The Seattle Interactive Conference took place Oct, 29th-30th, bringing out all sectors in the digital and new media space including, entrepreneurs, technologists, advertisers, designers, entertainers, online business professionals and thinkers. Music is perhaps one of the most reaching and compelling catalysts for interactivity and we felt right at home discussing progress and innovation with this wonderful cross section of industries. Two of the panels that focused on music showed just how many debates persist and are in need of serious discussion around the innovation in music consumption and interactivity.
Who Owns The Music?
Our own Vickie Nauman sat on this panel to discuss intellectual property and the future of music consumption. She was joined by moderator, Ross Reynolds of KUOW and panellists, Rob Reid, Shirley Roberson of Hughes Media Law Group and Tony Kiewel, VP of A&R at Sub Pop Records.
They were asked if the concept of owning music matters anymore. Ross Reynolds discussed the popularity of the subscription streaming model highlighting the difference between the successes of Spotify over Rhapsody’s early entrance into the market 10 years ago. Although Tony Kiewel began to describe music as having two owners; the artist /label and the consumer, he was clear to point out that the stream means no ownership for the consumer. Vickie Nauman kept it simple by putting consumers in less of a divided situation between ownership vs. rental and into the basic need of “wanting music on their device,” and always taking the simplest option for getting it there when they can.
When asked whether licensing was getting better, Vickie comment that it certainly is where there is already a business model established. Truly innovative services that challenge these new ‘traditional’ models continue to have a hard time.
Is ownership, therefore, a historical concept? The panellists seemed to agree that ownership was not dead. Indie labels are selling more albums than they used to as an aggregate of digital and physical sales due to the power of consumer tastemaking and word of mouth in interactive media. When asked if there are winners or losers in the digital era of post-ownership, Ross Reynolds pointed out the lack of money aggregated through subscription services. Vickie’s repositioning of the debate came in again as she reinforced the importance of ‘access’ in both models to drive opportunity for new and innovative services that will continue to convert consumers and widen the debate.
Digital Music – Revolution or Rebellion?
This panel aimed to discuss the way artists in particular deal with technology. Or, more specifically as described in the intro, whether “rebelling against technology makes music more authentic or if perhaps technology is the key to the music revolution.”
These powerful concepts and strong words were put up for discussion with panellists, Chris Kornelis of Seattle Weekly, Kyla Fairchild of Nodepression.com, Luca Sacchetti of RockStar Motel, Laurel Starns of LSS Mgmt / Dilettante and Josh Rosenfeld of Barsuk Records.
Laurel Starns described the ways in which an artist can do it all themselves and therefore bypass the traditional record label. All the way from recording to finding a team and fundraising, there is a tool for that according to her. However, each artist has to find their way. She suggested that perhaps urban acts or pop stars are better served by a label. Meanwhile, from Josh Rosenfeld from Barsuk positioned that the both the quantity and quality of new artists submitted for deals has increased and urged people to remember that music releases aren’t just competing with other music but also, games, video, TV and social media. It is a time of gluttony for content.
How do we deal with all this content? Kyla, brought up the services that show peer or crowd sourced suggestion as an important shift away from the traditional music critic or journalist. Meanwhile, Luca Sacchetti urged artists to find an ‘ecosystem’ to support them through both distribution set up and touring.
The group was back and forth about the models for consumption. The general sentiment is that streaming provides such small revenue for artists but it is the looming model going forward so it makes sense to engage. Overall, it is obvious that technology is changing the way artists work and the tools they have access to, however, is it really changing the art form or creating a real divide? Not an easy topic for any strong conclusions but a great discussion around what is happening for artists as they face this changing reality.