Founder/CEO of global digital media company Strat Americas, Seth A. Schachner discusses the digital future of music & iRadio

Seth SchachnerYou know how it is with all things Apple. They call another Nuremberg-like rally and the faithful rush to hear or log-on to their iPads for the latest announcement about a new machine or update that will change the world. Thing is, in many instances, what Apple does reveal indeed does change our world!

The latest from Steve Jobs’ company is iRadio, a development that Apple’s CEO Tim Cook says will be “the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone.” There is no doubt that Apple Radio is another step into the competitive market of music streaming services and all that could entail for the future, but for what that future might entail, I took to interviewing Seth A. Schachner, the current Managing Director of Strat Americas.

Seth’s Miami-based business provides strategic guidance to global clients such as Sustain Green, a US payment card; Drama Fever, a leading video entertainment channel streaming soap operas and I-Free, the Russian Federation’s leading mobile app & game developer. Schachner spent eleven years with Sony Music, where he held senior digital business development roles in Latin America and for Sony’s highly successful Zomba Jive Records label group in North America. In 2007 and 2009, Schachner negotiated and successfully launched partnerships with Sony Ericsson and the artists Ricky Martin and Shakira, resulting in 2.3 million mobile handset sales and multi-million dollar endorsements for both artists. He also facilitated regional carrier deals with Telefonica and America Movil, Apple’s first iTunes music store in Mexico, so he is a man well versed in this i-stuff stuff.

Can you give me an overall picture, or at least your take on, what this recent Apple Radio announcement could mean.

Well first of all, let me just say that I’m not affiliated with Apple in anyway. I just run my own business development enterprise representing my clients.

So you haven’t ‘drunk the Kool Aid’ of Apple, so to speak.

No, (laughs) I’m working on similar, if identical classes of products and deal with similar clients and products. But I will say, Apple is in a tremendously dominate position here, seeing as they have more the 70% of the digital music download marketplace and coupled with their hardware, and hardware is a huge margin for them, they have a very potent combination for launching a streaming service. I’m assuming over time in their future you will even see multi-platform, multi-app applications say, for other streaming services.

As Pandora and Spotif?

Yes, and I happen to use Spotify myself and think it’s a fantastic service. I’d imagine with like Google Play or Spotify, over time all these services need to be operable with one another. I think if you look at Spotify for example, that’s ultimately the model for the future for record companies. I’m certainly watching all this from that perspective for my interests specifically.

I guess we can assume then, as with everything with Apple, they don’t launch something until they have at least most of the big kinks worked out.

Well yes. Probably a reason it has taken so long is that they are looking at their à la carte  business of people buying music to see how many subscribers they’ll need to pay for the streaming service. It all comes down to taking that very distinct half million credit cards-they have an active live billing relationship with the people who download music-and seeing how and if that can make the streaming service worthwhile.

Every time another of these announcements gets made, I realize I am certainly in the minority wanting to ‘own’ music, books, etc…and even more so because I am a vinyl head. I am well out of the generation that generates sales these days.

Yes, I just dropped my own kids off to camp and they are all about access, having stuff on Cloud. I mean, they know what a CD is, but really, for them it is about access over ownership. It’s a different world to them. The playlist itself can kind of substitute for your CD collection or the niches like vinyl or whatever you are into. But then again, I believe something like Apple launching iRadio is good all the way around. It drives competition. It’s fair to say really that digital music hasn’t had real strong competitors for such a vital source of entertainment that it is.

And living in the U.S. we tend to think this market is all there is.

Yes, that’s certainly true. I sell a lot on the international market. Based in Miami as I have been these past eight years, I work a lot in the Latin American market and it is a totally different playing field than the North American Market.

And the media picture doesn’t just include downloading or streaming music.

Yes, it’s not just music. I think video is very important, the overall media picture is very important in the digital space with Netflix and so many other services to consider. Then there is satellite radio, that’s on the front wave making room for everyone in the radio space to do more and bring about their own competitive offerings, particularly with broadcasters and what can be done internationally.

So the future, through Apple or whomever, looks pretty bright overall you think?

There’s lots of space for alternatives and like I say, a wide open spot for competition. I have represented plenty of companies that tried to make it over the years in the digital space and failed, but there is always room for more.

To learn more about Seth A. Schachner and Strat Americas, visit http://stratamericasonline.com/.

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