Speaker Profile Q&A: Tracy Gardner, SVP, WMG

Tracy Gardner is SVP of Global Business Development & Strategy at Warner Music Group (WMG), based in London. In her role, Gardner is charged with evolving WMG’s global strategy for the audio and video streaming space. She leads digital strategy and policy relating to developments in business and law, while liaising with WMG’s international affiliates and licensees. Gardner drives business relationships with WMG’s key digital service providers; during her time at WMG, she has negotiated and drafted ground-breaking deals with the industry’s premier digital players, including Spotify, Apple, YouTube/Google, Rhapsody/Napster, Deezer and Pandora. She has also been involved with various WMG acquisitions including Parlophone Label Group, X5 and most recently, Spinnin’ Records.

Gardner is speaking on the keynote panel on Growth Hacking Global Streaming at NY:LON Connect on January 23.

:: What’s been the most exciting digital music trend or technology for you in 2017?
Voice technology might be an obvious one, but it is particularly fascinating because it is engaging an entirely new audience with on demand streaming services. It’s reaching a demographic that hasn’t previously listened to music via streaming. And we’re seeing listeners on these platforms engage with genres that typically under-perform within streaming services. 

For example, in the US we’re seeing that country music is over-indexing on voice activated streaming. We’re also seeing users of voice activated streaming services engage at a very high level. And high engagement is a key metric so we expect that voice will drive lots of new subscribers and be effective in driving retention.

:: What music startups have caught your eye in 2017?
While not technically a start-up, our collaboration with Techstars is proving really exciting. Techstars is a venture capital fund that has a long track record of investing in tech and media sectors, but is now working with Warner and other music companies to create its first incubator focused on music. It’s a great sign to investors of the health of music start-ups.

:: What do you think the biggest digital challenge will be for our industry in 2018?
Our challenge is to identify, track and monetise the stratospheric levels of engagement with our music. Fans have never had so many ways to access music. But we must make sure that rights holders receive fair payment from the ad-supported ecosystem where much of this music consumption is taking place if our much-needed investment in artists is to be sustainable in the future.

:: Which trends and technologies are worth keeping an eye out for in 2018?
Improved content ID.  There is a new crop of rights management technologies that are making it easier and more efficient for rights holders to identify content across the internet. These technologies also offer enhanced analytics that allow us to take a deeper dive into engagement.

I’m also excited about AI. We’re in the very early days of this technology and but we’re leaning in to learn more about how we can use it effectively. There’s definitely excitement right now across the business for AI. 

:: Which question/topic would you most like to see debated at NY:LON Connect?
It would be interesting to discuss how streaming services can move into the next phase of subscription by segmenting users and creating experiences that appeal to certain demographics.

For example, classic rock is not prominently featured on the leading streaming services, but we know that more than 30 per cent of subscribers are over 40. There is so much that services can be doing to target these different user bases and exposing them to content that matches their tastes.