Predictions and resolutions for 2015

With 2015 upon us, there is widespread optimism about the music industry. Touring continues to grow, and a shift in the recorded music market away from ownership toward the subscription model has many believing that perhaps changing business models can breathe new life into a very disrupted industry over the past 15 years.

Challenges stand in the way. Secondary ticketing continues to pose huge problems in touring, despite highly increased ticket prices. And streaming’s business model is threatened by public reports of very poor artist payouts, leading major artists to pull content from the services.

At Rethink Music, we have a few predictions for 2015:

1. Streaming will gather momentum and become dominant or well on its way to dominance, depending on the market.
2. Consumers will begin to demand better sound quality through streaming. Neil Young’s Pono player and Jay-Z’s recent bid for Tidal, the hifi streaming service, are bringing attention to the fact that we don’t have to listen to poor quality compressed MP3′s anymore.
3. Sadly, major record label power will further increase. With a floodwall of independent material, distributors will be looking to the big players to give them tomorrow’s hits. And in the end, labels are the ones with marketing machines powerful enough to make or break an act.
4. Writers and artists will take a stand on digital payouts, and technology will begin to allow true total transparency to better understand how the money is flowing.

We also have a few promises and resolutions we think the music industry should make this year:

1. Artists and writers should pledge to educate themselves about how money is made in the music industry. Every single artist should understand the basics of copyright and money flows in music.
2. Streaming services, labels, publishers, and PRO’s should promise and deliver complete transparency about their payments process and what deductions are taken, and should pay royalties within a reasonable timeframe in readable formats.
3. Finally, and perhaps the most important, the industry should take a vow to work together to grow music revenues. There is just no point in fighting over a decreasing pie.

We CAN move forward and have a healthy industry. It’s just time to do things differently.

Posted in Blog

Berklee/Rethink Music announce partnership with Kobalt to drive the future of the music business

Boston/New York, November 18, 2014 – Berklee College of Music and Kobalt today announced an innovative collaboration for driving growth in the new music industry. Kobalt is providing a two-year grant for Berklee’s Rethink Music initiative to continue its series of global events and fund a study in conjunction with Berklee’s newly formed Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE). The student-led project will review the ways technology and transparency can help address global music licensing issues and bring artists, writers, publishers, labels and distributors closer together.

Additionally, in an effort to support up-and-coming songwriters, Kobalt is providing a $10,000 merit-based scholarship annually to songwriting majors at Berklee. The Kobalt Scholarship will be named after various Kobalt songwriters each year.

We are extremely excited and grateful to be working with Kobalt. Kobalt is well known as a leader and forward-thinking company in the music space, and this partnership will allow us to continue to pursue our goal of fostering the new music industry,” said Allen Bargfrede, executive director of Rethink Music for Berklee College of Music. “Through our project work in the coming months on technology and transparency, and via our entrepreneurship events, we expect outputs which will both alter the space and create opportunities for Berklee students.”

Willard Ahdritz, founder and CEO of Kobalt said, “We are thrilled to be working together with this prestigious school and their outstanding young students. They are our future! The motives and objectives of Berklee’s Rethink initiative align closely with our own at Kobalt, and I’m confident that the work we are doing together will produce direction and solutions that will help shape the music industry of the future.”

Berklee’s Rethink Music began in 2010, and in collaboration with academic partners at Harvard Law School, Babson College and IE Business School, the program fosters dialogue and ideas for the new music industry. Rethink maintains its strong affiliation with Midem, the annual music industry trade conference in Cannes, France, and will continue its search for the next music business entrepreneurs and creators through a series of events in 2014-2015, including its annual Venture Day in Berlin, which has quickly become one of the largest events in Europe focused on music entrepreneurship.

Rethink Music is expanding its reach this year, with the global licensing research project led by BerkleeICE’s research lab which is seeking to work closely with other universities including Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and MIT’s School of Engineering. Kobalt is supporting the initiative by providing anonymized publishing data, allowing researchers to better understand revenue sources, royalty matching and licensing terms.

We’re very appreciative for Kobalt’s support” said Panos Panay, Founding Managing Director of Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship. “Our mission is to foster entrepreneurial thinking, disruptive ideas and innovation through cross-discipline collaboration. Tackling the complexity of music licensing issues – with perspectives from various universities – should prove very insightful and can help inform the future of the music industry.”

We’ll soon be announcing events for 2015. Until then, don’t forget the “music” in “music industry.” See you soon!

Posted in Blog

Rethink Music premieres “Changing Frequencies”

Our new short film about artistry and technology is now out on Vimeo!

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Rescued Ideas wins Berlin Venture Day

Rescued Ideas, a Berlin-based company with their product the Basslet, which lets users “feel” the beat of the music, was the winning startup concept at the annual Rethink Music Venture Day Berlin on October 24. The event, hosted at Factory Berlin, drew more than 400 startups, investors, artists, entrepreneurs, and executives in this second edition, making it the largest event focused solely on music entrepreneurship in Europe.

Second place went to French music game company Meludia, and third place went to Valencia, Spain-based Play It Forward, a non-profit focused on providing access to music education. Read the full press release here.

We’ll be back next year Berlin!


Posted in Blog

Program and selected startups announced for Rethink Music Venture Day Berlin

Berklee College of Music, Midem, and IE Business School have now announced the full day program for Rethink Music Venture Day 2014 in Berlin, taking place on October 24. It is available here.

The day of global networking with other international music business start-ups, entrepreneurs, brands and investors – as well as the chance to meet guests and speakers from leading international companies and organizations – will run from 10am-6pm at Factory Berlin, the new technology startup campus in Mitte, Berlin, followed by an after party and networking event presented by Music Tech Fest. The event is free to attend with advance registration at

Finalists for the Rethink Music Berlin Venture Day 2014 start-up competition have now also been announced. 12 start-up projects from countries including France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, UK and the US, have been selected and will pitch their ventures to our panel of judges made up of experienced music executives and investors, at the event at the Factory in Berlin on October 24. The winner will be awarded a business start-up package worth $10,000.

Offering an extensive variety of original products and services – and seeking an average investment of 800,000 Euros – the start-up ventures will be pitching a range of new ideas, from a wrist band to enhance the musical experience through physical sensation; mobile and web-based applications for building and entertaining fan bases; marketplaces for artist bookings; gaming to discover new music; to educational applications to learn music; training your ear to understand music; and a platform to provide free interactive music education to children across the globe.

Posted in Blog

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