John Kennedy and Bob Lefsetz

I had the unique pleasure of participating in a debate last night between John Kennedy who leads the IFPI and Bob Lefsetz – journalist and opinionator extraordinary. It was an amazing experience to hear the full ferocity of the IFPI (international equivalent to the RIAA and UK’s BPI) on the subject of licensing and the business model of the majors. It is quite clear, as one leading music industry lawyer confided in me afterwards, that there are a very small number of major label bosses who sit on very large salaries, who are incentivised by very near term bonuses, and whose chauffeur driven life style is very attractive – and that these guys only see the next five years of holding on to their gigs and are just not interested in anything beyond.

None of that is so amazing – what is interesting is that all these companies are owned by shareholders or other media conglomerates who ought to be demanding a digital strategy that can be carried forward.

So where is the sophisticated taking advantage of their fabulous position, where is the seizing of the opportunity to barter a mega act for an unknown – or to swap a conventional business model for a radical new one – or not swap it – just add it into the mix. Nowhere…

So – yes, the field is wide open – but no the leverage is being kept by the impoverished four.

The majors – the impoverished four – Kennedy says they’re still a $30bn business – I heard it was down to $20bn these days… well which is it? Aaah of course, it’s the IFPI that gives out those statistics… that’s called shareholder relations.

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