The New Streaming Music Industry & Are Cloud Music Services the Same Old Song and Dance?

Wednesday, March 14, 5pm, Austin Convention Center Room 8BC

Wednesday, March 14, 5pm, Austin Convention Center Room 13AB

For years now, talk of music technology at South by Southwest has obsessed on the imminent arrival of the cloud, streaming services that deliver a boundless celestial jukebox. This year, that conversation shifts drastically from what will be to what we hath wrought.

The arrival of Spotify in the U.S. to accompany interactive streaming services like Rhapsody, MOG, and Rdio; cloud offerings of online giants Apple, Google, and Amazon; and the stock market validation of Pandora all signaled that streaming music has become a mainstream reality – and brought with it an entirely new slew of problems.

"Who's benefiting from it? All the wrong people," stresses Jeff Price, founder and CEO of TuneCore, a digital music distribution service. "The traditional music industry now has a new income stream that is based on other people's music and copyrights being exploited and sold. It is the largest global scam that exists in the music industry today, depriving artists and songwriters of hundreds of millions of dollars."

Price has spent several years attempting to follow the money – paid, owed, and misappropriated – from downloads and digital streaming services, fighting against what he considers a global shell game of copyrights and performance royalties not being properly paid. His SXSW panel, The New Streaming Music Industry, outlines how payments due artists are being diverted by licensing companies that often don't even hold proper rights to material they're charging for. The services then have their hands tied in needing those licensing rights and wanting to pay songwriters while having no way to identify independent acts to make payment.

"We're still in the beginning of the evolution and this is pretty uncharted territory," reasons Jolie O'Dell of VentureBeat, who participates on the panel Are Cloud Music Services the Same Old Song and Dance? with other industry analysts and players from Pandora and mSpot.

"I think that's how technology innovation works," she continues in relation to the legal and monetary issues of new music start-ups. "The underlying philosophy is build the coolest thing you can imagine and then figure out how to make it work in the real world in terms of money and legal details. So there is a bit of a gap, and it's definitely a growing pain of creating innovations that are legal and where the artists get paid, and we're still figuring that part out.

"There needs to be a lot more dialogue between the entertainment community and the tech community."

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