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Making Media Work Through Music - Digital Future Series Conference
The Centre for Content Protection (CCP) conducted the Digital Future Seminar Series to engage the digital distribution industry
By Mi2N
(more articles from this author)
2009-12-14
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The Centre for Content Protection (CCP) conducted the Digital Future Seminar Series Dec 2 to engage the digital distribution industry at the Asia Television Forum(ATF) in Singapore.

"The DFS Series seminar was an opportune moment to discuss digital business models across the film, TV and music industries," says Isa Seow, Managing Director, Centre for Content Protection.

Speakers reiterated that paramount to the success of media industries is the role of music. "It is critical 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. It costs USD $200 million to make a movie, yet the majority of movies that go out are losing money. The challenge and opportunity lies in the fact that 16% of movie revenues come from cinema, and the remaining 84% from home entertainment. "Our collective futures depend on (our ability to adapt to) the digital transformation that's going on," Ellis told the industry players gathered at the conference.

Five times Golden Rooster winner Li Qiankuan emphasized to the audience of media industry players how the integration of music with regional and national features was crucial for a merger between western and eastern music. Dick Lee referred to his personal experience in championing the inclusion of Asian elements in pop music. He cited Japan for becoming the undisputed leader of Asian pop culture by picking up the best of American pop culture and "refitting it to Japanese size."

Qiankuan, who is the President of the Shanghai International Film Festival's Jury Board, and Xiao Guiyun, member, China's National Film Approval Board, later conducted a film masterclass and workshop Dec 3 with MDA support. The masterclass provided an understanding of China's film industry followed by an 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 in the audience to "make your master sound awesome." She bemoaned the fall in the number of movies with soundtracks. Philip Wu, Exec Chairman, GRID MMS, conceded that it is a very tough game to live off music. Go around and get yourself known, he advised, submit your lyrics 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 Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, Bernard Lanskey. He observed that the educational opportunities here are immense from an international perspective. "We underestimate the professional dimension of musical work," he said. "Training in 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 nearly wiped out songwriting in the 1930s. "Now again we're looking to the film industry," he stated. Panelist Malcolm Young finds that the challenges are emerging more rapidly than the answers are coming back, with the film industry downturn predating the current economic downturn. Young is soon to produce The Durian King, a zero-budget film set in Singapore.

New media are taking eyeballs off traditional media, says Wu. This makes it imperative that the movie industry work across all industries. Creating legitimate business models rapidly 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 Dir(Asia ), International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) recommended the ISO standard to identify country of origin and the first owner in every commercial sound recording, and the embedding of the ISWC(International Standard Musical Work Code) to protect composers.

Frank Rittman, Regional Legal Counsel, MPA - Asia Pac, 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 in different 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 to leave 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 of security," says Michael Hosking, CEO, Midas Promotions. He suggested introducing 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 is an umbrella of local talents and a movement to appeal to the Singapore audience. The website will launch in the first quarter of 2010, detailing agents, 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 a robust intellectual property regime and a pro-business regulatory framework.

Event: Digital Future Series Conference at the Asia Television Forum Theme: The Role of Music in Film and TV; Date: Dec 2

Location: Suntec City Convention Centre
Speakers included: Film producers and directors; Charles J. Sanders, Esq. Songwriters Guild of America; Nina Ossoff, songwriter; Mike Ellis, President and Managing Director, Motion Picture Association (MPA) - Asia Pacific; Li Qiankuan, Chairman of China Film Association and Head of the China Film Foundation; Dick Lee, composer; Frank Rittman, Regional Legal Counsel and Deputy Director of the MPA - Asia Pacific; Leong May Seey, Regional Dir(Asia), International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI); Michael Hosking, CEO, Midas Promotions; Yeo Chun Cheng, Chief Information Officer, MDA; Bernard Lanskey, Director, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music; Isa Seow, Managing Director, Centre for Content Protection (CCP); Philip Wu, Executive Chairman of GRID MMS Pte Ltd; Allan Nicholls, Department of Graduate Film, Tisch Asia; Lim Sek, |Chief Executive, Music and Movement (S) Pte Ltd

Event: Masterclass and Workshop with China Directors Li Qiankuan and Xiao Guiyun, Dec 3
Masterclass Theme: Understanding the Film Industry in China
Workshop Theme: Film and Partnership Proposals
Location: Ngee Ann Auditorium, Asian Civilisations Museum

About CCP: Established in 2007, the Centre for Content Protection (CCP) is a consortium committed to shaping AsiaPacific's digital future through innovative technologies that provide secure ways for consumers to enjoy anywhere, anytime access to their favourite movies and television programmes.

As a neutral yet authoritative source of information on the latest content platforms and protection measures worldwide, the Centre fosters awareness and cooperation amongst various academic, governmental and industry organizations as well as consumer groups in order to implement best practices and solutions region-wide.

Primary Advisory members are Astro, Fujitsu, Motion Picture Association of America, Nagravision, NDS, ST Microelectronics, Thomson, Verimatrix and Walt Disney Pictures.

Related News from Mi2N:
» CCP At Asia Television Forum - Digital Future Series Conference


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