Audio Renaissance - A Meeting of the Movers and Shakers in the Audio Supply Chain

Futuresource Event Highlights




27 Oct 2015 - The second Futuresource Audio Renaissance event was held last week bringing together the audio hardware and music supply chain leaders, discussing how to drive quality, experience and revenue throughout the industry.

One of the highlights of the conference was Grammy-Award winning artist, composer and technologist Imogen Heap and Paul Pacifico of the Featured Artist Coalition, who stressed the need to drive fairness and transparency in the music industry, ensuring equality for all. Heap then brought the conference stage to life with her enthusiasm for cross industry collaboration and shared her vision for Mycelia, a 'fair trade' enabling music industry digital platform which utilises block chain technology. The vision for this platform is to enable all contributors in an artistic production, musicians, record companies, designers and even the fans to track, measure and reap deserved rewards from the value they have brought to projects. The event culminated with Heap raising her head above the parapet suggesting more industry collaboration with symbiotic supply chain leaders beyond that of the event.

Subscription music and streaming services was the next topic on the agenda, exploring who was benefiting the most from the growth in streaming music services. This panel moderated by Futuresource discussed issues surrounding royalties, business models and the winners/losers in the value chain. This was drawn from the Futuresource music market report which highlights that consumers are increasingly drawn to streaming services in favour of acquiring packaged media or digital downloads for their collections. David Sidebottom of Futuresource stated that, "2015 marks the 50:50 point in the shift of global expenditure away from packaged media (CD & Vinyl) to digital music."

Gene Hoffman CEO of Vindicia shared his thoughts on revenue opportunities available from both ad supported and subscription based models. He went on to discuss how the traditional record store has been dethroned and how consumers have demonstrated an appetite for good content and a willingness to pay. As one of the founders of eMusic, Gene was well placed to highlight the pitfalls to avoid based on past experience.

The consumers' voice was also loud and clear in the conference as Mark Barber MBE, Radiocentre, shared the findings of their study into audio listening habits in the UK. Using qualitative video interviews, he highlighted the roles different audio services play in the lives of the British public. This really brought home the fact that radio has a significant economic and cultural impact on the UK, making a positive contribution to the energy, happiness and wellbeing of its listeners.

Continuing with the theme of increasing audio consumption, Simon Bryant, Associate Director of Consumer Electronics at Futuresource, set to the stage with Qualcomm, Imagination Technologies, Radioplayer and Rovi to discuss what technology enablers will facilitate seamless, smart connectivity, simplifying and enriching the audio experience in the home, in the car and on the go. The consensus was the technology industry tends to over complicate things and there is a gap in consumer education. Drifting slightly to the wider connected, smart home topic they discussed the role of Amazon Echo style devices as home control centres and the role of voice activation in this space, which was universally agreed would play a more significant role. The impact of Chromecast audio on the multi room market was also addressed but described as more of a 'sticky plaster solution'.

The Innovation showcase and subsequent panel on premium audio for #audioren2015 was centred on developments in audio technology. Auro Technologies introduced their Auro-3D formats and technologies that enable a more immersive audio experience, not only in the cinema but in mobile and streaming applications too. On the panel, Omnifone's Matt White, Spencer Chrislu of MQA & Benoit Rebus of Qobuz discussed how MP3 revolutionised music consumption but also spawned a generation of listeners who know nothing better than a highly compressed, lower quality audio experience. The panel agreed that there needs to be more education about the premium audio experience with Benoit stating that "there is a place for both premium and lower cost compressed audio for different life-stages and listening experiences."

Finally the last session of the day was conducted by Dave Young of The Box Plus Network. Young focused on what's next for music video in a golden age of TV with extensive media fragmentation and new immersive and interactive technologies such as VR and augmented reality. The challenges in developing a viable online presence was highlighted by Young stating that music video rights cost four times that of Broadcast.

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Notes
Futuresource Consulting is a specialist research and knowledge-based consulting company, providing organisations with insight into consumer electronics, digital imaging, entertainment media, broadcast, storage media, education technology and IT. With a heritage stretching back to the 1980s, the company delivers in-depth analysis and forecasts on a global scale, advising on strategic positioning, market trends, competitive forces and technological developments. www.futuresource-consulting.com

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