Page last updated at 10:07 GMT, Thursday, 22 January 2009

How to fix the music industry

By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News, in Cannes

Clockwise, from top left, Groove Armada's Tom Findlay, singer Donovan and Radiohead singerThom Yorke
Clockwise, from top left, Groove Armada's Tom Findlay, singer Donovan and Radiohead's Thom Yorke

Thousands of people from the music world - from struggling singers to superstar managers and record label executives - have been at the annual Midem conference in Cannes, France.

With the music business in upheaval, they have all been talking about how it can adapt and survive. Here, a range of figures pick one thing they wish they could change about the music industry.

DOC MCGEE - Manager of Kiss

If I had to change one thing, I would probably change the corporate structure of record labels. Put them back into the hands of real artists and music people. That's how we'll survive.

DONOVAN - Singer and songwriter

What are we going to do about people taking free music on the internet?

If one of those nerd kids could work out something so every time you take a song and you haven't recognised that a writer wrote it, or somebody really needs a miniscule part of a penny for it, that a banner comes up and says: 'Just remember, somebody wrote this song and they might not be able to pay their electricity next week.'

RICK REED - Counterpoint Systems, royalty processing, Los Angeles

I would love to see the artists and writers of music get paid quickly and the right way, instead of being paid 12 years after they wrote a song, or not enough, or never. That would be my biggest beef.

SHABS JOBANPUTRA - Head of Relentless Records, home KT Tunstall and Seth Lakeman
Joss Stone
Relentless Records is also home to singer Joss Stone

I would change the nature of the contracts we sign with the artists. The relationship the record companies have has to change.

We have to look at a new business model and a way of developing creative talent in a different way that isn't based on an exploitative contract based on a small royalty. It's based on a partnership and we are helping to build new and exciting talent over a long period of time that we cherish and nurture.

IAIN WATT - Manager of Mika and Alphabeat

I would like people to see much more value in music and change the perception that they think they can get it for free and it's perfectly acceptable to pay nothing for what ultimately is an incredibly valuable product.

BOHBI FM - Reggae singer, songwriter, producer, promoter

If I could change something in the music industry, it would be to invest in new acts. Put the money in unknown artists. Because for the last 20 years, we are hearing the same acts all the time. We need a change.

BRIAN MESSAGE - Co-manager of Radiohead, Faithless, Kate Nash
Radiohead
In 2007, Radiohead released album In Rainbows in a pay-what-you-want offer

One thing I would change in the music business is a mindset. It's about being optimistic about the opportunities we have in front of us. We have to accept the principle that a product-based model is under severe stress.

There are two primary sets of people in this business that matter - artists and fans - and we should all focus on them. And the internet gives us a real opportunity to develop long term careers between artists and fans, and that's a huge challenge but a huge opportunity for us all.

HARVEY GOLDSMITH - Concert promoter and manager

For the people working in the industry, it's about communicating more with each other. And from a public's point of view, it's to realise that music isn't really free, and if you don't help to pay for the music, then artists can't create it.

TOM FINDLAY - Groove Armada & Lovebox festival organiser
Groove Armada: Tom Findlay (left) and Andy Cato. Photo: Ali Mobasser
Groove Armada are signed up with drinks firm Bacardi

There's a stranglehold that very few promoters have got over the major music events in the UK. My great frustration is the inability to ever book the headliners we want [for Lovebox] because they're always stuck at the same three or four festivals.

There's a dearth of headliners around this year for different reasons and the two or three bands I'd like to book are sadly cup-tied and out of our financial league. A band like MGMT would be perfect for Lovebox but they're already miles away, sadly.

PANOS PANAY - Chief executive of gig booking website Sonicbids

I think this is a great time for the industry. It's just shifting and the way people are making money is changing. And if I were to change one thing, it would be the obsession with hits.

I think too many people are way too depressed about the absence of hits, but they're missing out on the greater opportunity, which is this fundamental shift away from music for the masses to music for the niches. I think there's a new class of artist emerging, an artistic middle class.

MARIA BUTTERLY - Irish singer and songwriter

I would like to encourage people to come out to live performances to support live acts more. Make more of an effort. Don't take it so for granted because it's on your doorstep. Feel the live music. Let it touch you. Let it bring up your mood for a good day, for some high energy, and make that part of a social network for yourself.



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