Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Final Session II (40 posts, three days, whew!)

Erin: reunion of those of us who have been on the New Orleans retreat, I think kids who have music education and learn to play an instrument might be less likely to steal music because they'll think of it differently and not just something that shows up on their iPod

Martin: I used to steal my neighbors tomatoes and throw them against their house, and in the past few years I've started organic gardening and if I'd caught myself doing that back then I would have beat the shit out of myself.

Audience: are you getting involved in the education system?

Erin: Involved in two rock and roll camps for girls

Nicole: Trying to get a music mentorship program in Asbury Park

Martin: Yes but not directly, running the complementary music program to what happens in the schools. Use the music passport to ride the bus for free, get in for free, and then blog about it and that is your homework.

audience member:

audience member:
kids have no idea what an album is. kids had favorite songs, favorite bands, but NO concept of favorite album by favorite band. is there a value in teaching these kids about sgt pepper and the white album?

Vijay: Well if you want to get into cannon building it should be a shared effort.

Martin: Our band played It Takes A nation of Millions to Hold Us Back live with PE and the Roots, it's interesting to have these concerts where they whole album is played live. Heard Dub Side of the Moon and liked Pink Floyd...whether it's playing whole albums or hearing album redone, really gives you a new perspective

The Final Session

Martin Perna: All the things we're creating in this digital world will be here when we're gone, so they'll have to be lived under or re imagined

Erin McKeown: I feel as an artist my head is going to explode. Looking at some of the artists I've seen speak and stepping way back from this conference into a bigger picture. One of the things I'm seeing is the new DIY is the old DIY. Putting your energy and integrity into it.

Nicole Atkins: Figuring out what I can do with my6 life besides creating songs. Trying to figure out how I can help out in my town.

Martin: How do we cultivate arts experiences in the future. Still a lot of division where people don't think they're in the right place, so the Artist's Passport in Austin goes to high school students so they have a document of their cultural involvement.

Nicole: I'm still taking in the whole copyright, Rhapsody, downloading thing. I buy vinyl.

Vijay Iyer: Ornette Coleman once made the distinction between the music business and the music world. We are not our playlists, we are bigger than that. I'm always interested in how grassroots movements in marginal communities, and how music becomes like water, what will be the next community to re purpose music to suit their needs. What is the future of the music business in terms of diversity? Who is making decisions that affect those communities? Does the future of music provide longevity to artists? What happens to an artist who is 50 or 60 or 70 years old?

Notes from the Twitter feed:
A lot have to do with not-sucking
"If someone names their band Various Artists they'll make a lot of money" (Sound Exchange, Debbie said it today, but I've heard John Simson say it before)
Engagement of fans is replacing sales as measure of success

Jean Cook: Is it?
Vijay: For jazz, festival and club owners are still gatekeepers to fans.
Martin: Label said we should have had more sales based on our club attendance
Erin: Some disconnect between online numbers and people who see me in a club. A little disturbed that online followers has replaced Soundscan.

Kristin Thompson from Twitter: What a musical turning point was in your life
Erin: (played with five heroes)
Martin: spending a month in Cuba, music fills a much more community and spiritual need.
Vijay: Turning point in musical lives or careers? I remember wacking on my sister's piano when I was five. In 97 I traveled to Sengal. A year after I moved to NY...wrote a feature in the Village Voice and that really got the ball rolling for me.
Nicole: When I started writing my own songs when I was 20, I was always in someone else's band. I listened to Big Star and Uncle Tupelo and wrote what I called my "weird songs", but I didn't play them. Then I played them for my friend in Virginia Reel and he said "your weird songs are your good songs, your other stuff is boring."

Tag: Metadata's Growing Role in Artist's Compensation

Peter Jenner-it's a worldwide business, there are thousands of databases that contradict each other maybe what we need is a barcode number on every piece of music that tracks it wherever it goes, somewhere there needs to be a registry which matches the number with a file that has the music that would resolve conflicts. Do we agree that there should be a central numbering database like an ISBN

Barrie Kessler: This is a high volume, low number business. For Sound Exchange we have a fairly significant amount of royalties that is tied up in bad data. I don't think the industry as a whole understands the costof crappy data. Also, unregistered artists we can't find to pay.

Kristin Thompson: Does the problem start with the data the radio stations are using?

Barrie: We're supposed to get all our data from the services, we have spent massive amounts of money writing code deciphering the data that comes in. Then we can decide who we are going to pay and who we need to reach out to.

