From East Coast to West Coast, ending at the second Innovators Forum event in Los Angeles. At a distance of two years from the first, the mood music from the senior US participants was strikingly different.
Now matching the sense that the expansion of distribution channels creates opportunity for the producer, there is a corresponding belief that embracing digital platforms generates both new potential and new audiences rather than cannibalizing or threatening existing. And whilst it is a picture of continual challenge for the broadcasters and studios to remain relevant, they are now actively engaged in seeking the next wave of innovation, revenues and business models.
In addition some of the biggest opportunities are being driven by new forms of content which derive from the culture of these platforms (for example MCNs & YouTubers), environments where authenticity rather than quality is the key commodity.
Andrew Kronfield from Universal Music neatly summed up the impact on the music industry of this evolution. Their focus is now marketing to people with disposable time, not disposable money – and ongoing dialogue is key. Monetisation of content occurs repeatedly over time and cashflow therefore comes later in the cycle, rather than as an individual upfront transaction. Millennials – a ubiquitous term on the trip – demand an “equity stake” in celebrity (in the loosest sense), so in this world the key impact measure moves “from sales to salience”.
Last word to Man Jit Singh from Sony who set out their current vision, if nothing else a fantastic aspiration – financially prudent, creatively reckless.