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  • Writer's pictureEric Doades

Conference Recap with Dmitri and Tristra

This week, Tristra Newyear-Yeager and Dmitri Vietze take you on a retrospective of our annual Music Tectonics conference in sunny California.

We'll reminisce about the energetic atmosphere of the Carousel at Santa Monica Pier, dig into our unique AI Alley, and reveal the magic of our innovative sound chairs. Then we turn our attention to the international stage with our discussions with Trade delegations from Korea and Norway.

Hear wonderful insights, like those shared by speakers Andrew Batey, Adam Rabinovitz, and Michael Pelczynski, as they dissected data-driven understanding of people's habits. Dae Bogan and Britnee Foreman shared with us their fervent discussions on metadata and its potential to empower artists. We grappled with thorny issues, such as streaming fraud, and celebrated encouraging trends like the surge in revenue for independent artists.

Finally, we'll gaze into the future of music, discussing the disruptive potential of AI. Join us as we navigate the space where music and tech intertwine, promising a future filled with exciting possibilities.

Looking for Rock Paper Scanner, the newsletter of music tech news curated by the Rock Paper Scissors PR team? Subscribe here to get it in your inbox every Friday!

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Episode Transcript

Machine transcribed

0:00:10 - Dmitri

Welcome back to Music Tectonics, where we go beneath the surface of music and tech. I'm Dmitri Vietze. I am the founder and CEO of Rock Paper Scissors, and who are you?

0:00:21 - Tristra

I am Tristra Newyear-Yeager, the chief strategy officer at Rock Paper Scissors, and I'm kind of surprised you don't know who I am.

0:00:28 - Dmitri

I know who you are.

0:00:29 - Tristra

I was just letting you do what you basically are.

0:00:33 - Dmitri

It's been a while since we've been on the podcast together. Yeah, this is great, we get to work together, and then when we get to be on the podcast, it's kind of like playing. I know it's probably worked for you, but for me it's just.

0:00:43 - Tristra

No, it's fun. This is some of the fun part of the job.

0:00:46 - Dmitri

And we are just back from the Music Tectonics conference, another fun part of the job. We were in Santa Monica, california. You've heard all about it, regular listeners but hey, maybe there's one new listener today and we need to tell them. We do a conference every year in sunny California On the beach. We had an awesome venue. People freaked out about the amazing beach house where we held the event. There was business happening there.

It's not like it was just a big party, although we did have two or three parties. Yeah, we had three, at least three parties. But we thought it would be fun if Tristra and I just talk a little bit about our experience at Music Tectonics. It's not going to be the same experience as everyone else that was there, because we were running sessions and running around and having clients there and all that kind of stuff too, but it was great. We started off at the Carousel at Santa Monica Pier, as we always do with our Music Tech carnival, and I have to say Tristra, I think this year reached another level. There were more people there. I think people got what we were there to do.

0:01:47 - Tristra

Yeah, the vibe was really great and everyone was trying to talk to everyone else, so it was nice. It wasn't just clusters of people who already knew each other hanging out and enjoying the afternoon together. Everyone was going around it very purposefully, introducing themselves and trying to find out who was there and meet new people. So it was a very warm and welcoming environment.

0:02:07 - Dmitri

I think you nailed it because I noticed some different energy there and I thought it was just more people showed up to the first day. This time, I think, because we sort of went from being a one-day conference to saying, you know what, let's give you a little bit more on the day on the front and a little bit more on the day in the back, and now it really feels like it's a three-day conference. And I think last year those who came to the carousel realized no, this is the deal, this is the meat. You know. Like, come here. It's kind of our startup day. We have a lot of demos from startups, all the people who competed in the swimming with Narwhals competition, our music tech startup competition, plus our trade delegations from Korea and Norway, plus the finalists from the startup competition and a few others that were just like wait, that's too cool, I need to be there for this stuff.

0:02:48 - Tristra

We had a little.

0:02:48 - Dmitri

AI alley too, we did. Yeah, this is the first time we did that and it's the latest theme during the demos of some of the companies that are doing really cool stuff and AI companies like Daki and Decibel and Infinite Album and Melodia, which was super cool.

0:03:06 - Tristra

And we had the big fluffy chairs and yeah.

0:03:09 - Dmitri

The sound chairs. Sorry, this is for those of you who weren't there.

