Dan Rosen on ending a decade of digital disruption in a position of strength
As the decade comes to an end and we move into the 2020s, ARIA chief executive Dan Rosen declared at his BIGSOUND keynote, “There’s never been a greater time to be in the music industry.”
Things were quite different when he took over the job ten years ago, and friends cautioned him against entering a dying industry.
Rosen talked excitedly about the global opportunities and challenges lying ahead in the next decade—and his confidence that Australian talent would overcome both.
He cited a parallel between Tones And I’s rapid global success and the Australian music industry’s quick change, from being 100% physical in 1999, a 14-year change to going digital and the swift dominance of streaming
“There are not that many businesses on the planet that would have that much of a change in five years. That’s an incredible amount of disruption,” he said.
The music industry was the first to go into digital disruption, and the first to come out, he pointed out.
He recalled the acceptance of rapid change as the growing norm.
At last year’s BIGSOUND, Tones And I had to busk on the street because she didn’t get a showcase slot.
Within 12 months, she had leaped from busking in Byron Bay to playing the AFL Grand Final.
She is #1 in Norway, Sweden and Ireland, and ‘Dance Monkey’, after five weeks at #1 on the AIA chart, is closing in on Kylie Minogue’s chart record for a female artist at #1.
‘Dance Monkey’ has also hit a new radio airplay peak this week, reaching #4 on the TMN Hot 100.
Rosen provided ARIA figures to show the strong local consumer support for music.
Music is considered important by 99% of Australians in all demographics – strongest in the 16—24 and 55—64 groups – with 50% in each declaring themselves to be “music fanatics.”
Australians listen to 18.3 hours of music a week, with radio being the primary source (up to 80% of the younger consumers), followed by paid music and video streaming.
At the same time, financial analyst Goldman Sachs has forecast that the global music industry will be worth US$130 billion by the year 2030.
Of this, $80 billion will be recorded music, $38 billion live, and $125 billion publishing.
“That’s a great global opportunity for us,” Rosen emphasised.
Jumping On The Globe
A major challenge for the Australian music industry was how to get local content onto the predominant major streaming services; Amazon, Apple, Google/YouTube and Spotify.
He noted TikTok and Tencent Music were crucial for those wanting to crack the huge Chinese market.
Aussies therefore needed to turn their mindset from aiming their music at mostly a country of 25 million and with music exports at 20%.
They now had to focus 80% on global, on reaching the 2 billion worldwide consumers who discover their music on YouTube and the 4 billion listening to iTunes.
The battlegrounds will be the competition between the major streaming services, getting streaming into the car, and in the home where Aussies have lagged behind America and the British in adopting smart speakers.
It’s up to local executives to work with the rest of the music industries, with technology companies and with the federal government, who’ve now realised that the music biz was right all along to fight to protect copyright decades back.
That there were so many international executives at BIGSOUND listening to Australian music was a strong sign, he stressed.
There was also the additional challenge where once, our platforms and devices like CD players and iPods were music focussed.
Now music has to compete on streaming platforms with other artforms.
Rosen recounted a comment from Netflix executives when asked who the platform’s closest rival was.
“They didn’t say Disney or HBO, they said, ‘sleep is my competitor’.
“Which is a metaphorical way of saying, I’m competing for minutes in people’s lives. I’m competing for attention.”
He summed up the state of the Australian biz:
“We’re ending the decade much stronger than when we went in, that’s a great story.
“If I wanted to put it in a phrase of a great Aussie band, we’re back in black (laughs). And it’s a great feeling to be back in black.
“We have a growth mindset in this business now, there’s positivity and there’s optimism.”