Downloading, commercial licensing, and the emergence of â€œ360 dealsâ€ for music artists were key subjects during â€œFast Forward: A Look at Tomorrow's Music Industry,â€ a question-and-answer session featuring ACM@UCO President Scott Booker and Livia Tortella, president and COO of Warner Bros. Records during Wednesday's Creativity World Forum at Cox Convention Center.
Booker, who has managed The Flaming Lips for 20 years, spoke about 360 deals, in which record companies such as Warner Bros. oversee the tours, merchandising, publishing and recordings of artists in exchange for a percentage of profits in those areas. Tortella said Warner Bros. began signing artists such as Oklahoma City's Stardeath and White Dwarfs to 360 deals six years ago.
â€œIt became logical because it just allows us to continue developing an artist,â€ Tortella said, citing the emo-pop band Paramore as an example of the long-term fostering of artist's careers through career development.
She said that once CD sales began to drop 10 years ago, such deals allowed the labels to be able to continue doing business with artists, especially those whose careers were based more on touring revenue than music sales.
Tortella also addressed the dominance of the iTunes Music Store, currently the No. 1 music retailer in the business, followed by Wal-Mart and Target. She said it is in the record label's best interest to foster relationships with retailers beyond iTunes to create a healthier market. In recent years, this has included Record Store Day, an event held in April when over 700 record stores offer special pricing and merchandise.
Another change in the industry is the prevalence of licensing music for commercials or for use in television and film. Booker said that in instances where The Flaming Lips have licensed their songs, such as â€œThe Yeah Yeah Yeah Songâ€ for Kraft salad dressing, it has provided an infusion of cash for the band to record and tour and has worked as a promotional tool.
â€œHow certain artists make money is changing, and it's less about albums and it can be more about licensing income,â€ Tortella said. â€œFor the Black Keys, that (licensing) is their number one source of income.â€
â€œIn The Flaming Lips scenario, nine times out of 10 we'll go along with any license,â€ Booker said. â€œThe pay is nice, and getting people to hear your music is a good thing.â€