Holger Christoph, UMG: Digital for the music business – a blessing, or a curse?

From Midem’s blog:

After more than ten years in the music industry, Holger Christoph is today VP of digital sales at Universal Music Germany. We spoke to him about the past and future of the music industry in the digital era, about Universal Music’s experience in that field, as well as about his personal background and how he uses digital music services himself.

> What is next – for Universal Music? – for the music industry? – for the digital music business?
We see streaming subscriptions and cloud access as the next step in the evolution of the digital music business. Amazon has just announced that they will make CD purchases (past and future purchases) available in their cloud as an “auto rip”. That’s a real differentiator compared with other digital and physical retailers. There is also big potential in smart TVs, home streaming devices, mobile and in-car entertainment. There’s a lot of work to be done. Recommendations need to get better, companies need to find smart ways to deal with big data to learn more about their customers, how can the longtail be managed more effectively, what’s the optimal release format and frequency in a streaming dominated age, optimise the marketing mix, etc…

> How are you personally taking advantage of digital music services these days?
Personally I am always looking for new music, new artists and wanted to discover as much as possible. Since 2006 I am a passionate and heavy Last.fm user. I scrobble everything on iTunes, Spotify, iPhone/iPad, via my Sonos, etc.. My personal metadata history is the basis for a powerful recommendation engine and the major source for most of my new music discoveries. Last.fm is also great as a personalised concert calendar. I also like swarm.fm‘s Spotify app to keep track of all new releases. They are utilising everything I hear on Spotify, all the artists I have liked on Facebook and all of my friends activity. One thing I basically do for fun is to edit a playlist for our Digster playlist service, which is called “Best Songs of 20XX”. I started to create these playlists in iTunes almost ten years ago but only now on Spotify I suddenly have thousands of followers who trust my taste as a filter. I am convinced that editorial filters, tastemakers and clever recommendation engines will play an important role moving forwards. It will be interesting to see how successful the new Spotify update which is rolling out since beginning of this year will be under these aspects. The recent announcements by Beats for their Daisy project also focus on these aspects because users expect more than just a search function.

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