Lyor Cohen – the Head of Global Music at YouTube and former Def Jam label exec – made a keynote speech at this year’s South By Southwest Conference yesterday. He touched on his 30 year career in the business and the industry at large.
Cohen also addressed the sexual assault allegations against his former partner in Def Jam, Russell Simmons, saying that the allegations troubled him but that’s not the Russel he knew. The overall tone of the keynote was positive about the future of the music business.
The executive even went so far as to say “I believe we’re entering the golden era of the music business.” The comments are interesting – the CD era has always been seen as the “golden era” of the business, allowing labels to rake in immense profits. Others see the early days of recording as the “golden era.”
But with the rise of streaming music, the business has returned to profitability after a 2 decade lull, so the comments have some merit.
As the head of Global Music at YouTube, if he’s optimistic about the future of music it’s something to pay attention to. Youtube is about to launch a new subscription service.
According to Billboard, Cohen said:
“My greatest fear at the time was that distribution was going to be too highly-consolidated between Apple and Spotify. That this was going to be a two-horse race,” he said. “I wanted YouTube and Google to be successful in order to bring diversification to distribution in the music business.”
With new label deals in place for all 3 major streaming platforms – Apple, Spotify and YouTube – we’ll be in for an interesting couple of year in the business of music.