Syncs' Influence, Streaming's Global Reach Discussed at the Music Finance Forum

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Jordan Bromley, Matt Burns, Susan Genco and JT Myers at Music Finance Forum.

Even in the modern streaming era, syncs are still helping break acts, according to music executives speaking at the Music Finance Forum presented by Winston Baker held last week in Los Angeles. 

During the debut conference's "The Future of Streaming: Rights, Royalties and Valuation" panel on Sept. 12, industry leaders discussed how exposure in other medias such as film and television can provide necessary extra visibility for an artist’s work.

“The biggest one for us was The Lumineers. They were touring a lot, doing a lot of work and just no results,” said Ingrooves Music Group co-founder and general counsel Matt Burns. “They got a sync [with Apple] and the whole world changed.”

The Lumineers’ hit “Ho Hey” was used by Apple in 2013 and launched the song into mainstream success.

Prompted by panel moderator and Manatt Entertainment partner Jordan Bromley’s question on breaking artists, panelist Susan Genco of The Azoff Company mentioned Billie Eilish’s appearance on The Hate U Give movie soundtrack.

“I think it is an accumulation of moments,” said Genco. “When people talk about Billie Eilish, she had that huge sync in The Hate U Give before anyone other than my 13-year-old knew who she was. But she had already done all the work and had such a culture around her.”

Genco added that syncs can help keep legacy acts relevant as well.

“If you look at an act like Journey who has an incredibly successful touring career still,” said Genco. “They had the moment in The Sopranos and they had a moment on Glee. That has translated now for generations. They’re touring business is healthier than I would have ever thought.”

Panelist and CEO of management company mtheory J.T. Myers helped create Major Lazer’s breakthrough, thanks to founding member Diplo’s foresight with streaming. 

“In 2014, the industry’s perspective on streaming was driven on what is the appropriate amount of monetization, for obvious reasons. The general consensus was of two minds about Spotify,” said Myers, explaining the team was focused on breaking "Lean On" on Spotify in hopes of making Major Lazer a festival headlining act. “We spent six months with Spotify ... building a plan to try to globalize this kind of independent dance act. That ended up being the most streamed song ever on Spotify. That created a lane for us to win on all of the traditional metrics too.”

By going with a platform like Spotify that was often times vilified in its early years, Myers explained that Major Lazer’s investment in streaming resulted in “Lean On” being the first-ever Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart-topper for an independent artist.

According to the panelists, streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music have also expanded artists’ reach into new territories.

“It is shocking how much Mexican people stream. Shocking. We’re talking magnitudes higher than everywhere else,” Burns said of the most promising territories outside of the U.S. “I think the other really exciting stuff is Sub-Saharan Africa where we used to make no money at all and now there is real money from streaming."

Genco and Myers agreed, noting the data from streaming on new territories helps inform where their clients should tour.

“We work with a lot of DJs in China. It is a really important market at the moment,” said Myers. “The monetization isn’t there yet but you can see it in the show offers, which have been super lucrative. India is really exciting just because it is a huge market.”

“I have been exploring markets and there are two things to think about,” said Bromley. “First you look at the amount of money that is spent on streaming subscriptions in the market. Then you have to think about what percentage of the market is listening to market-centric music. In India, 80% is market-centric, so you’re not going to say that’s a great opportunity for Western music because there’s only a 20% window. China is similar where there is a smaller percentage listening to American music.”

“But then again, there are a billion people in India, half those people have cell phones and their carriers give them a plan and they’re spending a dollar a month or whatever on streaming. Just do the math,” added Bromley. “There is so much room for growth in the international markets.”


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