Shifting Sands in the Music Sector

By Vickie Nauman
Founder CrossBorderWorks Advisory
Consulting Firm, and consultant to 23 Capital

My work sits in between the music industry and tech, finance, gaming and consumer electronics companies. This means I often act as a translator – bringing interests to common ground, opening doors, and more often than not, explaining how the many interconnected parts of the complex music sector function together.

I’ve found that the music business is often counter-intuitive to those even one degree removed, but as the shifts of modernization occur and data becomes a global currency, music is now on a growth curve and has sparked the increased interest of investors. Opportunities abound for those interested in buying and selling music rights, investing in early and growth stage companies, and participating in new technologies that are creating efficiencies and tools for this passion-fueled sector. But as the landscape shifts and the industry rebounds from its early 2000’s disruption, the lines are blurring.

Artists and their teams: Artists have many choices for developing their own creative vision, recording music, and releasing songs into the wild. Some find traditional label deals still work for them, while others opt to retain their rights, maintain creative control and use technology platforms for distribution. Once an artist chooses to retain his/her rights, the roles and needs immediately shift. As a result, management companies that guide artists’ careers have begun to absorb functions that used to be bundled in with traditional label deals, extending managers into rights and data management, brand partnerships and developing new sources of revenue.

Traditional stakeholders: Labels are reinventing themselves to be more technology adept, invest further in the emerging artist pipeline as well as those at the top of the charts, and secure powerful positions in distribution, as well as rights ownership. Music publishing continues to grow steadily amidst a global marketplace that can bring over 500 different global royalty streams for a single composition. Legislation is changing in the US and around the world to ensure that both systems and compensation for composers keep pace.

Music Technology: Digital service providers such as Apple and Spotify have licensed millions of songs around the world and have succeeded in weaving their access-based streaming models into our handsets, homes and cars, and are increasingly viewed as a music utility that we couldn’t live without.

Startups and music tech companies are solving problems and connecting all of the pieces above into one sprawling beautiful global industry, while many of the parts are in a constant state of change.

It’s an exciting time for music with double-digit revenue growth, progress in emerging markets such as Africa and India, and technological innovation to replace legacy infrastructure with new.

Join the conversation around investing in music on September 12 in Los Angeles at the Music Finance Forum. I hope you’ll learn more about how the industry works, meet some of today’s leaders and visionaries, and decide where you want to jump onto this fast-moving train.



Vickie Nauman founded and manages CrossBorderWorks, an LA based consulting and advisory firm, where she works with a portfolio of streaming services, finance provider, device manufacturers, start-ups and industry consortiums. She is a consultant to innovative finance company 23 Capital, which focuses on the sectors of music, sports and entertainment. Nauman has expertise across all aspects of digital music - licensing, rights, data, products, music-tech, strategy and international. Her experience spans the earliest days of disruption at RealNetworks/MusicNet to KEXP Seattle, global platform 7digital, and connected device pioneer Sonos.