Name: Paul DeGooyer
Title: MTV Network’s senior VP of electronic games and music
Panel: Digital Now (Thurs. March 4, 11:40 am - 12:25 pm). More info at Billboardevents.com.

At this moment, what most worries you about the music business? What most encourages you?
What worries me most now is what has always worried me about the music business. It feels like we have one last chance here to get it right and actually figure out how consumers want to interact and engage in music, and not stand too much on esoteric rights issue that means nothing to the consumer.

There’s coalescing here with content bundling and a reordering of the way people interact with artist and social media. If a new business model emerges, I would hope we can very quickly pull together the rights profiles and be able to exploit it on behalf of artists and consumers. The encouraging part is there are more ways to experience music than ever, and there are more ways to monetize music as well. So as long as we don’t screw it up, that’s encouraging.

Philippe Dauman during the Viacom 4Q earnings call said that the company wants to spend less on music licensing for videogames and be more selective about the songs it does license. What does that mean for the music game genre?
The reversal that the business has experienced requires us to look hard at our cost structure and nothing is immune from that analysis. I am impressed that some of our major partners recognize this and are working with us on this. At the time that Philippe made those comments, we’d already made substantial progress in terms of managing the cost side. To me it points out the value of the download platform we’ve established. Users have the ability to upgrade from Rock Band 1 to Rock Band 2 and keep their library of downloads and even export music from those discs. That’s where we’ll be doubling down.

Are you going to do much more artist-based games? Sales of "The Beatles: Rock Band" were lower than expected.
The Beatles game was a tremendous success no matter how you define it - from a creative perspective and from a sales perspective it was no slouch as well. It’s a hit game by any definition. In the context of us trying to figure out what the correct market sizing is, we need to be more selective and more targeted in our marketing approach. We have a Green Day game coming and we’re really pleased with it and we feel that will be a successful game. It’s not that we’re stepping out of it completely; we’re just going to be more selective and targeted.

What's the most important lesson you've learned while navigating your way through the recession?
As much as it can impact the number of consumers who opt in to an expensive game, great content will always win out. The Beatles game selling what it did is amazing given the economy. Great content continues to sell. In a time when most videogame sales happen in the first two weeks and have gone the way of the DVD business, we’re starting to see our games perform like great music catalog in that it continues to sell.

What’s the last album you bought?
I actually just bought Spoon’s “Transference.”

Paul DeGooyer is speaking on the Digital Now panel and Billboard’s Music & Money Symposium March 4 in New York. Other panelist include: Cameo Carlson, Executive Vice President, Universal Motown Republic Group; Gina Bianchini, Co-founder and CEO, Ning; David Goodman, President, CBS Interactive Music Group; and David Hyman, CEO, MOG.

For more Better Know A Panelist Q&As click here.

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