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The two music maestros were invited by ad agencies MRM Worldwide and McCann Worldgroup to share their views on how technology is changing music, at advertising festival Cannes Lions. Also present was Intel’s Johan Jervoe, who earlier this year recruited Will.i.am as his company’s “director of creative innovation”.

Said Jervoe of the collaboration: “Will.i.am has a very similar innovation mindset to that an engineer needs: trying together to figure out how to get to the next big thing, to do things differently.”

William explained that “I’ve been with Intel even before I’ve been with Intel,” as their processors control most computers. “Now, the thing I create the music on is what I send it out on, and what people enjoy it on. That wasn’t the case in 2000. That’s why this is the perfect marriage.”

Said Machover (who was presented as a ‘composer, inventor & educator’ but is best known for his musical research work at MIT): “the great thing about technology is that it’s the most malleable medium we have. A way to take a dream and get it out there and create it. The tools that exist now are great, but if you can push them further, you’ve got real power in your hands.”

MRM accordingly goes so far as to call technology “the new creativity,” said CEO Marc Landsberg. “Almost every marketing interaction with consumers today involves technology. One is content creation; the second is content distribution, for example via wifi or smart TVs; and the third is content experience: how we live the technology. Technology allows you to connect in a really human way.”

When asked what defines an artist, Will.i.am replied: “It’s someone who’s open-minded enough to be inspired, and then to able to regurgitate that and let it out. Be they scientist, ballerina or whatever. Taking an idea and turning it into reality is art.”

As for marketing and social media, the hyper-connected popstar’s view is just as clear-cut. “Sometimes you can market so much that you mess up communities. So i prefer to say ‘communiting’, for when you care about who you’re taking to. TV was social media back in the 80s, because everyone talked about it. Now, communities are growing. Wherever you’re from there’s a commonality between everyone: people are all gravitating towards an idea. They’re all saying we want to get involved with the pulse, which is that which moves culture; and that is youth.”

That said, advised Machover, getting out of “the pulse” can often help creativity. “Each year kids feel more comfortable with tech, creativity is just part of what they do,” he said. “But you want to have an idea first. I like to encourage people to have those ideas whilst they’re not at their computer, as the computer may distract them from having those ideas.”

He added that invention is not always deliberate. “We didn’t invent Guitar Hero by trying to create it,” said Machover. “We (at the MIT) were working with Yo-Yo Ma; we wanted give him a tool to turn his cello into a whole orchestra, but measurements were all wrong. Through trial and error, we established you could measure gesture, so thought we could use that to make anyone a musician.”

Will.i.am then elaborated on technology’s enabling collaboration, often with unexepected results. “Yesterday, you made something and then sent it. You collaborated in the studio. Now, you can make it and collaborate on it on the internet, and people experience the music on the internet.” And focusing on online collaboration, the artist mused “what if people could see that (flow) ? I can’t wait for that to happen: realtime collaboration, people experiencing that.”

And that, as they say, was a wrap.


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About Author

James Martin

James Martin is Head of Social Media for Midem organisers Reed MIDEM. This includes defining and rolling out Midem's social media strategy, editing midemblog, influencer outreach, developing Midem's fanbase of 75,000+ music professionals and more.

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