Lyor Cohen, vice chairman of Warner Music Group and CEO, Recorded Music Americas and U.K., called for unity throughout the music industry at the opening day of Manchester’s In The City – the U.K.’s biggest music conference.
Sharing the stage with Big Life Management CEO Jazz Summers, who represents acts including The Verve, Cohen spoke of his wish for the industry to return to an earlier, more fraternal age “where we were all rooting for each other.”
“You’ve got to take away the corny over-arching thinking that all record companies suck,” said Cohen during a gentle sparring match with Summers. “That’s too easy and right now as the business is evolving and it becomes really complex we need unity to right what is happening to us.”
He continued, “If we continue fighting or continue thinking that there’s no role for [record companies] and that we suck, it’s not going to benefit the artist. I know at Warner Music Group, we want to work harder to earn your trust – the managers in this room, the agents, the artists – and we want to viewed as a friendly place for artists to take the risk of being an artist.”
Earlier on day one (Oct. 5) of In The City, the official launch of the Featured Artists’ Coalition was met with a positive reception from delegates. U.K. singer-songwriter Kate Nash, Jazz Summers and Radiohead manager Brian Message were among the panellists launching the London-based organization, which will represent artists’ rights and interests.
“Artists are the ones that drive everything – the culture, the economics; they are the ones out of all the business that should be rallied behind,” said Message. “This is the time for artists to be elevated onto that stage so that they can have a say in the whole new rules of the game as the digital revolution really starts to bite.”
“It’s artists together, standing together and whether you’ve just been signed, [or] you’re not signed, if you’re meeting with labels – it’s something to represent yourself and ensure that you’re protecting what you’re actually doing,” added Nash.
This year marks the 17th In The City conference, which runs Oct. 5 to Oct. 7. ITC guest host Andrew Loog Oldham was among the delegates that paid tribute to founder director Anthony Wilson, who died in August last year.
Other notable speakers throughout the day included Andy Burnham MP, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, who reassured delegates of the government’s commitment and support during “a crucial moment in the British music industry.”
“It is our responsibility as government to support the music business and make sure that it has the right conditions to prosper and thrive,” he stated.
“The music industry’s part of the bargain, in return, is to make sure that talent is fairly treated and properly rewarded; that it invests time, money and expertise to develop the talent; that it is open to new talent from a much wider pool and that it is prepared to take risks and innovate and not retreat into a comfort zone on tried and tested artists.”