0:03:12 - Tristra

There are these giant egg-shaped chairs that are all fur-lined on the inside Washable, they told me. I was like I'm a mom. This is frightening to me. They're like don't worry, you can take it all out and wash it. But these very cozy chairs and they have these sort of surround sound experiences that were very, very fun.

0:03:27 - Dmitri

Solo dome. They were called.

0:03:28 - Tristra

Solo dome.

0:03:29 - Dmitri

They were one of our immersive experiences as well. But I think you're right, and it wasn't just that more people showed up for the opening carousel party, the quack media group opening party in the demos, but they were doing something different. They really did. There did seem like there was an energy where people were like, ok, this is our icebreaker to meet everybody, let's go and meet everybody. So there was a lot of purpose, which was pretty awesome. Good point.

0:03:51 - Tristra

I'm going to embarrass you a little bit, Dmitri, but I kind of think the founders and organizers of an event set the tone. And this is definitely you. This is your vibe, this is your approach. If you've ever encountered Dmitri at a conference, you're so great about going up and walking up to people you don't know and not really thinking, like what can this person do for me? Just like who is this person? What do they do?

And so that kind of spirit of curiosity and friendliness has, I think, seeped into the entire event, if I can be so bold which is great for someone like me who doesn't like to walk up to strangers, even though I really want to know what they're doing and who they are and what kind of crazy music tech stuff they're up to.

0:04:27 - Dmitri

I'm not embarrassed about that, I'm proud of that.

0:04:28 - Tristra

He's blushing. If you could see him, ladies and gentlemen, you'd see he's blushing. My pants are blushing. That's kind of weird. Now he's blushing.

0:04:41 - Dmitri

So that was super fun and kind of.

our major big day is the next day, which was at the Beach House, also in Santa Monica, but literally on a beach with a pool and cool event spaces with windows, with views of the beach and so forth, and that's where we had about 18 or 19 different sessions, all sorts of topics. Were there any themes when we talk about the sessions or anything that stood out for you? And again, I think we have a slanted view, having worked the conference as opposed to just ended it. But what were some things that you walked away with?

0:05:14 - Tristra

Well, I really I was expecting to come away thinking much more about things like AI, newer formats for music or new spaces that music's appearing, and what I walked away with that was kind of interesting was more about sort of models of the way we listen to music right now. So a lot of talk about streaming, about streaming fraud, basically about how the sausage is made, and I think we've gotten past this phase of being so relieved that there was a format that finally saved this huge downturn in the music business and in artist royalties and gotten to a point where we're like, wait a second, how exactly do we want to move forward? What exactly is going on here underneath the hood? What do we need to be thinking about? Could we build this better?

So I was on a panel with Andrew Beatty and Adam Rabinowitz and Mike Pulchinsky, and they've all been thinking very hard about fraud and artist models and how to, how to, can we read, can we design a better back end for the music business? That isn't so easy to game, and the answer is was was a little bit disappointing in that it's kind of like, kind of maybe, but the fight is pretty much constant to keep ahead of some of these extremely sophisticated players who are using streaming as a way to often to launder money. But, that said, it was really interesting to hear about all the data that you can use to understand people's habits, like everything from phone position to listening time to you know all the things we'd expect, so I found that really, really interesting, and so that was a very thoughtful discussion.

0:06:54 - Dmitri

So Andrew Beatty's from BeatDap, yes. Adam Rabinowitz is from Bumi, the AI creation platform, and Michael Pulchinsky was recently VP of strategy at SoundCloud and has his own consultancy. So they were in. That session was called the billion dollar problem emerging solutions to the music industry's streaming fraud conundrum. So what else? What else kind of gave you the sense that we're solving, like current models, challenges. Was there other sessions like that too?

0:07:22 - Tristra

Well, I'm, you know, I'm kind of biased because I moderated two sessions, so they're the ones that are most on my mind.

0:07:26 - Dmitri

but you attended the entire session.

0:07:29 - Tristra

I did.

