Music 2.0

Scooter Braun and Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino Talk Music Industry Disruption at Google Event

“When the digital revolution happened, the music industry was the first one to shit the bed."
 Scooter Braun and Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino Talk Music Industry Disruption at Google Event

Mr. Braun did not wear a Mickey Mouse shirt.

Betabeat arrived at Google’s Big Tent event at the Skylight West building just in time for the Trends and Transformations in Music panel. Moderated by Billboard editorial director Bill Werde, the topic du jour was how the Internet and social media have ushered in a new era of music production.

In attendance were Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino and none other than Scooter Braun, Justin Bieber’s talent manager and the man credited with discovering America’s favorite heartthrob. (Sadly, there appeared to be zero Beliebers in the audience, as no piercing screams rang out during the program.)

Mr. Werde kicked off the panel with a raucous slide deck, promising to only curse a few times during the panel after informing the audience that, “When the digital revolution happened, the music industry was the first one to shit the bed.” Can’t say he isn’t honest.

After a conversation with Julia Nunes, a ukulele player who got her start on YouTube, Misters Braun and Rapino took the stage to discuss how their industries–record lable management and concert promotion, respectively–have shifted with the advent of social media.

Mr. Rapino argued that the Internet has actually been greatly beneficial to the concert promotion business, because it allows people to connect with music and bands in ways they couldn’t before. “The Internet is the greatest thing to ever happen to live music,” he said. “Social media is the greatest thing to ever happen to the concert business.” Given his enthusiasm, perhaps Mr. Rapino should consider signing up for the Internet defense league.

“The way I look at the Internet is different than the way the media describes the social revolution,” Mr. Braun chimed in. “The way I look at it is: it saved me a lot of time. I look at social media as a way to interact on an intimate, one-on-one basis.”

Mr. Braun argued that creating that genuine connection between fan and artist is what makes artists successful, and without social media that connection wouldn’t be possible.

“How many of you in the audience think Justin Bieber is manufactured?” he boldly asked. A bunch of hands timidly went into the air. “That is what I have to battle every day, because people assume success on a major scale is manufactured,” he admitted. “But what I’m trying to make people understand with the Internet is if it is manufactured, you have no chance. [The fans] see everything.”

Mr. Braun also didn’t hold back when it came to his opinions on the old school industry bigwigs. “I think the only reason the music industry is slow is because you have people who are older who don’t wanna lose their jobs, who don’t what they’re doing,” he confidently told the ground. “And I’m probably going to get into a lot of trouble for saying it, but I don’t give a fuck.”

Say what you will about Mr. Braun, but his swag is pretty self-evident.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com