Music Biz 2024: President Portia Sabin Talks Growth, Luminate’s Indie Retail Sales Expansion & More

NASHVILLE – The Music Business Association conference kicked off successfully in Nashville this week, with the annual gathering bringing together more than 2,100 music industry professionals representing attendance from over 750 companies and more than 30 countries, the trade group’s president, Portia Sabin, announced on Tuesday (May 14) in her annual address on the state of the Music Biz organization.

What’s more, Sabin said proposals for programming at the conference, which is crowd-sourced from industry executives, saw a 30% increase this year, “reflective of everything our industry wants to discuss — from hot topics like AI, gaming, and social impact, to perennial favorites like synch, music and money, and marketing. And don’t worry, we still have the critical but non-sexy topics like metadata and neighboring rights.” 


With a full-court press of panels and seminars on many of the industry’s challenges and opportunities, Sabin also reported that about 325 speakers/panelists are set to take part in this year’s conference. She additionally noted the the trade group’s membership has grown by 106 companies and organizations since last year’s gathering, with Deezer, Audiomack, Pirames International, SonoSuite, the NMPA (National Music Publisher’s Association) Louisiana Entertainment (a division of Louisiana Economic Development) and Toronto Metropolitan University joining the fold.

Beyond the convention, Sabin reported that the organization continues to stage its Music Biz Roadshow event series in places like Dallas, Miami and Huntsville, Ala., with programs for local indie musicians that have included topics like “Tech Solutions in Music,” “The State of Independent Distribution” and “Where’s My Money and How Do I Get It?” Those events have featured companies like the Mechanical Licensing Collective, CD Baby, Bandcamp, TropiSounds, Songtrust, Symphonic Distribution, Syntax Creative, Switchchord and Music Audience Exchange. “If your company wants to be a part of a Roadshow this year, please let my team know – they are some of the most fun and inspirational events we do and we’d love to have you join us,” Sabin said.

Besides going on the road, the trade group has also created a new virtual series, Music Biz Passport, which explores a different international market each time. “These events are meant to connect music business executives from the U.S. with international trendsetters so they may both learn what does and doesn’t work in these communities, and build new partnerships that will ultimately make our industry stronger,” Sabin elaborated, adding that upcoming events will focus on local music industries in Finland, Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

On the good works front, Sabin reported that Music Biz has partnered with the Music Health Alliance to set up the MHA Mental Health Fund. Since its launch, backed by a $50,000 contribution from the SCARS Foundation — an organization created by Sully Erna and the band Godsmack to support mental health initiatives — the fund has grown to $355,000 and served more than 500 music industry professionals through 5,246 outpatient counseling and psychiatry visits.


Meanwhile, the organization’s scholarship foundation has raised $60,000 and given out 12 scholarships to deserving music business students to the tune of $5,000 each, Sabin reported, thanking the scholarship committee for their hard work as well as “Lisa Robinson and Aaron Tochini for going above and beyond.”

Finally, Sabin celebrated another big accomplishment the trade group achieved during the year: persuading Luminate to abandon its implemented plan to unweight physical sales data, thus changing the chart methodology. Following the initial change to unweight sales data, Sabin, the retail coalitions and other stakeholders pulled together to partner with Streetpulse to collect that data from indie stores. After indie music retailers began boycotting reporting to Luminate, Music Biz worked with the coalitions to negotiate a deal that brought indie store data back into the Luminate system. As a result of that effort, the number of stores reporting to Luminate has more than doubled to 315 stores, up from the 140 retailers that previously reported to Luminate before the imbroglio.

“I want to thank everyone who was invested and made their voices heard on this issue, from retail stores to labels to distributors to individual artists – and of course to Rob Jonas and Luminate for coming to the table and being good partners,” Sabin said. “Those who’ve been around since the NARM days know that physical retailers are the original heart of Music Biz, and this year’s Record Store Day was another off-the-charts success… proving yet again that physical is a vital part of our industry.”

Sabin closed by noting that the conference is moving to Atlanta next year and will take place May 12 to May 15 at the city’s Renaissance Waverly Hotel. “It’s a great property that’s close to The Battery and Braves Stadium; and we’re especially excited that we were able to buy out the entire hotel, meaning everyone there will be a Music Biz attendee,” she said. “Sounds like sleepaway camp, right?”

Powered by Billboard.

Related Articles

Back to top button