Lyor Cohen believes that short-form video poses a major threat to the music business. He also thinks it might be the industry's savior.
On this MBW Podcast, Cohen – Global Head of Music at YouTube – explains his fears over short-form video platforms that fail to push users into deeper engagement with music and artist content.
"Short-form video that doesn't lead anywhere is the most dangerous thing I've seen the music business face in a long time," says Cohen.
Cohen believes that, if left unchecked, the rise and rise in music consumption on this type of short-form video platform could become one of the music industry's "biggest crises to date".
(Cohen doesn't mention any particular platforms, but it's worth noting that there's been a lot of headlines written on MBW this year about TikTok's failure – so far, at least – to launch a connected music service to its main platform.)
Cohen argues that YouTube's approach with its YouTube Shorts product offers an important distinction: A platform that hooks you in with short-form video – but then nudges would-be fans to longer/deeper audio and visual content about artists on both YouTube and YouTube Music.
Cohen lays out three problems he sees growing to a head in the current music business:
Problem No.1, he says, is an expectation for modern artists to spend a significant amount of their time, creativity and energy on certain social media platforms – platforms that in Cohen’s view rarely lead to deeper fandom amongst consumers;
Problem No.2, he says, lies with consumers themselves – and his concern that the next generation of fans aren’t currently delving deep into artists, their stories, and their catalogs;
And Problem No.3, says Cohen, lies at the door of record companies, who are struggling to break artists with regularity in this current digital environment.
He believes the migration of fans away from long-standing social media platforms towards short-form video services is a major opportunity for the music business to foster true fandom in a vast potential audience globally.
But he also warns the music business to drop its current "euphoric" state, and think hard about how short-form video's role must evolve to best serve the next generation of fans and artists.
The MBW Podcast is supported by Voly Music.
The Music Business Worldwide Podcast is supported by Voly Music.