04 Jun 2007

Some last-minute notes from the Music Matters Asia-Pac Forum last week:

1. No one likes Steve Jobs

You may have gathered that from the last post, but in the final session - the one with all four major label regional heads on the stage - moderator (and IFPI president) John Kennedy had to ask the question: "Steve Jobs - friend or foe‾"

Not unexpectedly, Paul Robinson of EMI said, "Fantastic bloke, sends his mother flowers."

Universal's Max Hole was less charitable: "Steve Jobs doesn't care about music. He only cares about selling hardware."

Warner Music's Lachie Rutherford described Jobs as a "spellweaver" and a "shapeshifter". "Or maybe he's got good weed, I dunno," he added.

That said, Hole and Rutherford - as well as Sony BMG's Kelvin Wadsworth - did give Jobs credit for showing the industry that music downloads could make money. That was about as nice as it got.

2. Soon to be a major motion picture

Ironically, one of the most intriguing stories I heard at Music Matters had nothing to do with music at all. It was the story of Maho i-Land (Magic Island).

If you haven't heard this one already, Maho i-Land is the community web site in Japan that not only provides blog space, social networking and music, but also has a section where aspiring novelists can write e-books for mobile phones.

And, if they're good enough, they can get an actual book deal out of it. Maho i-Land acts as a literary agent for members who draw interest from publishers. Around 27 books that originated from the site have been published, and one of them - Koizora - was so successful that the Japanese film industry came calling. One deal later (which Maho i-Land also negotiated on behalf of author Mika), the film, called Sky Of Love, began shooting in April and comes out this November.

To summarize: Teenage girl writes novel, getting comments from the web community as she goes, gets read by 16 million mobile users, gets book deal, gets movie deal. Would she have a book deal with a film option without social networking and mobile‾ Maybe. But not nearly that fast, and not with nearly that level of input.

And so much for Music Matters 2007. Bottom line: mobile music has still got plenty of growing pains to get through, and much of it is related to the same old problems of licensing, royalty negotiations, and the DRM thing. As usual, the reality will be different from the hype - but this is good, because as long as the users continue to be the central driver of services (and they will be), they'll be the ones doing the innovating and taking mobile music in original and exciting new directions. Your best bet: PAY ATTENTION.

Excuse me. My helicopter is waiting.

Tanner signs off"&brkbar;

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