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No business like show business – financial innovation in the music industry - 21 May 2024

We hosted a panel discussion on the future of the music industry, featuring industry experts Merck Mercuriadis and Willard Ahdritz. Organized by the House of Innovation in collaboration with the Swedish House of Finance and the Polar Music Prize, this event offered insights into financial and technical innovation in music.

The music industry is a heavily concentrated USD 30 billion industry where multinational corporations rely on legacy industry structures and business models to monetize the creative efforts of artists and songwriters. The industry has traditionally been resistant to innovation and entrepreneurship, but recent years have seen significant developments in the distribution and consumption of music, making it more attractive and accessible to the wider investment community.

This panel discussion - a joint event between SSE House of Innovation and the Swedish House of Finance in collaboration with Polar Music Prize – highlighted financial and technical innovation in the music industry in a discussion with two trailblazers:

Merck Mercuriadis – Merck is a British-Canadian music industry executive, artist manager, and entrepreneur. Mercuriadis has managed artists including Nile Rodgers, Beyoncé, Elton John, Gun N’Roses, Iron Maiden, Pet Shop Boys, Mary J. Blige among others. He is also the Founder and CEO of Hipgnosis Song Management and Founder of Hipgnosis Songs Fund, a London FTSE 250 company, and Hipgnosis Songs Capital in partnership with Blackstone. The Companies have invested more than USD 3 billion in iconic songs.

Willard Ahdritz – Willard is a Swedish entrepreneur and SSE alumn who is best known as the founder of Kobalt Music Group, a technology company that has revolutionized music rights management system for 600 publishers and 25,000 artists including Paul McCartney and Lorde to manage music rights and royalties for over 700,000 songs. Kobalt Capital, an extension of this work, is a private equity music rights investor that further solidifies Ahdritz's commitment to reshaping the music business by providing financial support to creators and fostering a more equitable industry.

The discussion was moderated by Anders Anderson, Associate Professor of Finance at SSE and Board member of Polar Music Prize.

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