Q&A: Parlophone and EMI

Miles Leonard, president of Parlophone and Virgin A&R labels and Mandy Plumb, senior vice-president of marketing at EMI, discuss the current state of the music industry from music discovery to the role of online.

Marketing Week (MW): What are the most important methods for consumers to discover new music?

Miles Leonard

Miles Leonard (ML): The record labels and the radio stations don’t dictate what people are going to hear. No longer are we the gatekeepers of what people should be listening to. That period of the music business finished a long time ago and the final nail in the coffin was when digital platforms started to appear, through Facebook, social networking and YouTube. Now the gatekeepers of what people listen to are the people, the music fans. Radio stations’ playlists are predominantly made up from research of what their audience wants to hear now.

What’s exciting is that there are so many ways to discover new music. It is not just about picking up NME and Q magazine, which it was maybe 10 years ago. Kids are online, sharing music and discovering music on small blogs.

Mandy Plumb (MP): There are so many different platforms that are available for different genres of music, but obviously Facebook is really key to it, because that’s the one social platform that all consumers are plugged into. But there are blogging sites and various music sites where you can start to develop an awareness of a new artist.

MW: So how influential is radio now?

ML: Radio is still a very valuable medium for reaching a broad audience. It’s vital to breaking artists and it’s vital to the industry, to sell records. It’s a platform where you know that being on a playlist – depending on the playlist and the genre of music – is the best and quickest and farthest-reaching way of getting to an audience when you want to sell records.

Mandy Plumb

MP: It can take a campaign to a completely different level, and it still plays a very important role in how we break artists.

MW: How does the increase in online platforms affect the ways artists are marketed?

MP: Because of the nature of how people are consuming music, we work on artists’ visual imagery and are very conscious of doing that at a rate that feels comfortable to the artist, so there is a natural journey that the consumer feels part of, rather than being a sudden change because they are a part of a major label. It’s important that the people who discover an artist early are not forgotten. That’s how you build loyalty in the fan base.

Having online social platforms creates a bigger opportunity for us in being able to engage the consumer and feel part of the journey they are going on.

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