 2012. The ability to access the majority of one's personal library on any kind of device - anywhere, anytime connectivity is available - is all any music lover has wanted since the birth of the 45 rpm-er. Though both of these breakthroughs swing giant scythes at physical media - my corporate bread and butter - they are massive boons to the survival of the overall music industry.
Helen Smith, Executive Chair, Impala
Without a doubt the sale of EMI. Universal had to accept the biggest remedies in any merger case, but it will still totally change the balance in music and the same applies to publishing. One commentator summed it up nicely by noting that three companies now control the market and adding: if you want to get on radio, just give one of them a call…
Vickie Nauman, President, 7digital North America
I don't believe there was a single influential event, but we see positive signs as many different legal music models are getting greater traction, and better music products are being offered in the marketplace. Radio-style streaming is on a growth trajectory as a simple, low barrier, lean-back music experience. Downloads continue to grow as more and more people have convenient options on all devices. Subscription streaming is growing dramatically. We are in the early stages of this digital revolution, and are only beginning to see the results in the marketplace.
Alison Smith, Senior Vice President/Performing Rights, BMI
The London Olympics - a celebration of music and culture - had everyone all over the world glued to their TVs. Not only were established artists and genres of music exposed at the closing ceremonies, the whole world was chanting "Call Me Maybe" and looking forward to the new James Bond film (with Adele's song "Skyfall") to debut!
Julien Mitelberg, CEO, Bandsintown
2012 was a pivotal year for streaming music sites like Spotify and Rdio, thanks in part to connected mobile devices. The ubiquity of smartphones and tablets are the main reason why Pandora's listener's numbers have surged by upward of 45%; Apple itself is rumored to be looking into more streaming services. The astonishing proliferation of mobile devices is the one event that made 2012 the year of streaming music.
Golnar Khosrowshahi, President, Reservoir Media Management
Sony's acquisition of EMI created the largest music publishing entity in the world. As a publisher, you're regularly involved in catalogs changing hands and company acquisitions, but a deal involving catalogs of this magnitude is pretty astounding. There's also a bit of that 'end of an era' feeling about it-EMI had always boasted the biggest, best popular-music catalog in the world, with all of its classics and contemporary hits. These songs were the core of their corporate identity, and now they belong to someone else.
Joe Riccitelli, EVP/GM, RCA Records
The most influential/ impactful event this year in music was Hurricane Sandy. There is no doubt how it affected EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in the most populated area of our country and how that ultimately spread to affecting the nation. Buying habits were affected; radio programming strategies were affected as well as the consumption of music. It was such a factor that it put legendary global superstar artists together on one stage to raise millions and millions of dollars at the "12/12/12" concert.
Jean Nelson, Blueprint Group
To me the most influential event to happen in 2012 was the rise of the independent artist, such as Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Mac Miller, Doughboyz Cash Out, L.E.P. Boys etc. It is refreshing to see young artists take matters into their own hands and not allow radio to dictate. There is a whole movement of artists who have huge social media followings, tour endlessly, produce and shoot their own videos for YouTube and music sites. They work very hard for their fans and build up the most loyal followings, even if it means doing three shows at night in unglamorous cities.
In 2011 Mac Miller garnered a #1 debut with his Blue Slide Park (Rostrum Records) and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis hit #2 on the Billboard charts with their DIY release The Heist. These are acts that didn't get fame overnight with a controversial video or from a big name act co-sign - they actually were developed acts who put their time in, believed in themselves, made music that resonated with their fans and worked. These are the type of artists that will have a real catalogue, tour successfully and have an actual career.
Syd Schwartz, Founder/CEO, Linchpin Digital
Metallica obtaining the rights to their masters and moving out of the major label system--and they won't be the last. Catalog has been a huge cash cow for labels, so if they want to retain it they're going to need to get a lot more creative in how they package and market it -- frontline alone will be a difficult business to sustain. For labels to leverage catalog most effectively, they need artist participation and support from a marketing and creative standpoint.
Artists who do control their own catalog masters and marketing destiny have no shortage of companies and platforms to help them realize their vision for their catalogs. They may go with a sponsorship/patron model or go DIY with something like Kickstarter. Or, like Metallica, they may choose to form a label of their own. That said those artists may find that partnering with an existing major label provides the reach and marketing push they are most comfortable with--even DIY trailblazer Trent Reznor came back to the major label fold when he realized they had the marketing muscle he wanted, though under different rules of engagement than before. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming years.
Sam Rosenthal, Projekt Records
Silence -- the entire music business is being decimated by illegal downloads, with up to 95% of all music being traded illegally, yet everyone is afraid to talk about it (plus one to John Cougar in the HuffPost). The Tech companies are trying to destroy the content industry (music, movies, games, porn), and the government keeps sucking the tech teat, doing nothing to stop it.