The Business Of Music With Matt Everitt

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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01The Pirate Ship2016041820170403 (R4)

In the first of a two-part series, journalist and broadcaster Matt Everitt talks to record executives, industry insiders, artists and fans about the decisions that have transformed the record industry.

In the late 1990s, when Debbie Southwood-Smith was working as an A&R manager at the height of the CD boom, it seemed the money would never run out. She would stay in the Four Seasons Hotel every week, she'd follow bands around the world. But then, one day, she walked past her younger brother's room and heard the sound of CDs spinning and hard drives whirring. ""It was my job to notice trends - but Napster, I didn't see that coming.""

The launch of Napster in 1999 shifted the power of the industry. Since then global music revenues have shrunk by 45%. MP3s and online file-sharing gave listeners the opportunity to take risks without having to buy a CD. Soon, a generation brought up on free music regarded the music bosses as overfed and considered that downloading was not stealing.

The industry struck back and took legal action - but what a different story it might have been if Napster had been co-opted and been turned into a paid service for the industry.

Secret talks would lead to the launch of iTunes - but people bought tracks, not albums, and revenues fell. The record labels fought digital, and digital won.

Record executives, managers and industry insiders including Roger Ames, Daniel Glass, Peter Mensch and Brian Message are asked, could the music industry have saved itself, or was it the inevitable victim of the sudden shift in technology?

Producer: Barney Rowntree

A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4.

In the first of a two-part series, journalist and broadcaster Matt Everitt talks to record executives, industry insiders, artists and fans about the decisions that have transformed the record industry.

In the late 1990s, when Debbie Southwood-Smith was working as an A&R manager at the height of the CD boom, it seemed the money would never run out. She would stay in the Four Seasons Hotel every week, she'd follow bands around the world. But then, one day, she walked past her younger brother's room and heard the sound of CDs spinning and hard drives whirring. ""It was my job to notice trends - but Napster, I didn't see that coming.""

The launch of Napster in 1999 shifted the power of the industry. Since then global music revenues have shrunk by 45%. MP3s and online file-sharing gave listeners the opportunity to take risks without having to buy a CD. Soon, a generation brought up on free music regarded the music bosses as overfed and considered that downloading was not stealing.

The industry struck back and took legal action - but what a different story it might have been if Napster had been co-opted and been turned into a paid service for the industry.

Secret talks would lead to the launch of iTunes - but people bought tracks, not albums, and revenues fell. The record labels fought digital, and digital won.

Record executives, managers and industry insiders including Roger Ames, Daniel Glass, Peter Mensch and Brian Message are asked, could the music industry have saved itself, or was it the inevitable victim of the sudden shift in technology?

Producer: Barney Rowntree

A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4.

02The Stream Age2016042520170404 (R4)

In the final part of this series, journalist and broadcaster Matt Everett asks what life is like for an artist making music in the streaming age. With so many ways to create, listen to and distribute music, why are artists doing so badly? We hear from Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie, Radiohead's Ed O'Brien and The Kindness's Adam Bainbridge.

For those artists who have built a fan base, the live music industry can be healthy, but promoters and managers complain of a diminishing number of headline acts. Many of the UK's small music venues are under threat and, while the British music industry is worth £3.8bn, much of that money comes from artists stepping on to the stage. If the music industry is broken, who is going to save it?

Launched in Sweden in 2008, we talk to Spotify about how it managed to make piracy unfashionable but why it still faces accusations of ripping off artists. Faced with such criticism, we hear how they have paid out some $3bn of royalties. But how is that money shared out? Why do some artists receive small royalty cheques for songs that have been streamed thousands of times?

Last year, music sales in the UK rose for the first time in more than a decade, but how much of the growth can be attributed to Adele? We hear how CDs still make up half of the market and talk to Adele's label boss, Richard Russell from XL.

YouTube is now the world's most popular digital music service, used frequently by hundreds of millions. But the viability of free, on-demand streaming services is facing increasing scrutiny. We ask YouTube's Robert Kyncl why the UK labels make less money from his company than from vinyl sales.

Producer: Barney Rowntree

A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4.

In the final part of this series, journalist and broadcaster Matt Everett asks what life is like for an artist making music in the streaming age. With so many ways to create, listen to and distribute music, why are artists doing so badly? We hear from Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie, Radiohead's Ed O'Brien and The Kindness's Adam Bainbridge.

For those artists who have built a fan base, the live music industry can be healthy, but promoters and managers complain of a diminishing number of headline acts. Many of the UK's small music venues are under threat and, while the British music industry is worth £3.8bn, much of that money comes from artists stepping on to the stage. If the music industry is broken, who is going to save it?

Launched in Sweden in 2008, we talk to Spotify about how it managed to make piracy unfashionable but why it still faces accusations of ripping off artists. Faced with such criticism, we hear how they have paid out some $3bn of royalties. But how is that money shared out? Why do some artists receive small royalty cheques for songs that have been streamed thousands of times?

Last year, music sales in the UK rose for the first time in more than a decade, but how much of the growth can be attributed to Adele? We hear how CDs still make up half of the market and talk to Adele's label boss, Richard Russell from XL.

YouTube is now the world's most popular digital music service, used frequently by hundreds of millions. But the viability of free, on-demand streaming services is facing increasing scrutiny. We ask YouTube's Robert Kyncl why the UK labels make less money from his company than from vinyl sales.

Producer: Barney Rowntree

A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4.