360 Model Comes Round Again

Visitors at this year’s London Calling conference will either come away with a clearer perspective on "the 360-degree model" or leave Earls Court even more confused.

Three of the eight panels on the first day of the June 19-20 conference and trade fair – now labeled "a 360-degree event for a 360-degree industry" – will at the very least touch on the subject.

Discussion topics include Madonna leaving Warner Music to throw in her lot with Live Nation; why music companies have embraced the all-encompassing deal out of necessity; whether lawyers know enough about it; and – maybe most worrying for the artist – whether any music companies have the in-house skills to deliver it.

For those still fuzzy about exactly what the 360 model encompasses, there’s an opening-day keynote session and a panel saying the whole thing is nothing new. It will discuss how managers have been operating these all-encompassing deals since the sketchy ground rules of the rock ’n’ roll business were first drawn up.

The number of conferences springing up seems to have sharpened rather than sated delegates’ appetites for repeatedly discussing the same subject. But, given the time spent talking about secondary ticketing and the anticlimactic end result, they may as well have spent those panel sessions enjoying a communal singing of "Que Sera, Sera."

The ticketing issue demonstrated that however much the music business may like to believe it can derive some collective clout by presenting a united front, the truth may be that it speaks with too many voices to be remotely coherent.

Only time will show how the 360 model will pan out. However much harmless fun it is, no amount of conference discussion will likely define the deal or shape its future.

Last year’s London Calling reportedly attracted 3,500 delegates from 45 countries. The event started in 2005.

In that short time, it’s secured the support of AIM – the independent music companies’ association, which holds its AGM conference on the first day – and a host of other U.K. trade organisations.

Other trade organisations include The Entertainment Retailers Association, which stages its own annual get-together called the ERA New Music Conference (June 19) within London Calling.

This year it’s broken new ground by inviting AEG Europe president and chief exec David Campbell, who has driven the success of London’s O2 arena, to make the keynote speech.

He’s the first from outside the record and retail industries to address an ERA Conference.