Jasper Donat on Music Matters 2014: 'Every Year We Bring Something New to the Party'

Music Matters, the largest and most important music conference in Asia, starts Wednesday (May 21) in Singapore and runs through Friday with live music showcases for the event continuing through Saturday.

The conference is part of a larger set of events titled All that Matters. This umbrella includes the YouTube FanFest, Social Matters and Digital Matters. But the flagship is Music Matters, now in its ninth year. It has grown steadily from the start and experienced a rush in the last few years. This year there will be 202 speakers, up from 145 last year. Branded, the agency putting on the conference, expects more than 1,800 attendees, up from 1602 last year. In addition, 65 bands from 18 countries will perform at the showcases, based mainly around Clark Quay, one of Singapore’s entertainment districts. According to Branded, the budget for the four days of events is over US $1.2 million.

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Jasper Donat, president and co-founder of Branded, notes that putting on four concurrent events is quite challenging but that is the cost of expansion: “Every year we try and bring something new to the party, in 2013 it was the YouTube FanFest. This year we have brought two new kids to the block, our tremendously successful Social Matters conference which is a joint venture with ad agency Ogilvy plus a new event Sponsorship Matters which is with the newly formed Asian sponsorship association.” Donat sees his event as reaching across different fields and uniting them: “Interweaving music, digital, social and sponsorship allows us to cover off the entire value chain of the digital entertainment market.”

Music Matters, focused on the Asian and Pacific industries, has carved out its place in the business and sees speakers and attendees come from across the globe. This year Max Hole, President and CEO of Universal Music Group International will give the keynote address, marking his return to the conference for the first time since 2007. For some pop sizzle Black Eyed Pea apl.de.ap will give a talk. He’ll also “stay all week and mentor a lot of bands and work with us to push the Philippines message” (that business is back to usual in the country after the tsunami), according to Donat.

Other notable speakers include: Marc Geiger, Worldwide Head of Music at William Morris Endeavor, Alan Ridgeway, President of International and Emerging Markets at Live Nation, Brian Message, Co-Founder of ATC, Anthony Bay, CEO of Rdio, René Rechtman, President of International at Maker Studios, Ken Ohtake, President of Sony Music Publishing Japan, Simon Wheeler, Director of Digital at the Beggars Group, and Bernie Cahill, Founding Partner of ROAR.

While Music Matters is focused on the Asian music business it does not focus solely on the bigger markets at the expense of the smaller  countries. Notes Donat: “We provide a lens for many smaller Asian countries such as Taiwan, Singapore and the Philippines, who can share the stage with the powerhouse markets such as Japan, Korea and Australia.”

The panels will address a range of issues from traditional revenue sources like publishing and touring to the more cutting edge monetizing digital media and doing business in a range of Asian markets. A panel on breaking into China will include Adam Wilkes, President of AEG Live Asia. A discussion on potential growth in music publishing will feature Scott Morris, Director International or APRA/AMCOS and Brandon Bakshi, Executive Director of Writers/Publisher Relations, Europe and Asia at BMI.

In addition to panels, speeches and interviews discussing key issues in the industry, the conference will put on the Music Matters Academy, offering young professionals an opportunity to study the business. Donat explains, “The Music Matters Academy equips tomorrow’s stars and business communities with the knowledge they need to survive in an incredibly tough world. The academy is free to attend, by invitation, for 150 young musicians and we have built an amazing two day program, including most of our big name speakers, most of whom get more from this than the main stage.”