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MIDiA Consulting looks forward to 2022

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Photo: Ahmad Dirini

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by Keith Jopling

Our Consulting Director Keith Jopling reflects on how MIDiA's consulting capability has developed over the past few years.

Back when MIDiA first formed, the music industry’s future was still hanging in the balance. Our first consulting assignment (in 2012) was for a major record label, looking to understand how to attract telcos to invest in music content, but by then the ‘telco and music’ era had really come to an end. Back in 2012, innovation in music was essentially missing in action. Spotify hadn’t yet ‘solved’ discovery or curation and was yet to enter ‘hypergrowth’. Meanwhile, Apple and Amazon hadn’t yet launched music streaming services. The talk at the time was of a ‘fragile recovery’. Indeed, that was one of the reasons MIDiA was launched to cover more than just music – we wanted to learn from the growth of video and games and also hedge our bets that, as a research business, we would have a bigger addressable market of clients than just music!

Over the next ten years, everything has changed beyond recognition. All three verticals we cover: music, video and games, have seen unprecedented global growth and an abundance of inward investment and new entrants into these sectors. Even during the hard shock of the Covid-19 pandemic, all these spaces grew. Despite the setbacks in the live music business, the transfer of eyes and ears to live streaming and virtual concerts saw yet another wave of innovation and invention come to the music sector. It is the latest example of how technology and the ‘content industries’ have learned to collaborate in order to quickly generate new experiences and launch new platforms and products - even if they are sometimes far from perfect business models. 

I’m proud to say that MIDiA can honestly claim to be at the heart of much of this activity – as data & insights providers, idea-generators, advisors and problem solvers. Take music creator tools as an example. The sector was thoroughly researched, measured, defined and described by Mark Mulligan and the music research team with MIDiA’s report ‘Creator Tools The Music Industry’s New Top of Funnel’. This research sparked interest, excitement and intrigue from all corners of the music industry and investor community - and led to us undertaking bespoke consultancy projects in this space over the past 18 months.

In similar fashion, we have positioned ourselves as key advisors in many areas at the intersection of music & tech, including live streaming, next generation music & games partnerships, UGC and the burgeoning creator economy. However, our consulting work has also had a deeper purpose, to educate, inform and align the interests of all the various players along the value chain. Our groundbreaking work on ‘Rebalancing the Song Economy’ with Björn Ulvaeus (yes, of ABBA) saw us explore more deeply the implications of the growth of streaming and the ‘song economy’. We have been working with investors and the creative industry to understand how some of the longer-term ‘business model’ aspects of today’s major consumer propositions in music can be improved and ultimately better, for creators especially. This extends to our critical work with Believe/Tunecore on ‘Be the Change, Women Making Music’ and our expanding work in the area of driving further growth in the industry from better use of data, transparency and fairness. 

It’s a great job for me personally because after working in the music industry for 20+ years now, I have no FOMO of any one particular aspect of the industry – we work across all of them! And, our focus on growth, well-targeted investment and improving outcomes for creators means that our work is always positive: we solve problems by looking and moving forward. Because of our unique position and brand, we are able to consult widely and informally with music industry leaders across recording, publishing, distribution, marketing and tech – and increasingly – music creation itself. The achievements we’ve made in music, we aim to replicate to some extent in gaming and video – working on the next phases of growth in those industries, with all of their challenges in subscriptions, advertising, fandom and future demand creation. 

On the consulting side of things, we work in close collaboration with client teams and company leaders, helping them navigate complex dilemmas, market challenges and equipping them with greater understanding. Our output leads to more informed, better decisions and greater organisational confidence. We are honest and work with complete transparency, bringing a balance of challenge and support to the way our clients take on new challenges. We want to make people better at what they do! Our values are captured in these four words: brevity, informality, candour, and rigour. We’ve been (too) quietly busy about all this for the last couple of years but we have finally added our consulting proposition to the website here and have been busy hiring and building our dedicated and passionate consulting team too.

You may not realise this, but MIDiA actually stands for ‘media insights and decisions in action’ and that still represents our ethos as a small firm of curious people who like to bring new ideas to life and see our sectors thrive through better decision making. We're looking forward to 2022, whatever the world throws at society or our entertainment industries, it seems like this is a great era to be at the edge of where tech & content come together.

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