As music creators and lovers, the 15th annual SF MusicTech Summit posed many interesting ideas and questions. Were answers and solutions provided on the spot? Not necessarily. But, sometimes merely being cognizant of the way the industry we love is changing is enough to move with it.
Enjoy this food for thought from some of the leading thinkers in the industry.
Have on-demand apps and streaming services turned us all into mindless music drones?
One of the morning’s first sessions — “Global Mobile and Music,” moderated by Ted Cohen of TAG Strategic — started with shots of Patron for the audience. We’ll go ahead and say it, err… ”enhanced” the panel insights. The concepts they pondered were illuminating, if nothing else.
Topics discussed included the role of terrestrial radio versus internet radio in music discovery and whether those hard-core music lovers out there designing music products are actually designing for the correct audience.
Most interesting, the conversation turned to how services like Spotify, Pandora, Shazam, and iTunes have radically changed the way we consume music. Think of your own musical-listening tendencies. Do you even listen to a full song anymore when the next possibility is just a click away?
As Cohen put it, “I can hear anything I want, whenever I want. It’s maddening and fantastic.”
We can take that concept a step further and posit that the album, as a concept, is dead. When was the last time you actually purchased a full album? Or, heck, even purchased a song? No wonder Apple purchased Beats…in a world where attention spans are short and song purchases are ever-decreasing, streaming, on-demand services are king.
How music can use its influence for good. And, why the benefit concert may be over.
One of the most inspiring panels, “Cause Celebre,” explored how musicians and causes can partner to do good. A musician with a heart of gold can engage his or her fan base in activism to benefit a charitable organization. Moderated by Jan D’Alessandro of Backplane, a platform for private networks to unite around a cause, panelists included trailblazers in the space like DJ Skee and Erin Potts of Air Traffic Control.
The image that most conjure up when thinking about musicians working for a cause is the tried-and-trued benefit concert. But Potts, who co-founded the Tibetan Freedom Concert series in the mid-1990s, actually advocated against it. Her argument was that a benefit concert is extraordinarily expensive to put on, and is limited in duration. There are much more effective ways to get the most bang for a musician’s buck.
Top line tips from the pros include:
Be authentic. Artists, partner with causes you actually care about. Charities, find an artist who is passionate about what you do. As Potts said when relaying a story about a charity looking for a celebrity sponsor, “Bruce Springsteen isn’t always the answer.”
Look for low effort, high impact activities. For example, if an artist is passionate about climate change, it’s much more effective (and has a larger impact) to ask fans to take public transportation rather than for the artist to invest in a green tour bus.
Ticket surcharges are an effective strategy. Most concert attendees won’t think twice about donating an extra $0.50 to whatever cause their favorite artist is promoting, but imagine how much that can amount to over the course of a full tour.
Sell experiences. As a consumer, ask yourself what you’d be willing to pay for a day with your favorite artist. Chances are, the answer is quite a lot.
Merchandise add-ons are a way to make money each show, as well.
Music festivals and the human experience
What was the last music festival you attended? Why did you go?
According to Chip Conley, founder of Fest300 (and many other accolades), festivals bring us the connection we crave that our online lives simply can’t provide. He explained four functions festivals serve; while not primal needs, they satisfy perhaps a more ephemeral longing for meaning in a transient world.
1) Festivals serve to redefine “vacation.”
2) Festivals provide an outlet for the culturally curious.
3) Festivals provide an opportunity to “travel with your tribe.”
4) It’s the ultimate forum to experience the beauty of the human experience.
As Conley says, “Festivals are a magnifying glass on humanity.”
Thinking about spreading your wings and wondering what festival is right for you? Fest300 curates the world’s best festivals and even has a quiz to allow you to find your perfect festival architype.
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