You can’t accuse the 2013 New Music Seminar of thinking small. The conference kicked off Monday morning with a wide-ranging “State of the Industry” panel featuring Frank Cooper, the chief marketing officer of PepsiCo; John Sykes, the president of Entertainment Enterprises at Clear Channel and Rio Caraeff, president and CEO at Vevo. The talk centered primarily on growth areas for each of the represented platforms, especially brand partnerships and mobile devices.
Caraef opened the panel by sharing some new statistics about his three-and-a-half-year-old video company, which he said now boasts 240 million users worldwide generating 4 billion views per month. Most of Vevo’s viewership is abroad, with only 25 percent coming from within the United States. The data point that Caraef drove home the most, however, concerned how users were accessing the platform. A 51 percent majority of Vevo’s U.S. views now come from mobile devices.
“We don’t build Web products anymore,” he said. “We build mobile products that work well with televisions.”
The importance of mobile was echoed by Sykes, who said that while all digital businesses still represent a small part of Clear Channel’s revenue, the company devotes an increasing amount of resources to the sector because of prevailing trends among youth. Sykes oversees the radio giant’s cross-platform service iHeartRadio, which he said was born partly out of a need to better market the sustained vitality of the medium. He cited statistics showing that the percentage of Americans listening to radio every week has held steadily at an astonishing 92 percent for the past 40 years.
Though he was the only panelist not working in the music industry directly, Cooper said he shared many of the goals of his co-panelists as a representative of a company that participates in culture. A former music industry executive, Cooper said Pepsi looks to music when it wants new ways of creating value for consumers, whether that means creating the Green Label Sound singles label with Mountain Dew, recruiting Ne-Yo and Calvin Harris to record a song for the World Cup, or making original, episodic content with Beyoncé.
“We see structural gaps in the new music ecosystem and we say to ourselves, ‘Why can’t we fill that?’” Cooper said.
Cooper said Pepsi is beginning a live concert initiative designed to expose artists that are big in other countries to American audiences. All the participants agreed that breaking new artists, and not just leveraging superstars, is vital to their business. Caraeff said Vevo’s most successful original series is “LIFT,” which spotlights 8-10 emerging artists per year and is sponsored by McDonald’s.
“You have to develop new artists -- it’s good business,” Sykes voluntered. “It’s like BMW: You’ve gotta have that hot new car in development or else you’re going to be stuck selling the same car forever.”