The booming international live music sector is still relatively untapped, veteran British artist manager and agent Carl Leighton-Pope told delegates today on the final afternoon of the Popkomm 2007 trade fair.

The executive, who has guided the careers of Dire Straits and Bryan Adams, among many others, said the music industry had a bright future, but warned against the players in the live sector resting on their laurels.

"Ticket prices are increasing and people love going to the gigs." For the public, he said, "It's not about the money, it's about being at the event, being at the show." But executives "really don't understand this business yet. We have no clue now," he said. "The Internet arrived on a white horse, wearing black underwear," he quipped. "The Internet has brought secondary ticketing and all sorts of problems to the industry. It's not just a matter of embracing it, but trying to understand it and what it means for the industry. And because of the Internet and the way people can now communicate with one another, it shows that our business was either undervalued when we started it or we haven't been fast enough to adapt."

And Leighton-Pope effectively called time on the traditional recorded music model. "We're going to have to try and understand that the CD is not our future. The CD is an endangered species. But people who are at gigs still buy records. We just need to find a way to make the chart-eligible."

Leighton-Pope, who has operated in the industry since the early 1970s, regaled the audience with his personal insight into human behavior and why live music is in such a fit state.

"People are saying 'fuck the record, lets go to the gig.' And it just turns into a massive karaoke session, where we all sing our heads off. Why don't we just do that at home and save the money? It's because of the 'event'," he explained. "We have now entered an era when we spend our entire day looking at a screen. People migrate to where other people are. We want to be with other people. Audiences for movies, theatre, sport and rock concerts have grown because we have isolated ourselves, and we don't like that very much."

In an afternoon session entitled "Are bookers and agents the A&Rs of tomorrow?", agents and record label executives debated the future shape of the live industry. Christof Ellinghaus, owner of German independent label City Slang, warned that indies would not survive if they continued to rely solely upon sales of recorded music.

"For me, 360 degrees is the only model if we're to survive," he said. "Music [only] is a thing of the past. If I have the expertise to book a tour in-house, then I'll do it."

But Hilde Spiller of the Netherlands-based Paperclip Agency said: "I can understand that the labels want their money back from other places now record sales are down. But in the past the labels didn't share their income with agents."

Panellists at the "DRM is dead - long live DRM" debate called for the industry to finally put interoperability to rest.

"Interoperability, incompatibility stunted the growth of the computer industry, but it was short-lived. But now the music industry is facing the same problem," noted Bob Kohn, CEO of RoyaltyShare and a founder of eMusic. Kohn also pointed out that a lack of investment in back-end technology had hindered the development of the digital business.

Customers are getting all the benefits of innovations and technologies. There is tremendous power is in your hands. But it's the back-end infrastructure where the investment hasn't been made," he explained. "It's just a matter of time until it is solved, but it requires patience. We are going in a trough right now. There needs to be processing power. We will come out of it when the infrastructure is improved."

Thorsten Schliesche, Napster's GM and VP Germany, VP sales and marketing Europe, disagreed. "Do you really think we can sell one more song by working on the back-end. I don't think so."

On the panel dubbed "Lets talk mobile - how is mobile music consumption changing and growing", Rob Lewis, CEO of Omniphone, suggested Apple's iPhone has started a revolution.

"The iPhone has been a catalyst. It changed consumer expectations. It has made every operator and manufacturer realize they have to get music right. It's not an optional extra. Otherwise they will lose customers not just for music sales, but in terms of handset sales, texts and minutes."

The music industry, he reflected," has a much better future than in the past, if we get it right. Everyone now wants to make this work. Operators, manufacturers know they have to get music right because it would affect their core business, and they have to look after the revenues for the industry."