- Related Stories
T-Mobile, EMI test ad-supported video serviceSeptember 11, 2006
EMI offers music catalog to Qtrax networkAugust 10, 2006
EMI offers music catalog to MashboxxJuly 28, 2006
EMI considers opening its DRM to inspectionJanuary 20, 2006
iPods to support copy-protected CDs?November 17, 2005
(continued from previous page)
Now, you work it and then you put it out. You go on the road, you build up a fan base, you get a MySpace page. You do this and you do that. Then you'll get some radio play, maybe. Radio is starting to use the Internet as a sort of research program as well.
You're working those taste-making communities and trying to get to some attention there. You don't go to radio straightaway. And then when you've got your record somewhere up the chart, you come with your album. It certainly used to be the other way around.
So is MySpace is the big taste maker people say it is?
Munns: We look at all of those (social networks), and then we start to get to a picture. It's allowing you to see the consumer directly, consumer response directly, the good and bad. So the marketing techniques are switching from sort of mass market to a more fragmented approach.
Not every artist we have "works," and not every record we have "works," so it's enabling us sometimes to find out more what the consumer and the taste-makers think about our music before we spend a lot of money. That in itself it will act like some kind of filter.
But the reason we love this business is (that) you don't know. You can play me a record that I think is absolutely the most wonderful thing in the world, and it won't sell a copy. And you can play me a record I think is crap, and it'll sell a million. Do we have some idea that we've got people who are good? Sure, but it's not an exact science.
Is radio still influential, or did the companies sort of over-program themselves? As a kid, I seem to remember that stations played a greater variety of music.
Munns: I think radio is still pretty important. But in some countries, it has got itself too narrow-cast, and it's too worried about what the other guy is doing. Some radio stations, some radio programs are better than others on that front... They're migrating some listeners to satellite or digital radio or online radio, which is perhaps even more adventurous, but still radio and its concept isn't going to go away.
We touched a little bit on this earlier, but what happens to how music is released in the future. Will this become a singles business or will albums still be around?
Munns: The singles market and the album markets coexisted very comfortably all through my life. So the concept of the single, hearing your track in isolation on the radio, buying a track on its own, taking a track off YouTube--the concept of the track business has always been there...There's nothing wrong in an artist having a huge hit all around the world and not repeating it.
What I actually meant was, is the concept of an album gone? Do people think about putting out collections of songs as a cohesive whole or as singles?
Munns: Well, I can say I'll just a put out a track every month for a year and release an album at the end of it. It will be more flexible like that. But at the end of the day, most artists I know--pretty well all the artists that I know--their dream, their oil painting, is an album.
You get 40 minutes long, 60 minutes long... Some of the Beatles records weren't even 35 minutes long. That's what they want to do. And if it gets sliced and diced in different fashions along the way, it will happen. Some of it will be under our control and some won't.
With digital, are you seeing greater sales of older albums, the whole long tail thing?
Munns: We certainly see opportunity there and in a lot of cases we are seeing so. Dark Side of the Moon is in the top 30 at iTunes this week. We sell lots of greatest hits. There is unlimited shelf space in the digital world.
We have a program now--it will take us some years--but I want to go right back to 1898, to the first record we ever made, everything we owned, and put it up.
Record executives haven't had the greatest reputation, for good or ill, for a lot of years. Is it changing, or is the culture changing inside the companies?
Munns: It's very unfair now. A lot of that comes from the early days, the pioneering days, the postwar era of music industry, where it was all owner-operated labels and there were some sharp practices. We've been a public company for 30 years. Come on, you don't steal from artists. Don't be ridiculous. We wouldn't be in existence; we wouldn't have shareholders. There is the moral obligation, corporate governance and God knows what, and I take great exception to people saying that we have any underhanded practices.
Having said that, we also argue with people over how many pennies in that dollar you should have or I should. Of course we do. But the thing about EMI is, I can argue with the artist only so many times about who gets how many of those pennies in that dollar bill because if we don't generate that dollar bill between us, none of us get paid. Give me that record, and I'd better sell it. If I don't sell it, I've got no income and you've got no income. So let's argue about the dollar later, and let's just get on with the business of you make the art, and I'll try and sell it.
Do you still hear of it? Do you think the public feels that reputation?
Munns: They don't say that to me... But I think the kids out there, the artists and the creative community, love to point a finger at the noncreative people. Most of the artists whose records didn't sell, they'll never say to me, "I guess it was my album." They say, "You up the marketing."