Audience: Is there a negative reaction to Peter's proposal out there? There is a major label that did digital watermarking.

Brian Zisk: Why should splits be made public? Some crazy is going to track me down if they find out I own 75% of this track.

Barrie: I think we need to get away from the notion that the data has some kind of value. The services around the data have value. The facts of a song, who the featured performer is, who the background musician and the session player is, what the title is; what changes is the owner, the splits. The facts don't change and are public, the other information could be private.

Peter: I think that's what's going to happen, more and more blanket uses and less licensing. There needs to be an archive that is availble to all professional people that has this informatino.

Robert Kaye: A lot of what MusicBrainz is trying to do is this. It is all in the public domain. One of the things I want to do, and Musicbrainz is starting to get the credibility to have these conversations with Sound Exchange and others that we have this information. I don't need to know where the owner lives or what the splits are, but I want the PROs to use this information.

Jim Selby: ISBN is a nightmare, it's a prefix and there are tons of duplicates.

Robert: People ask me why I don't work with the labels more, because their data isn't the same as the people maintaining the data

How deep should you go with the metadata?
Peter: this is why it should grow and grow and grow.

Robert: I'm going to challenge the idea that this is complicated or expensive?
Barrie: How do you ensure the accuracy?
Robert: Peer review, that's why I send it out to all these other systems and databases.
Peter: There is going to be so much more music done online by kids on their phones and mashups, but there is no label to ask for this information

Peter: I think I opened up a can of worms, I doubt in ten years there will be a system that can get an artist his money to France or Africa or India, I think this is a long-term international problem. At the end of the day there is also the problem of getting it travelling internationally, who owns it, licensing it, people who have changed addresses. There are going to be more and more piles of money and more and more people raising their hand saying "It's mine".

stupid computer network is cranky, sorry this will be delayed

We thought 5TB would be adequate, with compression now we think maybe 10-15TB would be adequate. (think about price 10 years ago) Right now we can do what would have cost a million dollars for under a thousand now. There probably is a limit to how cheap they can go. Ed Felten of Princeton has cracked every data security thing within hours (ohh, check out his blog, it's nerdy)

Rick Karr: Sometimes with a sharpie (DRM on CDs, look it up)

Sandy: Soon enough, this will be on a portable infinite library disc. A year ago I walked up to William Gibson and asked him about the implantable library, he said "that's too weird for me."

I have reservations about the cloud, for instance, I can't get online here.

Sandy: I don't trust Google. I don't want them monitizing my information

Audience: At SF Music Tech attitude was no one will want to own data, just access
Sandy: Torrents make up most internet traffic. A lot is video. Still, every one of the subscription services will be a failure.

(and sorry I was gone, but that conference center was a dead zone)

Brian Message and Eliot VanBuskirk

Eliot: Has there every been a time when the artist fan relationship has been as the center of music?
Brian: Not like now, some things in the past

Eliot: Are fan clubs a useful template?
Brian: I think in the past fan clubs have been a fringe part of the industry. Radiohead doesn't have a paid fan club. The notion of having a tribe of followers as an artist is a good one

Eliot: Atlantic Records is making a platform of tools for their artists to use, should that be a standard thing?
Brian: I think it's a part of the spectrum, if you're a young artist that cares about your career you have to be saavy and use some of these tools. It's about engagement and what they do with their careers. We as managers should have artists at the center of what we do.

It's easy as human beings to point the finger at why things didn't happen. Recorded music is still the language between artists and fans. If you pass that control over to someone else, it's very easy to do that, it's not so good. Certainly we have found with a number of our artists, they understand we live or die now by what we do, not the management. ie instead of the Rifles hanging out backstage after a show they go sign merch, fans love it

Eliot: So there is a kind of apathy
Brian: better to sit down with the artist, look at markets, what needs to be done

Eliot: What do artists need?
Brian: Good, honest team members. They have to trust their managers, advisors, label, whatever. It's not so difficult anymore, having a core central team and from that core you can basically push out from

Eliot: Since we're here to talk about artist responsibility, how did the Featured Aritsts Coalition come about?
Brian: FAC is a group of artists coming out of the UK, there was a group of artists signed in the UK with no mention of consultation with artists (huh?) I went out to the Hollywood Bowl and sat down with Radiohead. They said great, we want to be a part of this. I went back to the UK and hooked up with another one of our artists, Kate Nash, and she said, I get this is about artists taking responsibility, what next?
130 artists got together two weeks ago and came up with a statement.

