Jim Donio Opens Music Biz Assn. Convention with Honors for Sylvia Rhone, Jonathan Poneman

In his opening address to the Music Business Assn. convention in Los Angeles, the trade group's president Jim Donio noted that, while the growth of streaming was more than offsetting declining download sales, IFPI data also showed physical was still holding 51.4% of global revenue.

"This is clearly a pivotal point in the shift from units to access as the dominant consumption model," Donio said.

That shift is among the reasons behind the transformation of Donio's trade group, from the National Assn. of Music Merchandisers and digitalmusic.org to its new name, the Music Business Assn.

"As Music Biz, we put our collective experience to work across the entire range of delivery models," Donio told convention attendees. "Now, there is no confusion. We are not the physical music business or the digital music business, we are the entire business. From content to consumption, Music Biz, its members, partners and affiliates are committed to building the future of music commerce… together."

He added: "The Music Biz membership is now a broader ecosystem of diverse music business companies and individual professionals, including labels, managers, service providers, retailers, and technology enablers."

During his speech, Donio outlined many of the organization's initiatives in the past year.

"We aggregate research and analysis, and publish issue-specific white papers, style guides, and infographics, the most recent being the Artist Website Toolkit," Donio said. "Every musician needs an official website...Using the services listed on our [site], any artist can easily develop their own personal platform that goes beyond music, tour dates, bios, and blogs, to include advanced features for direct marketing and customer relationship management, turning the resulting sites into fan builders and revenue generators."

In another initiative, "Search engine optimization continues to be top priority for our operations and supply chain work group," Donio said. "We released our first 'SEO for Music Websites' infographic at Music Biz 2013. We coordinated a meeting at Google’s headquarters in February with the major labels and the service providers, to revise the recommendations so music does not get 'lost in the cracks' of the Internet."

He also noted that the organization has stepped up its efforts to facilitate advertising, marketing and other merchandising iniatives around music award shows and festivals. The Music Biz also promotes the "Give the Gift of Music" program and provides Valentine's Day promotions.

After his speech, the organization presented Epic Records president Sylvia Rhone with its "presidential award for sustained executive achievement," and Sub Pop co-founder Jonathan Poneman with its "independent spirit award."

Donio noted that, for more than 25 years, Sub Pop has been launching the careers of such artists as Nirvana, Fleet Foxes and the Shins. "Along the way, Jonathan’s unflinching vision and integrity have set him and his label apart as true champions of the precious balance of art and commerce, and standard-bearers for nurturing the independent spirit this award is designed to applaud."

In presenting Rhone with the sustained excellence ward, Donio noted that it was the first time in the organization's history that a female executive had won it. "This woman has not only survived, but thrived for almost 40 years in one of the most challenging and mercurial businesses of them all," he said.

Accepting her award, Rhone playfully chided the trade group for taking so long to finally honor a female executive. She noted that she's been in the business for 38 years and has seen "enormous change" during that time. "At times, being in the music business as it went through changes felt like being on a roller coaster," she said. "But that's okay because change teaches us how to be better at how we do business."

Rhone noted that she didn't strive to be the first black person, or first woman, to climb the executive ranks. "I just wanted to be the best," she said. "But I knew that I had other women behind me coming up... So failure was not an option."