Thinking and Acting Globally at the New Music Seminar

As the Internet age matures, it has eased international music distribution and changed artists’ touring strategies around newly developed global fan bases. This was the topic of "The Globalization of Music," a panel that was part of New York City's New Music Seminar Monday afternoon. Bill Werde of Guggenheim Media (Billboard’s parent company) conducted the session, which featured Daniel Glass (President, Glassnote Entertainment), Steve Hill (Head of Marketing, Warp Records), Andy Chen (CEO, Aspiro Group), Peter Szabo (VP Head of Music, Shazam) and Ari Taitz (COO, ADA Worldwide).

"For the first time, you don't necessarily have to get signed to a major to get worldwide access. Doing the groundwork, being a beachhead and live touring [is still necessary], but the access is available," Taitz said.

Social media and streaming services drive this new international growth, which gives labels and distributors valuable data on where artists are developing abroad. Shazam, the song identification app that boasts a 470 million user base, is one important data point. "Especially for a specialist label, which is built around a long-term connection, things like how many people are 'Shazam-ing,' and where the data is coming from is really interesting," Hill said.

Shazam’s Szabo outlined the different services that the app offers to labels and artists, focusing in on their country-and-city-specific most Shazam-ed charts. “The way that people are discovering music music really is through a TV commercial or a video game. We’re lucky that we’re the de facto way of identifying that music.” He mentioned anecdotal stories of acts such as the All-American Rejects, who adding Salt Lake City to their tour dates, because of Shazam data. 

Glass, who has developed Phoenix, Mumford & Sons and more recently Half Moon Run into international acts, emphasized that that both international fan base data and a broader selection of festivals has driven growth for his artists. "Touring is so much easier because of the ubiquity of festivals. Festival owners are making an investment at the beginning of your career — that's something that was around 15 years ago."

The execs cautioned that interpreting this data as just one piece of a broader marketing and promotional puzzle is necessary. "You can get caught up in the metrics. We study passion and comments [on social media and from clubs] that humanizes the music to see what they think and what they feel," explained Glass.

The latter half of the panel was focused difficulties in on registering for collection of neighboring rights and performance royalties abroad, especially considering complexities in different regions. Distribution companies such as ADA, who was represented at the panel, rights agencies such as Merlin and Sound Exchange were brought up as potential solutions, but there was no consensus on how best to collect revenue from these royalties abroad.

When developing an artist abroad, everyone agreed that a solid marketing strategy and consistent touring in selected regions is most important, though. "You really have to walk the walk and talk the talk when you're in these markets," Glass said. "I get very aggravated seeing a band going everywhere. Take a lesson from bands in the '60s and '70s, who lived in two or three cities tops, and became part of the fabric."