Students Aimée Jogou and Louis Pratt from the global entertainment and music business master’s program reflect upon the sixth of the Music Business Seminars, where they had the chance to listen to Scott Cohen, co-founder of The Orchard, give his talk “The Future is not How it Used to be”.
On Friday November 21st, students of the GEMB program were honored to receive a
visit from Scott Cohen, co-founder of the Orchard. The Orchard is currently the largest
global digital distribution platform, present in 30 countries worldwide. Scott is also a
famous public speaker and lecturer. He travels the world, teaching about new business
models, current trends, and future predictions about the music industry in the digital age.
He is also a visiting professor at London Metropolitan University, and sits on the British
Phonographic Industry Council. Moreover, Scott manages artists, including as the
Raveonettes and the Dum Dum Girls.
For his stop at Berklee Valencia, his lecture was wisely and paradoxically titled: “The
Future is not How it Used to be”. Before jumping into his visions the future, Scott began
by addressing his past. As an entrepreneur, he battled to overcome extreme adversity
before finally succeeding. At one point, he was almost homeless, living out of his office
in order to keep the dream alive.
Some of the most compelling pieces of knowledge he conveyed were focused around his
struggles. Interestingly, his business struggled not because he had the wrong idea, but
because he was groundbreaking in his field. He started to create, with his partner Richard
Gottehrer, a digital distribution platform for a digital market that didn’t exist! This skill
of anticipating the future was crucial, and the success of the Orchard today demonstrates
how well they could see past what was going on at the time.
Scott was determined to persevere, because he strongly believed that the digital era would
come up. As he explained, he was full of fear, but knew what was coming, and his
forward thinking allowed him to rise to the top of this emerging sector.
Next, Scott captivated the class by unraveling the truth behind some myths about the
music industry. The reality is actually not what it seems to be. Four of the most
significant lessons were:
-Everybody can become famous. Actually, there is better chance to win the lottery than
to make a hit. There isn’t enough room for everyone to achieve greatness.
-An artist can succeed by himself thanks to the digital era. No, DIY is dead. The
market is too sophisticated to go it alone.
– The success of an artist can be measured in terms of number of views: In fact, video
streaming companies don’t take into consideration the number of views but rather the
time one spends on the channel. 1 million views is a tiny number.
– Being entrepreneur is a risky choice. This myth was one of the few that Scott
confirmed. He explained that the riskiest thing he could have done was to be an
entrepreneur, but in the long run, it turned out to be the safest choice he made.
Doing what he does best, Scott concluded his talk with his vision of the future. He
concentrated heavily on a concept called “The Attention Economy.” He elaborated that in
today’s industry, the most valuable commodity is the attention of the end user. In line
with this idea, he framed the importance of developing an audience, and using micro-content
to keep that audience addicted to your product. The bottom line is, music is a way
to grab peoples attention, and therefore, a way to make money.
Scott also revisited the importance of forward thinking in the music and entertainment
industry. For him, the emerging Latin American market is one of the most important
developing industries. He encouraged the class to be trailblazers, to seek out and seize the
emerging opportunities. Scott felt strongly that in order to succeed, students should be
ready to do the work that nobody else wants to do, and go places where others aren’t
ready to go.
Overall, Scott was one of the most well received guest speakers to date. Students
connected easily with his familiar and easy going style of presenting. They found
inspiration and hope through his personal anecdotes, and left feeling empowered to go
out and do exactly what they wanted to do. Students were willing to stay long after the
session had to conclude, ready to pick Scott’s brain for every piece of knowledge it could
provide. With Scott’s help, the GEMB class of 2015 feels a bit more ready to take on the
future with confidence, and fight the good fight in order to succeed in today’s dynamic
music and entertainment industry.