The first session of the day was an interview with Ted Cohen, SVP Digital Dev & Distribution, EMI Music,(pictured here with Deidre at a party the other night). Peter Kafka from Forbes carried out the interview; I’m not sure of his background, but to me he certainly started off his questioning very agressively, seemlingly holding something against the big record companies as repesented by EMI and Ted. There were challenges about declining record sales, increase of single track downloads, old business models, impact in indi lables and working with online models. Throughout, Ted held his ground and ensured he got the mesage across that he thinks things were changing.
Update: Peter has updated me on this:”i covered entertainment and other topics for forbes mag for 8 years; now i edit forbes.com’s media and tech coverage. if i seemed aggressive it’s just because i knowthat ted is an articulate speaker who can get his point across and wanted to provoke him into doing so; hopefully that worked.” I agree here – he did get his point across well and the questions asked did provoke good responses
Key points I took out of it were:
- EMI believes it has got better at understanding the users and offering them alternatives. It’s not just the record sale anymore.
- the digital market allows far more artists shelf space than could happen in meatspace alone.
- EMi is in a transition – the change to digital cannot happen overnight
- they may be selling smaller quantities of more artists (like an indi label) but still have more to offer in their expertise and experience in developing the artist. They are getting better at spending moeny inteligently to support this.
- he thinks the digital music could be improved by intereoperability in itunes. There are better devices than the ipod, it’s just that itunes has 80% of the market.
- he’s optimistic in hoping that this is the year that subscription takes off, that the systems will work together, that you can have cross platform playlists etc.
- they are always examining opportunties to increase avaialability for things like podcasts. There are a new set of ground rules and he is keen to ensure there is an appropriate compensation. Good for things like music discovery and new artists.
- he’s excited about the opportunities with over the air music, mobile development etc
A very switched on guy, working to make the most of the digital space. halfway through he pulled out a bag of gadgets, all new offerings in portable devices that will let you play music and video.