Eliot: So it's not worth hiding behind "oh the labels hate filesharing and we love it"
Brian: There are a lot of difficult issues and it's worth getting involved

Eliot: We have to bring up In Rainbows (Radiohead). What lessons do you think are there for other artists or the industry.
Brian: I think for the band it's about the creation of the music, that sort of unlocked the notion of doing some interesting things. Having come out of the label and going into the zone of being their own bosses. It wasn't about being their own bosses, it was about doing something exciting and challenging. What I love about it is everyone brought it to the table and said "This is what we're going to do." And they live or die by it. Watching that whole process evolve was really special. It wan't about reinventing any wheels."

Eliot: So part of all that was using investors instead of labels, do you think that's the right thing to do now?
Brian: I think there are lots of people who can partner with bands. It could be labels and managers, that might not work for other people. (examples of bands that do it traditionally and use other investments). You have to do it differently.

Eliot: It's a distracting time to be a music fan, there is such a glut of music coming to everybody. How do you think it's possible to cut through all that and keep people's attentions?
Brian: You have to be good at what you do. Part of this whole relationship business between us and fans is that the fan has to love and respect what we do. each artist has to get that level of respect and trust to get above the noise. It really is a classic cultural relationship. Its not about sales sales sales, it's a lot softer than that.

Eliot: So it's not about sales, you have to be a community organizer...it's about the number of engaged fans....what future models do you see that will put this artist fan relationship at the center?
Brian: There are a lot of people doing a lot of great work. build value, get that framework right, i think there could be a plethora of business models sitting on top of that.

Eliot: Can the 360 deal be aligned with this?
Brian: "I sound like Bill Clinton here, depends on what the definition of is is" Sometimes it's good to sell music, sometimes it's good to give it away, there should be no hard and fast rules

Eliot: What lessons are there for policymakers in the States?
Brian: I think it would be great both in the US and UK if the music and technology industries work together. In the 1930s there was a whole bunch of useful legislation in the radio industry here.

Audience Questions

What is the upside to Radiohead not making albums?
Brian: I couldn't tell you what they're doing next
Eliot: I asked him the same thing before this and he didn't tell me

I want to ask about the role of advertisers...some advertisers are signing artists, some corporations might be artist sponsors...
Brian: Goes back to artist and set of values, for some artists being part of a Nike tribe would be great. Kate Nash doesn't want to be part of that, and that's her makeup. It's a personal choice, you set your values as what you do as an artist. It's not about a blanket approach, it's a personal think about values and choices.

Should fans approach bands?
Brian: Like microinvestment. There are a couple of operations that do that.

Ian McKaye and Wayne Kramer

Wayne: take instruments into prisons to teach them how to take things out in non confrontational ways. a way of building self esteem, I'm not encouraging prisoners to go into the music business.
Ian: Music and music business are not synonymous. Music predates language. People ask me a music question and its a business question

Audience: transparency, how frustrating it is when someone says they can't talk about it
Ian: we were kids when we started this company. there was no established business model when we started. we didn't learn from people who perfected the art of ripping people off. we don't have contracts so we don't need lawyers. we still pay royalties on singles from 1981. we have musicians who tell us to stop sending them checks.

Audience: Can you talk about your first instruments
Wayne: I heard something in the electric guitar that I didn't hear in the acoustic guitar. There were also music programs in the Detroit public schools. Music confirms I'm not alone, I'm connecting with James Brown
Iam: I started as a piano player. I started when I was three, playing Louie Louie. I became obsessed with a song called Last Date, I think my babysitter wanted to kill me, I just wanted to listen to it over and over. I was obsessed with Woodstock, my family would drive around and I would look for where I wanted to have my Woodstock and make lists of who I wanted to play...in highschool I became a skateboarder, it was radical and visionary, and then punk rock came into the picture...I saw the Cramps...I joined a punk band and I could play on one string...

Audience: what are you writing now?
Wayne: I had to write my own songs, in Detroit I could work in bars but you had to play top ten, but it started to be a grind. I wanted to play auditoriums and go on tour, and I realized they wrote their own songs and I had to write my own songs. I just finished a score for a PBS film, free jazz, but right now I'm working on a little album, acoustic, something I can drive around the country in a car and play myself.
Ian:I think for me I was incapable of playing other people's music. Growing up around Peter Frampton and the Eagles, I just couldn't get my head around how they played. But hearing the Sex Pistols doing cover songs, doing other people's songs but making it your own.

