Industry leaders to examine trends in the music business
By David E. Nathan
Advances in technology have brought seismic change to the global music industry, benefitting both the creators and potential fans, according to a former talent acquisition executive.
“If you create good music – whatever style it is, from straight-up rock ’n’ roll to underground hip-hop – technology has allowed creators to find an audience,” says Susan Dodes ’83, P’19 (left), a former A+R executive at MCA/Universal and Sony/Relativity Recordings. “And the consumer has a much wider choice of talent to discover because anyone can create a good-sounding recording and put it into the marketplace.”
Dodes, a professor of music industry studies at the University of New Haven and owner of SuLeDo Music, a music consulting firm, will visit Brandeis on Nov. 10 for a panel discussion with other Brandeis alumni and friends who are leaders the global music industry. The event will be held from noon-1:30 p.m. at Slosberg Recital Hall.
Other panelists include Dodes’ husband, Jeff Jones, P’19, CEO of Apple Corps, a multimedia corporation founded by the members of the Beatles; Mark Eisenberg ’85, senior vice president of SoundExchange; Jerry Blair ’83, head of Global Entertainment Management; and Donald Friedman ’74, an entertainment lawyer at Grubman, Shire and Meiselas. Professor Yu-Hui Chang, PhD’01, chair of the Brandeis music department, will serve as moderator.
Dodes says the balance of power in the industry has changed over the years, and the largest music labels are no longer the only key players. Platforms such as YouTube and Spotify give artists the opportunity to showcase their music.
“When I started, the major labels had most of the power and controlled barriers to entry,” she says. “Now the artists have the power. They have the ability to write their own song, record it and put it in the marketplace at the click of a mouse. They don’t need larger record companies to nurture their careers and find a fan base.”
Dodes believes that major record labels still have a role to play, particularly in helping popular artists achieve superstar status, but are focused more on image and celebrity than musical talent and distinctiveness of sound.
“I’m not sure that artists like Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen would get record deals today,” Dodes says.