Even though mobile phones and other digital media are now the main way music is distributed and consumed in some Asian markets, labels still have a role to play in the region's fast-changing music ind

Even though mobile phones and other digital media are now the main way music is distributed and consumed in some Asian markets, labels still have a role to play in the region's fast-changing music industry, agreed regional executive speakers at today's (May 11) concluding session of the Music Matters conference in Hong Kong.

"Do we need record companies any more?" asked Warner Music Asia Pacific president Lachie Rutherford rhetorically. "Yes - we need good record companies, not bad ones."

Noted EMI Music Southeast Asia president/COO Paul Robinson: "Our core business is still making music."

However, Universal Music South East Asia president Harry Hui commented, "We're all a lot wiser than we were five years ago," when file-sharing and the emerging digital paradigm started to erode the traditional foundation of the recording industry.

Sony BMG Music Entertainment Asia president/COO Kelvin Wadsworth pointed out that despite the rush to digital, traditional physical sales of music in the region (excluding Japan) are still worth some $800 million annually. And, he noted, "every market in Asia is different."

Rutherford noted that at the last regional music-industry gathering, 1998's Asian Music Conference (also held in Hong Kong), "people from the record industry were full of fear, and the tech people were full of greed. It wasn't a very healthy mix. We still have a lot of issues to deal with, and we still have a lot to do, but we've come a long way."

He added, "(At the Music Matters conference), we deliberately set out to create a non-traditional gathering. We have an obligation to be much more user-friendly than we were in the past."

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