We would tell people we had a band and we wrote our own songs and people were just, whoa! For me it was a collaborative process. Now in this band the Evens I'm playing a baritone guitar, and we have to really force to think, how can we make this sound good. If I understood what that process is I'd put out a lot more albums.

Daniel Ek of Spotify and Casey Rae Hunter FMC

Casey: Can you tell me how you came up with the concept for Spotify?
Daniel: We started the company in 2006. 99% of music online is illegal. You want to share music with your friends. In 2006 the RIAA went after individual users, similar cases in Europe...I ultimately believe that is wrong. We want to be a music management platform where you can share music with your friends, and find new music.

Casey: How does the sharing mechanism work?
Daniel: Any think on Spotify can be dragged and dropped...make playlists...there are about fifty sites that aggregate Spotify playlists

Casey: You were talking about the really high percentage of illegal music on the internet. In the US there have been a lot of sites that have been make it available first, license it later

Daniel: I spent two years going through licensing content, not only the majors but the indies as well. About 25% of the content on Spotify is indie content. We don't have any sophisticated finding mechanisms but people do find it

Casey: How do unaffiliated/indie artists get on Spotify?
Daniel: We support a lot of aggregators, everything from CD Baby to IODA and the Orchard, hopefully in the future we can support artists directly uploading their music to Spotify but for now you have to go through an aggregator. We want to give the data back to the users, we have a lot of data about where the users are and such

Casey: The actual desktop client is really rugged, there's no buffer time at all, how important was that to you in the design?
Daniel: I think that's been crutial. The fact is we don't offer any discovery mechanism, but we have 4-5 times to usage of any other service, and that's because of speed. We want people to use this as their primary music service.

Casey: And you know what you're getting. Now, Spotify comes with an ad version and a paid version with special features
Daniel: On the paid side, we have better sound quality, we have portability (move it to a mobile device), we have some settings where you can fine tune your experience, there are some play lists you can cache and listen to offline

Casey: Two services I like in the US: Rhapsody and eMusic both have editorial content...any plans to roll that out
Daniel: That's a more philosophical thing for us, other people do that, you will see us open up a range of APIs you can use that will do that

Casey: waiting to see if iPhone Spotify app will be approved or is it too much like iTunes? It was approved, along with Rhapsody.
Daniel: Look that iPhone App store has exceeded iTunes revenue, so ultimately it aids them in selling their devices to have these apps approved

Casey: Predictions for next 5-10 years?
Daniel: I don't do predictions more than 3 years. Hopefully Spotify will be able to get music to your other devices like Nokia or Blackberry. Pay for Spotify through ads or purchasing downwloads or physical merchandise.

Casey: What role do you think Spotify might play in artists revenue streams?
Daniel: not sure this is going to remain the way it is, if you look at my native country Sweden we've got 90% of the population using broadband, 50% are using spotify, Bit Torrent traffic is down. We're growing 50-70% in revenues to the artists month to month.

Putting strain on networks, growing 25,000 members a day even with the new invite only system. Several ISPs have said they've had to add capacity because of Spotify.

Casey: When can we expect a US launch?
Daniel: We don't know. We're hoping for the end of the year, beginning of next.

Nicole Atkins and Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA)

Nicole: what made you a champion of community radio?

Mike Doyle: there is a lot of consolidation in radio now, low-power radio gives people a voice, lets you discuss local issues, low power radio was critical during Hurricane Katrina, and all the arguments against it are bogus. interference argument has been debunked.

Nicole: Mike wanted me to ask you, what's up with you and GirlTalk?

Doyle: He's a Pittsburgh boy, so I have his back. I met Greg Gillis right after Nightripper came out...I admit he samples my favorite band a lot, Earth, Wind and Fire...the way the law is structured today if he had to get clearances from the people holding the copyrights, and i think his work is transformative, what's the process to compensate 300 artists where you've sampled three seconds of each song...as I said, he's a Pittsburgh guy and we have to stick up for each other

take time at the local level to contact your representative in Congress

Nicole: The last think I want to ask you is your thoughts on health care

Doyle: If I were the benevolent dictator of this system we would have had a single payer system yesterday. most areas of the country only have one or two or three insurance companies, that's not competition