•  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Inspired by Lucy Blair’s eponymous midemblog post, today’s panel gathered a cross-section of execs, artists and developers working at the cusp of music and technology. Moderated by The Guardian/Music Ally‘s Stuart Dredge, it featured (left to right) Syd Lawrence, developer with We Make Awesome Sh.; Juan Paz, senior director of digital strategy and marketing for Sony Music Latin; Ethan Kaplan, head of product and technology for Live Nation Labs; cellist and composer Peter Gregson; and Mike Rosenthal, digital strategist for OK Go.

Kaplan began by explaining how Live Nation — a music company, after all — has hired nearly 30 engineers in the past two years. “Engineering is a really hard thing to hire for in San Francisco,” he said; “at any time, our engineers are being courted by the big three tech companies.”

Developer Lawrence, for his part, said his company has worked on some 41 projects this year; the one he’s most proud of is the new Tinie Tempah app, which he demoed onstage. It identifies any 18 of the UK rapper’s tracks, then shows especially-recorded footage of Tinie rapping to it, at any given moment in each track. “We filmed him for five hours up against a wall to make this,” said Lawrence; “he really enjoyed it. If an artist is onboard and enjoying making the app, he’s also going to promote it.”

Perhaps a counter-example was Lawrence’s previous favourite app of last year, which made users dance to hear the new Calvin Harris album. “26% of people who downloaded that app went on to buy the album,” said Lawrence. “But when I showed it to him, he didn’t know about it!”

Paz then gave the label’s point of view, extolling the virtues of technology:

Then Rosenthal commented on OK Go‘s legacy. “The band will go to their graves as the guys who did the treadmill video. But we did one thing on last album cycle where we had 3000 pieces of toast laser-etched by MIT students, for example. OK Go are total geeks, they’re really hands-on. So now, we have an appeal to brands; we almost get more talked about on tech blogs than music blogs. We like being part of maker-y things or hacker things.”

The discussion then moved on to money and development budgets. “There used to be more money in the music industry, period,” said Kaplan. “You’d have $100k for a website before; now you have $10-15k. So it becomes more of a brand/marketing proposition.”

“$100k is the sort of budget brands mention to us”, said Lawrence; “but our average budget for a project is £3200/$5230; some projects go up to £25,000.”

Cellist Gregson warned that music and technology shouldn’t get too close: “there’s no such thing as ‘efficient art’; technology people talk about efficiency all the time.”

Clearly, though, for developers like Lawrence, it’s not all about the money. It’s about fun first and foremost. “I like making things that put smiles on people’s faces,” he said. “As soon as I stop enjoying what I do, I’ll stop doing it. And it’s something we’ve all agreed on on this panel.”

Rosenthal agreed, adding that OK Go’s way of launching projects is to play, “without a preconceived idea of what the result is going to be. Some of their best ideas happen in situ; as such, some of our best projects have come from working with technologists who have the same mindset.”

For Paz, the underlying trend is that “consumers are changing. You see that (gap) when you deal with established acts, but for younger artists it’s natural; they’re very tech savvy — doing hashtags on instagram and so on — and I love seeing that, because that’s how the fans are too.”

Then back to Lawrence, for one of the quotes of the market:

 

Then Rosenthal concluded with a potentially more sobering “sign of the times” trend: “more people downloaded OK Go’s game last year than bought our mp3s,” he said.

Food for thought…

 


  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

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.

Leave A Reply


*