Music Matters Report Shows Promise in Developing Asian Markets
Music Matters Report Shows Promise in Developing Asian Markets

jasper (Photo Courtesy: Music Matters)

Music Matters 2012, the industry one-stop covering "all that matters" (as their catchphrase declares) in music, entertainment, technology and media in the Asia Pacific region, is back for its second year in Singapore, after six in Hong Kong.

Produced by Branded Ltd., the music conference runs May 24-25 and Music Matters Live festival from May 24 to 26. Prior to that are the one-day Gaming Matters and two-day Digital Matters.

This year, Jasper Donat, Music Matters president and co-founder of Branded Ltd., tells Billboard there will be 1200 participants, up 200 from 2011; the same number of speakers, about 175; and a similar number of performers, about 40.

The Biz Q&A: Jasper Donat, President of Music Matters

Billboard spoke to Donat at 11 p.m. in Singapore where he had just finished showing one of Music Matters' sponsors around all of the festival venues. Last year, following Music Matters in Singapore for the first time, you were thrilled with how it went and said the feedback was all positive. As months passed, in putting together 2012 and being more analytical about the programming, what were some of the changes that you made?
Jasper Donat: In trying to put together an event that encompasses the music industry, plus the entire digital entertainment environment as well, one of the more constructive bits of feedback we were getting last year was that we touched on some really good subjects, but we didn't drill down enough because you just don't have the time in the program. And so, this year we have designed seven different workshops and roundtables that will go on at the same time as the main program, which we've never done before.

What were some of the topics that people wanted to see more of?
Publishing, actually publishing, publishing, publishing, publishing… [laughs].

Why do you think that is?
Asia is 53 different countries and every country has its own collections society, its own publishing rules, so getting licenses for music services in this part of the world is a very tough ocean to navigate. Now, what we're hoping this year, and what we're focusing so heavily on with the publishing and licensing process, is that we'll be able to calm the waters and make it a lot easier to get through.

So we're doing a full day WIPO [World Intellectual Property Organization] summit on the proposed international music registry. We're doing a two-hour, very high level, closed-door workshop with the publishing community as well, a publishing roundtable - I can't mention their names because it's closed door but global heads of publishing businesses meeting with local collection societies meeting with regional publishers, meeting with labels, meeting with licensees, licensors. Very important.

We're also doing some introductory workshops. So we're doing a thing on gaming for people that don't work in gaming. Although I hate the word, it's all about 'gamification,' turning your business into a game. We've also got a 'video matters,' which is all about the future of online; and then the third workshop is digital publishing, which is the traditional publishers - the Wall Street Journal, IHT [International Herald Tribune], the FT [Financial Times] and where they're all heading because they're probably the most exciting part of the media instrustry right now because they've got so much to gain and to learn.

These are all different from last year?

Yes. Completely new.

Touring-wise, how is the Asian market today?
It's been a growth. There are now more and more opportunities opening up, more and more countries are opening up. Five years ago, you would only go to Indonesia if you were sponsored by a tobacco brand; now, I think Indonesia is one of Facebook's largest countries, so Jason Mraz has been there, played in Bali; Iron Maiden played there. A huge number of bands are going to Indonesia, there are 250 million people. And it's not sponsored by tobacco; it's a legitimate live music market. Also, India is opening up; China is doing as much as it can to open up. The Asian region isn't just relying on what used to be Japan and Australia; it's now expanded into many more territories."

Does that mean touring is a big component of Music Matters 2012?
One of our round tables we're doing is called Live Music Matters. This is where we have 30 of the top touring people in the region and the world coming together to talk about certain issues in the Asian live industry and seeing if they can find any solutions.

Any big coups in terms of keynotes and speakers?
Yes, [Lady Gaga's manager] Troy Carter's coming, which we're really excited about; [producer] Bob Ezrin is coming, which I'm personally really excited about and John Meglen [AEG]. The great thing is they get to rub shoulders with their Asian counterparts, so it's not a case of having big bad Americans coming into Asia saying, 'Look, how it's done over here.' It's much more of a case of 'What can we all do to learn from each other?'

Last year, you indicated you wanted to make the festival larger. Is it?
Yes, we're grown the number of bands; we've grown the number of venues; and grown the size of the main stage [laughs]: a bit of an in-joke at the moment; we've got the most ridiculously large stage. The main thing with the festival is this year, for the first time, we are broadcasting it live on YouTube, but in partnership with YouTube. Anyone can stream a concert, but we have partnered with YouTube. They want to support the Asian music industry. They're really getting behind it and promoting the festival and we're producing the live feed. In fact, we're producing 16 live feeds and we're going to be beaming it live over three nights at So that's big news for us. We also have the local Singapore Polytechnic producing it for us, so we've got the TV producers of tomorrow producing the stars of tomorrow."

Are there any tourist activities arranged for people coming such a long way?
We keep everyone in a pack. We only have one thing going on at the same time. So every night we have two parties, but they're back to back, so we keep everyone together and try to give them as much music as we possibly can. We have three nights of the festival. So there isn't really any time to do the tourist stuff.