DECEMBER RECAP: Lost In Transaction
On Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, the Producers & Engineers Wing® of The Recording Academy®, in conjunction with The Recording Academy Nashville Chapter, hosted "Lost In Transaction," a panel discussion that focused on the increasingly complex and intricate landscape that the music industry has become for artists, record producers and recording engineers. The event was held in the evening at Ocean Way Studios in the heart of Nashville's Music Row district. An audience of nearly 100 Recording Academy members and others gathered in the facility's Studio A — once the soaring sanctuary of a church — to hear a trio of panelists uniquely qualified to parse the complicated business environment that the music industry has become.
Attorney Elizabeth Gregory has handled contractual matters for record labels, producers, songwriters and major- and indie-label artists, as well as licensing for a number of leading law firms in Los Angeles and Nashville, and in 2001 launched her own boutique practice in Nashville specializing in representation for artists, producers, songwriters, independent labels and publishers. Entrepreneur and author Jay Frank is the Owner and CEO of DigSin, a singles-focused music company that leverages platforms including social networks and analytics to expose artists to a wider audience, and formerly Senior Vice President of Music Strategy for CMT and Vice President of Music Programming and Label Relations for Yahoo! Music. Joe D'Ambrosio heads talent management company Joe D'Ambrosio Management, Inc., whose roster includes GRAMMY®-winning producers Tony Visconti, Hugh Padgham, Kevin Killen, Jay Newland, Frank Filipetti, Elliot Scheiner and Lawrence Manchester, as well as mixer Joe Zook, arrangers Rob Mounsey and Larry Gold, sound designer Nathaniel Hare and many others. Before founding his company, Joe was the personal manager of the late producer and 14-time GRAMMY Award-winner Phil Ramone. The panel was moderated by Dan Daley, a leading and respected journalist and author who covers the business of entertainment technology globally for publications including Billboard, Resolution, Sound on Sound, the London Daily Telegraph, Fast Company and Wired. He also moderated the first "Lost In Transaction" event hosted by P&E Wing and Nashville Chapter in 2013.
Daley opened the event, briefly but comprehensively recounting the immense transition that producers' business models have undergone, from simply a portion of an artist's retail points when CDs were king, to a growing variety of diverse sources, including downloads, streaming and publishing, each with its own potential upsides and disadvantages. "They don't all add up to what they used to," said D'Ambrosio. The conversation then went on to cover the decline of download sales and the rise of streaming, the pros and cons of producer-owned studios, the benefits and drawbacks of taking more guaranteed compensation upfront versus counting on more royalty participation on the back end, how stems and music-minus tracks have taken on new importance (and potential for abuse), and the enhanced role that data plays in music production and marketing today. A spirited Q&A with the audience took place after the panel discussion, and questions ranged from how companies like Spotify and Pandora are changing the fabric of the music business to how much Nashville's music industry has changed as a result of all of these forces.
"'Lost In Transaction' has become a highly anticipated event for both the Producers & Engineers Wing and The Recording Academy Nashville Chapter," stated Maureen Droney, Managing Director of the P&E Wing. "It covers an often overlooked but critical aspect of music production, which is the business of music production. We all love the technical aspects of making music, and our passion for music itself has never been stronger. But without a firm understanding of the how our industry is changing around us, our ability to continue to make music for a living becomes imperiled. 'Lost in Transaction" is how we keep our members aware of how the music business is changing."
Photo Caption: Pictured L-R: Joe D’Ambrosio, Elizabeth Gregory; Jay Frank and Dan Daley. Photo courtesy of The Recording Academy®.