Behind the Music: Inside the World’s Biggest Music Agency

Meet former Facebook strategist turned Creative Artists Agency music and podcasts guru, Glenn Miller.

Glenn’s role sees him working with some of the biggest music and sport brands in the world, and he’s joined us today to talk digital innovation in music, the industry’s tough time during the coronavirus pandemic and why what we all really need is a good old boogie…

Glenn, talk us through what’s been happening out there. How severely has the pandemic affected the music industry?

The industry has done its best to be nimble, rescheduling shows and postponing music releases, but we need mutual support. The government’s primary focus has been football and pubs, but live music contributes £4.5bn to the British economy and supports over 200k jobs. That’s why the #LetTheMusicPlay initiative started – it’s a great example of the industry coming together in support of live music. Over 1,500 artists and thousands of venues, agents, managers, promoters, production companies and others have signed a letter seeking urgent help from the government to survive and we hope that this letter gets the attention it deserves.

The music industry has to work together, first and foremost to ensure the safety of fans and artists, but also to ensure that there is a music industry we can enjoy and return to once we have navigated this pandemic, whether that be recorded or, down the line, live music. The industry is built on passion, art and community. Music is a human need; it helps us make sense of the world. One thing is for sure: we will all need a good old dance once this is over.

How do you think all this will impact venues in the long term?

Without the necessary planning and action, the long-term impacts are scary, with the industry at risk of its own pandemic. It is reported that 90 per cent of grassroots venues face closure and many festivals may not be able to return next year, which is incredibly sad and detrimental to our culture. The industry is doing all it can do to ensure there is a live music scene to return to, and to protect the long term, we have to ensure venues can survive in the short term, whatever their size.

What innovations have impressed you during lockdown?

Lockdown has definitely helped drive faster innovation, with so many models disrupted. For example, livestreaming has become a very important channel for artists to connect directly with their fans. The livestream experience is now shifting away from free-to-view streams with low production to high-production, unique interactive experiences where fans are buying exclusive virtual tickets.

Take a look at NCT 127’s livestream concert, which featured AR, integrated fan videos and real-time engagement with fans’ questions and comments. Over 100,000 fans watched the live concert through a variety of virtual ticket packages and bought special merchandise, including a fanlight that synced to the show as if you were there. Pretty cool! I am also excited to see how Tomorrowland reimagines their festival digitally.

How have consumers’ music patterns changed during lockdown?

These have shifted considerably as we adjust to life from home. Many people’s work commutes became the time it took you to walk from your bed to your laptop. At first there was a natural decline in streaming music because we were adjusting to our new routines that cut out some of our daily music moments. But as we settled into new routines, our music habits have started reverting, with music video views jumping due to people listening to more music on their computer or TV. People have also become more nostalgic in their choices in order to find familiarity and maybe to help motivate them through these tough times.

What about discovering new music?

Discovering emerging artists is never easy, let alone during a pandemic. The same goes for finding a new podcast you might be interested in. Fans continue to discover artists in different ways, whether that is via a friend or through a Discover playlist on Spotify, but that unique moment of finding someone through a live gig has gone away during this pandemic. Whether you go to one show a year or attend a festival a month, new music is everywhere and connecting with an artist live is irreplaceable.

Virgin Money have launched the Virgin Money Emerging Stars programme, which is designed to identify, support and promote the UK’s most exciting new music artists. Read more about that here.

Have there been any new developments that have surprised you?

It’s clear the world misses live music, and this will be felt more than ever during the summer festival season. We are starting to see innovative events like the drive-in Virgin Money Unity Arena this summer, offering a chance for a ‘new normal’ live music experience, in line with social distancing guidelines. It’s very exciting to see an arena offering festival-quality production in a great outdoor location with platforms allowing groups to attend together, relax and dance like they would at a regular show. The industry needs this now more than ever.


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