The following MBW blog comes from Tanguy Giraud (pictured), COO & Program Director at Marathon Artists LABs. Marathon Artists LABs, which is run from Marathon Music Group’s HQ at Tileyard Studios in London, has collaborated with a wide range of music startups to accelerate business development objectives whilst building a pipeline of sales prospects within the music sector.
It is clear that the music industry – at least the value-chain segment dealing with distribution, exploitation and monetisation- now has an overwhelmingly digital focus.
Innovators in this space are often free thinkers and tempted to rip up the rulebook. Alongside their natural entrepreneurial instincts there is a common trait among music start-up founders that sees them retain a deep affinity with music alongside an unquenchable need to share a vision with the world, often as artists themselves or as music fanatics.
Like a lot of businesses in the music industry, we face problems and spot inefficiencies in our organisation and in the wider music sector on a daily basis.
We are fortunate therefore that this new breed of entrepreneurs are hungry to find solutions and enhance our day-to-day operations, whether that means improving financial traceability and transparency, enhancing data-driven decision making or pioneering new hardware and software for music production.
It is also true that the music industry hasn’t been the most open to nurturing up and coming entrepreneurs. The antagonism & rejection of Napster’s Shawn Fanning (and his Web 2.0 peers) served as a cautionary tale to the music business whose purely IP-led model was forever altered following the advent of file sharing.
As a music company therefore, we think it is important to help innovative new music companies pitch and meet the industry leaders of today and tomorrow. We all know that the ‘bubble’ mentality of our business makes it hard for innovators from outside of the ‘traditional’ industry to initiate conversations with decision-makers so we decided to act as bridge for those relationships.
As a result, we launched the first iteration of our start-up program ‘Marathon Artists LABs’ three years ago, to accelerate the development of what we considered to be promising music technology companies.
History shows that disruption, for lack of a better word, has always been at the core of the music industry. From selling sheet music on street corners, all the way through the various physical format iterations to where we are today in a digital market, access and monetisation have never been so scalable.
Yet, along with these exciting new opportunities come new challenges.
Music discovery is our current focus and our team are currently working with a number of exciting new companies who are finding interesting ways to enhance that process. Not much has changed in the field of music discovery since the modern music industry established itself. Scouts unearth and present new talent to an A&R manager who unilaterally decides if the artist or group is promising.
“It is vital that we remain open to engagement with innovators and entrepreneurs aiming to make an impact in our fascinating industry. We dedicate our lives to working with ground-breaking artists so it follows that we need to apply the same level of care and attention when interacting with those who can enhance creative and commercial opportunities for our industry.”
Tanguy Giraud, Marathon Artists LABs
These start-ups we are mentoring are already investigating ways in which A&R departments can source new deals and accelerate the pace at which they can move before competing A&Rs take notice.
Other areas of innovation in this field range, for example, from tools that can be used by self-distributed artists to help gain better visibility to audiences and industry professionals to machine learning-powered A&R scouts and AI bots acting as artist managers for debuting artists seeking to self-release.
No one knows what the future will hold but those who work in music are hardwired to accept and adapt to change.
We believe that the next wave of innovation will come directly from the very core of our industry (as it has often been the case in the past) – the artistic community.
It is becoming increasingly common for artists to experiment with the capabilities of AI and machine learning within their creative process. Well-known names within the electronic music community such as Holly Herndon or more recently Jean Michel Jarre have demonstrated how AI can be used to complement their creative output, considering it almost as a new instrument with which to express themselves.
It is stimulating curiosity and excitement not dissimilar to the first-time electric pickups on guitars were used or synthesisers started to enter the studio. And that, really, is why the music industry needs to have an “always-on” attitude to entrepreneurship and the start-up eco-system.
It is vital that we remain open to engagement with innovators and entrepreneurs aiming to make an impact in our fascinating industry. We dedicate our lives to working with ground-breaking artists so it follows that we need to apply the same level of care and attention when interacting with those who can enhance creative and commercial opportunities for our industry.
We owe it to the artists we represent to see innovators and entrepreneurs as valuable partners and to facilitate their access to and interaction with new technology – whatever form that might take in the future.Music Business Worldwide