Music Matters: Katy Perry Manager Steve Jensen, Chrysalis Founder Terry Ellis Talk Importance of Touring, YouTube at Asia Summit

Courtesy Photo
Jasper Donat speaks at Music Matters conference in Singapore in 2015.

Music Matters, arguably the most influential music conference in Asia, and its performance wing Music Matters Live celebrated their tenth editions in Singapore last week, from May 20-23 at and around the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Hotel in Singapore.

There were over 100 symposia featuring industry heavyweights including CAA superagent Emma Banks, Katy Perry's manager Steve Jensen, CEO of AEG Live Jay Marciano, Chrysalis Records founder Terry Ellis and retiring Warner Music Asia Pacific president Lachie Rutherford.

Music Matters Live saw 72 bands from 23 countries and territories perform 160 gigs over 4 days at 10 venues. The proceedings are put together by Branded under the All That Matters umbrella of events.

Jasper Donat, founder and CEO of Branded, notes the event is focused on examining the trends developing in Asia and the world for the evolving industry. "For our 10th year anniversary we wanted to raise the bar for the entertainment gateway to Asia and hammer in the agenda for the next decade. Aside from three full days of music we went behind the streams to look at the viewing habits of the millennial zeitgeist."

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Banks related how she started the London office of CAA about nine years ago with five employees, which has since grown to 78. "We thought the business was becoming more and more global, that all parts of artists' careers were more and more integrated and the opportunities that we can give them," Banks said, going on to underline the importance of video to artists. "More and more people around the world are discovering music through YouTube. If you can do something visually interesting you have a better shot."

Jensen commented on the Asian territory, through the lens of sheparding Katy Perry's massive career, saying that "it's important to come to Asia. It's important to know when to come and when not to come. You don't want to overdo it." He explained, "When we come back on the next tour we probably won't play all the same markets because you need to give them a breather. I think in Asia, and Australia's somewhat similar, you need to give more space between tours and more space between albums, but especially between tours."

Ellis, one of the founders of Chrysalis Records, recapped his company as the home for bands like Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Blondie and Spandau Ballet. But the thrust of his talk criticized the big record labels and celebrated the new era of the industry. He noted that between 1985 and 2000 the record sales tripled and this led the industry to believe the music industry was the record industry. That was a crucial mistake according to Ellis. "The music business and the record business are quite separate." He noted the former is an evergreen pursuit concerned with musicians performing. Ellis continued saying that artists used to think that "getting that big record deal was essential. This put the record companies in a position of tremendous power. We began to see an almost master-servant relationship… which is incredibly unhealthy in a creative business." He summed up his upbeat talk saying, "Barriers to entry to the market have lowered…. Success is now dependent on efforts and talents of the musician rather than the efforts and talents of a record company guy."

Dovetailing with Ellis' emphasis on performing was Music Matters Live, which featured bands from Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, China, Vietnam and Indonesia, among others, as well as French and Australian showcases. Some of the standouts included the Singaporean singer-songwriter Gentle Bones (AKA Joel Tan), who recently signed with Universal Music and the Korean electronic dance act Idiotape. The trio blasted the main stage on Thursday night. 

Donat summed up the entire proceedings saying, "VIPs from brands, labels, promoters, publishers, talent managers, platforms, digital delivery channels and the like connected with gusto under one roof to learn, spin ideas, seek solutions and get deals done. Positive feedback and hangovers have both been extraordinary and we're already starting work for 2016."