With things starting to get a little quiet here in Cannes it was time for a rallying cry for the music industry and who better to deliver it than the pioneer of ambient music, Jean-Michel Jarre. There was no light keyboard and no stunning backdrop, just a mic and some rather uncomfortable looking white chairs. It is pretty easy to dismiss a rich musician when he starts telling you to value your art when the new music economy doesn’t seem to be helping but actually JMJ was right when he said “We were existing before electricity, and we will exist after internet.”
This came 24 hours after Marc Geiger from William Morris Endeavor told the music industry to embrace streaming as in the next 15 years it will be a $100 billion dollar business and this is a huge opportunity for artists to once again make money. Geiger’s keynote was designed to stand out, in most of the other discussions about streaming the music industry has stood up and moaned about the new subscription models starving it of money, but people were less bullish after this session. It is quite easy to make bold statements when they come with the caveat that they will come true in 15 years, after all who is going to remember to call you up in 2029 if your prediction was wrong, but in many ways who cares if Geiger is right or wrong. What he was saying was embrace change, understand that it takes time and use that time to make sure you are delivering the right product for the audience, there will be mistakes made but natural selection will ensure that the best survive and thrive.
So who is right. Well they are both right. JMJ is right to want people to value music more but that will only happen if the creators embrace the new business models preached by Mark Geiger and work with them rather than begrudgingly use them in the hope that eventually the old days will return.
Watch both keynotes, marvel at how JMJ has not changed his hairstyle in nearly 30 years, and make your own mind up.