Warner Music Group CEO Robert Kyncl shared his thoughts on the relevance and future of traditional music labels in the current music industry landscape during a Q&A session at the Code Conference. Despite the rise of digital platforms and indie music distribution platforms, Kyncl argues that labels still play a crucial role in the industry. He draws a parallel between the advertising industry and music labels, noting that while ad agencies were predicted to become irrelevant with the emergence of Google’s AdWords, they ended up becoming major customers of platforms like Google. Kyncl believes that labels provide the same value in the highly distributed and complex music industry by helping artists sustain their careers and navigate the noise.
During the conference, Kyncl also discussed the impact of AI on the music industry, predicting that the industry will be at the forefront of exploiting AI’s potential and addressing the regulation and monetization of AI usage by non-rights holders. He draws a comparison between the explosion of user-generated content (UGC) in the past and the potential infringement of copyright by AI-generated content. Kyncl suggests that solutions implemented to address UGC, such as YouTube’s Content ID system, can serve as a blueprint for addressing AI-generated content. He emphasizes the importance of approaching AI thoughtfully and ensuring that artists have a choice, rather than rejecting or fighting against the technology.
Kyncl also stated that the streaming audio business is unlikely to experience the same problems currently facing the streaming video industry. He highlights the growth of the subscription model in the music industry, with 700 million people worldwide now enjoying premium streaming experiences. Kyncl believes that the opportunity for further growth lies in emerging markets and rising GDPs, making the audio streaming business more resilient.