Independent music labels project promising industry future

Independent music labels at #DEW2015: "If you have great music, the cream always rises to the top."

Beyonce's surprise digital album got plenty of attention a year ago, as did Taylor Swift's recent decision to pull her entire discography from streaming service Spotify. Both show how the music industry is changing quickly.

And panelists at the Digital Entertainment World Expo on Wednesday believe the future of digital music is bright as more and more artists adapt to it.

“The music business is going to grow and it’s going to grow rapidly,” said Terry McBride, CEO of Nettwerk Music Group.

John Boyle of Insomniac Events, Jared Gutstadt of Jingle Punks and Jerald Miller of Nu Jazz Management and Consulting joined McBride on the panel, moderated by Jeff Pollack of Pollack Music and Media Group, as they focused on the rise of independent artists and labels.

In stark contrast to the behemoth companies of years past, major record labels no longer spend time developing a large roster of artists, Pollack said. But as social media and outlets like iTunes have developed, countless others have the resources to strike it big – and independent labels are going to be the key to independent artist success, McBride said.

Boyle agreed.

“The Internet and all these new technologies were supposed to empower the whole 'do it yourself’ movement,” he said. “But what it’s done is disseminated that. There’s now too much product out there and not really enough marketing.”

Despite the ubiquity of artists trying to make it, if the artist has talent, success will come, said Miller, who used to manage Lauryn Hill during her career with rap group The Fugees.

“If you have great music, the cream always rises to the top,” he said, especially with the advent of the “non genre-specific music lover.”

“Now you see people crossing [genre] boundaries and buying things because it’s a good song or just good music,” Miller said.

Because “there’s no such thing as niche,” anymore, McBride said, “independent labels today have to run marathons” finding the market, even if only internationally, where their artists’ music will thrive.

“Every country is different in its regulatory structure and its culture so every country is a new opportunity for artists,” he said.

Conversation may be swirling about the massive shakeups in the music industry, but Miller isn’t worried.

“The future just looks good for everybody who loves great music,” he said. “There will people to buy everything, people to love everything.”

Follow the reporter on Twitter: @TrevellAnderson.

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