Digital Future Series Conference at the Asia Television Forum — 3 Dec 2009
CONCLUSION OF MUSIC CONFERENCE
AT THE ASIA TV FORUM, 2 DECEMBER
“CCP – INTERIM REPORT”
Event: Digital Future Series Conference at the Asia Television Forum
Theme:The Role of Music in Film and TV
Location: Suntec City Convention Centre
Speakers included: Film producers and directors; Charles J. Sanders, Esq. SongwritersGuild of America; Nina Ossoff,songwriter; Mike Ellis,President and Managing Director, Motion Picture Association (MPA) – AsiaPacific; Li Qiankuan, Chairmanof China Film Association and Head of the China Film Foundation; Dick Lee, composer; Frank Rittman, Regional LegalCounsel and Deputy Director of the MPA – Asia Pacific; Leong May Seey, Regional Dir(Asia), International Federation ofthe Phonographic Industry (IFPI); MichaelHosking, CEO, Midas Promotions; YeoChun Cheng, Chief Information Officer, MDA; Bernard Lanskey, Director, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music; Isa Seow, Managing Director, Centrefor Content Protection (CCP); PhilipWu, Executive Chairman of GRID MMS Pte Ltd; Allan Nicholls, Department of Graduate Film, Tisch Asia; Lim Sek, Chief Executive, Music andMovement (S) Pte Ltd
Attendance:190 (minus 40 turned away for dresscode)
· Future of film, music and TV business largely intertwined
· Industry is affected by piracy and digital music transformations
· TV and films are potential channels for artists, but also among other channels such as live performances
· Singapore is young and has much room to grow in this space. Particularly, it will take awhile to stimulate music production in this stage of economic development
· Government to play a role to stimulate freedoms, funding and creativity, but cannot be expected to do everything
The Centre for Content Protection (CCP) conducted the Digital Future Seminar Series Dec 2 to engagethe digital distribution industry at the Asia Television Forum(ATF) inSingapore .
“The DFS Series seminar was an opportune moment to discuss digital business models across the film, TVand music industries,” says Isa Seow, Managing Director, Centre for ContentProtection.
Speakers reiterated that paramount to the success of media industries is the role of music. “It iscritical that musicians can earn income,” said Mike Ellis, President, Motion Picture Association(MPA) Asia Pac. Music can help media industries to grow and vice versa. Itcosts USD $200 million to make a movie, yet the majority of movies that go outare losing money. The challenge and opportunity lies in the fact that 16% ofmovie revenues come from cinema, and the remaining 84% from home entertainment.“Our collective futures depend on (our ability to adapt to) the digitaltransformation that’s going on,” Ellis told the industry players gathered atthe conference.
Dick Lee’s personal experience in championing the inclusion of Asian elements in pop music, andfive times Golden Rooster winner Li Qiankuan’s point of view on how musicaffects the theme of film emphasized to the audience of media industry playershow the integration of music with regional and national features was crucialfor a collaboratio
n between western and eastern music. Lee cited Japan forpicking up the best of American pop culture, “refitting it to Japanese size,”and becoming the undisputed leader of Asian pop culture.
Qiankuan and his wife XiaoGuiyun later conducted a film masterclass and workshop Dec 3 with MDA support.The masterclass provided an understanding of China ’s film industry followed byan overview of opportunities for partnerships and proposals in the industry.
Looking to the film industry
Panelist Nina Ossoff, who has been writing successfully for movies and TV, including American Idol, advised musicians inthe audience to “make your master sound awesome.” She bemoaned the fall in thenumber of movies with soundtracks. Philip Wu, Exec Chairman, GRID MMS, conceded that it is a very tough gameto live off music. Go around and get yourself known, he advised, submit yourlyrics to the movie industry and put up your talent for review.
Singapore is one of the easiest places to make networking connections, says the director of Yong SiewToh Conservatory of Music, Bernard Lanskey. He observed that the educationalopportunities here are immense from an international perspective. “Weunderestimate the professional dimension of musical work,” he said. “Trainingin professional awareness and maintaining quality should be your priorities,”he told the listening students of music and film in the audience.
