During Wednesday’s panel, The Evolution Of Indie Music Publishing, five field experts gave an overview of the industry and covered a number of vital topics that every singer-songwriter out there should know about. Aside from explaining the important differences between major and indie labels (with an obvious bias towards the later), the panelists also addressed subjects like their relationships with artists, the sub-publishing model and sync licensing.
The panel was moderated by Reach Music’s Executive Vice President, Scott Rubin, and was comprised of Melissa Emert-Hutner, Director of Publishing at Nettwerk One Music; Jeremy Yohai from New York’s Downtown Music Publishing; Evan Taubenfeld of Mighty Seven Songs; and Jaime Gough from Australian-based Native Tongue Music Publishing.
Rubin began the discussion with the differences between indie and major labels, to which Taubenfeld assuredly replied, “Difference is majors suck.” Taking a slightly less aggressive approach, Yohai gave the big guys a little credit by saying they both have the power to help artists and that in the end what’s most important is that bands go with someone who believes in them.
As the conversation went on, all panelists had the chance to give their numerous opinions on why indie ultimately beat the big bad major labels, and they all seemed to agree on a number of points. Here are some key arguments: at an indie label you’re not just a number, you’re a person; indie labels are in it for the music, not the money (even if they still get some cash, that’s not the point); indie offers a quicker reaction time, and artists can easily reach their reps by email and cellphone. They were all very proud of this.
But what does “indie” actually mean? As Rubin put it, indie means different things for different people, the panelists included. While for Rubin indie is about flexibility, for Emert-Hunter it’s about ethics and giving their artists and writers the attention they deserve to help them cultivate their careers. Yohai supported both points and added the lack of hierarchical nonsense, and Taubenfeld and Gough agreed on the importance of a close relationship with artists and writers through thick and thin.
The dialogue followed with a commentary on the pros and cons of sync licensing and ended with a quick discussion about technology and social media. All five panelists agreed on the importance of sync in a time when artist revenue has dramatically decreased, and named it not only an essential part of the music publishing business, but also a great way for artists to get their music out there. When the topic shifted to technology, Taubenfeld pleadingly asked everyone in the room to join forces before Google, Pandora, and SoundCloud puts us all out of business.