Meet Cecily Mak: Rhapsody’s Deal Maker

The Bay Area music scene has changed the way music is consumed. Besides the music and the artists, there were and are a series of people behind the scenes who made these huge changes in the way the business of music has been conducted. I’m going to introduce some of the new breed of movers and shakers in the new music technologies.

“I’ve been going to the BOTH since I was a kid.” Our next mover-shaker has deep Bay Area roots. Meet music fan Cecily Mak. Ms. Mak is a fifth generation San Franciscan. Currently she is Vice President and General Counsel of Rhapsody International, Inc., a San Francisco concern, which is celebrating its tenth year…a lifetime, in this digital world.

Rhapsody created the model for the subscription music business, which is more popular than ever before. The company has managed to stay ahead of its competitors for a decade. Rhapsody focuses on original editorial content, and is available across a myriad of devices (70 and counting), including all mobile platforms. For tablets, Rhapsody offers a magazine-like experience that contains features and playlists.

As Vice President and General Counsel, Cecily Mak is Rhapsody’s in-house expert on the legal and licensing aspects of the business. Rhapsody now has over one million subscribers and is spreading internationally through the acquisition of Napster LLC, guided by Ms. Mak. Cecily is quite well-versed in the emerging digital music world. She is the co-author of Music Law in the Digital Age, published by Berklee Press. In 2011, Cecily Mak was named one of the “25 Executives to Watch in Digital Entertainment” by the Digital Media Wire. I saw Cecily at the S.F. Music Tech Summit, and I was very impressed. Not only a business titan, Ms. Mak is a professor, teaching at the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

Cecily is a true music fan. A sampling of her current favorites includes Bjork, Florence & the Machine, Zero 7, Air, Amon Tobin, Groove Armada, The Postal Service, Sigur Ros, Daft Punk, Jay-Z, and Eminem. When asked about the Bay Area music scene, she said, “I think its greatest asset is its diversity and fantastic venues that pull us all together. I am a long-time fan of a few bands in particular — Her Space Holiday, Loquat, and Felonious.”

I asked Ms. Mak about the future of recorded music. Her answer blew my mind: “The future of recorded music will be access-based distribution (in lieu of ‘ownership’). We’ll also see that when consolidation across our industry is executed with integrity and transparency of operations, the rewards will come in the form of growth and innovation driven by increased demand and consumer delight with products and services. These changes will come with much, much more respect for the artist and writer from all angles of distribution — including clearer contracts and overall control of the business, shifting toward the creators and other talent behind the music we love.”

Let’s hope her predictions for the future are correct, especially the “more respect for the artist and writer.” Check out Rhapsody; they offer a free trial.