Cutting to the recession,Charles J. Sanders, Esq. Songwriters Guild of America, who moderated a panel,recalled how Hollywood came to the rescue when the Great Depression nearlywiped out songwriting in the 1930s. “Now again we’re looking to the filmindustry,” he stated. Panelist Malcolm Young finds that the challenges areemerging more rapidly than the answers are coming back, with the film industrydownturn predating the current economic downturn. Young is soon to produce The Durian King, a zero-budget filmset in Singapore.
New media are taking eyeballs off traditional media, says Wu. This makes it imperative that themovie industry work across all industries. Creating legitimate business modelsrapidly would enable survival on ever-emerging new platforms.
The Singapore opportunity: Networking and self-belief
Panelists pointed out that Singapore is uniquely placed in world terms. As a modern bilingual society, it is uniquely connected to South East Asian countries. The Singaporean awareness of the global community is unparalleled, says Lanskey. “What will drive internal passion is networking and self-belief.” He compared Singapore to where Paris was in 1900, or to Vienna in 1750. “Change can happen fast. The speed at which Singapore ’s evolving is phenomenal.”
Wu touched on the country’s three strengths: trust, technology and the financial system. “We might not make a Titanic,” he said, “but there are niche areas we can come into with these strengths: post production and songwriting,for instance.” There are many who dare to dream, but many other Singaporeans are pragmatic. Singapore has not reached the critical mass of talent and we should aspire to reach that, said Wu.
“We are always calling ourselves too small and berating our lack of a long history. We must think big;we must think differently,” observed Joshua Simon, a student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
Spell out rights: IFPI
As music is the primary driver of the entertainment business, be it karaoke or nightclubs, it is important to clearly spell out rights, concluded the panel on copyright and legal issues.
Leong May Seey, Regional Director (Asia), International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI)recommended the ISO standard to identify country of origin and the first ownerin every commercial sound recording, and the embedding of the ISWC(International Standard Musical Work Code) to protect composers.
Frank Rittman, Regional Legal Counsel, MPA – AsiaPac, suggested a centralised licensing corporation which would allow a producer to pay a single fee, rather than needing to conform to varying structures in each country of release. Complicated sets of rights exist separately indifferent countries for the two pieces of intellectual property in music: the underlying musical composition, and the performance. For instance, said Sanders, US law has so many anomalies, despite being a pro-copyright country.Compulsory licensing exists, but once the song is released, anyone can make a cover of it. The licensing also does not extend to synchronization rights.
Embrace local artistes
The panel on Asia strategies recommended that Singapore embrace local artistes. “There’s great music in Singapore; you just have to play it,” observed Allan Nicholls,Department of Graduate Film, Tisch Asia (Singapore). A Stefanie Sun had toleave the country and be endorsed by Taiwan before she got accepted here.
“We are not hungry enough as a nation. That said, I’d rather have the security of Singapore, than professional footballers and recording artistes if they come at the cost ofsecurity,” says Michael Hosking, CEO, Midas Promotions. He suggestedintroducing a radio station that played local music.
To meet the challenge of changing the Singaporean mindset, Lim Sek, Chief Exec, Music & Movement (S)Pte Ltd, said that the Republic of Pop has been started with MDA support. It isan umbrella of local talents and a movement to appeal to the Singaporeaudience. The website will launch in the first quarter of 2010, detailingagents, contacts and a step by step guide for talents.
Talks are on with MediaCorp to get airtime for local talent, said Yeo Chun Cheng, Chief Information Officer, MDA, and the second round of proposals for music has just opened. “But I don’t think the government is the solution to everything,” he said. “Be careful of government officials telling you what is to be done.” The solution was instead, to be “really,really good at what you do.”
The DFS seminar is an initiative under the MoU signed with the Media Development Authority(MDA) Sept 9, as part of MDA’s agenda to develop a conducive business environment with arobust intellectual property regime and a pro-business regulatory framework.
Contact: Junaidah Arifin, Assistant Coordinator, Centre for Content Protection, 21Science Park Road, Science Park 2, The Aquarius, Office Suite11, #02-01,Singapore 117628
Office : (65) 67772854 Fax: (65) 6255 1838
Mobile :(65) 8201 4421(Isa Seow, Managing Director) / (65)91830593 (Junaidah, Coordinator)/ (65) 91282125(Anna Thomas, Communications Dept)