I was paying close attention. I was not messing around with my phone, not trying to talk to the person next to me. The other session that really stuck with me was Dave Bogan of the MLC and Brittany Foreman, who is a brilliant data thinker, and they were both really passionate. You know, you think about metadata. You're like, oh, panel about metadata, oh my God, but it wasn't like that at all, and both of them are, you know, beyond being extremely smart, they really care, and so they were really part of a theme that I heard throughout the conference of well, how do we give it back to the artists? Like, how do we, how do we give artists more control, whether it is direct to fan sales, whether it is, they should own their data and it shouldn't be behind any firewall, which is something Dave spoke really, really passionately and eloquently about, and I left just thinking about, you know how there's all these folks in the industry that are really fighting hard to give artists back a lot more control and autonomy. You know, the independent artist world has been increasing. Revenues flowing to artists who aren't on a label or who are self-managed has been increasing year over year. I mean, if you're curious about this, go look at Mark Mulligan's amazing research and media. They have a ton of information about this. But what?

What I was really hearing this year is we have to make sure artists are really the center of everything. I think we thought a lot about in terms of platforms. Obviously, there's always going to be labels and there's a role for them. But this, this passionate commitment to and not just I hate using the phrase empowering artists because it's become a cliche and it means nothing anymore but really giving, putting everything back into the artist's basket so that they can make decisions about how to make their music reach whatever audiences they want to reach, and then to to collect whatever you know, whatever revenue or royalties flow from that relationship. So it was. It was really exciting. I mean, I almost expected people to kind of jump up out of their chairs and pump their fists in the air and go like run to the barricades for the artists, but it was really really wonderful to feel that energy.

0:09:43 - Dmitri

It does take a special person to to take something like data and turn it into a call for action. But I think the issue is music is in such disperse, disperse, disparate, uh, fragmented places in in in internet land or streaming and app land that you don't really know what's going on. It's in so many different places it's very hard to understand what's moving the needle.

Or, and the other thing is, for most independent artists, the, the signal is very weak, like to even see enough of a signal that something good is happening, that you might want to do more of something like you know, like, oh, my social media posts led to more streams, or my advertising campaign did this, or my live shows did this online, or my live streams or my YouTube's or whatever it is. The signals are so weak and then, if you don't have the date at all, you can't really get a read on what should I do more of or what should I try differently, or what worked for this other artist. So I think the connection here is it's not really about data, it's about getting enough information so that you can find the insights to figure out how to navigate a career as an independent artist in all these places.

0:10:56 - Tristra

Yeah, and getting enough data so that you can actually get paid and like connect all the plug in, all the all the wires that will get you paid, and that is. That's not easy to do when you're just a person by yourself. It's crazy how complicated all of this is even for, and music is relatively straightforward when it comes to distribution et cetera, compared to some other art forms.

0:11:17 - Dmitri

But were there specific forms of data or types of data that Day and Brittany talked about on the untangling music data for the benefit of all, or was it more top level?

0:11:27 - Tristra

Well, it was. We were specifically talking a lot about these black boxes, where they are, why they're there and how what's inside them. And you know, I heard from a different panel I believe was was Amadea Chopin from Pex mentioned that a great deal of the money in black boxes are 60% or something along those lines comes from hip hop tracks. So you know, in some ways the industry has really failed oh sorry that's a little harsh, but you know has failed a large group of creators who are making very, very popular music but haven't understood how to use the system to get what is rightfully theirs. So that's a really telling. So in some ways we were talking about how the role data plays in in breaking, you know, shining light into these boxes, breaking them open. And you know we were kind of contemplating could we imagine a better world where a black box didn't exist? And the answer, sadly, is no, because we live in the real world. But the answer is also we can make them way smaller.

0:12:37 - Dmitri

Yeah, so that session that Amadeya was on was illuminating artist deals. I know Peter Harvey from Roy Fai was there, the artist Jay Monty was there, Salinas Barrington was there as well and, yeah, Peter helped us co-curate the focus on fairness and artist deals, which was I think it's always a great, great topic. It's interesting. We've been talking about how it feels like transparency is kind of inevitable.

Like the more that music is trackable, the more that we're on technology platforms where data exists over time and you know PEX is a part of this too more and more there's more opportunities to kind of see what is actually happening.

And actually I was at a MLC event here. I just moved, as my as those of you who came to Tectonics know, because I mentioned it, I've just moved to Portland, oregon a couple of months ago and last night there was an MLC event with the local chapter of the Grammy Academy and I was, as I went around to meet as many people in the room. There were tons of hip hop and R&B folks in the room, but what I realized was a lot of the people in the room collaborate with each other and I was just thinking about the importance of what the folks at the MLC talk about a lot, which is you got to know who the splits are going to, what the percentages are. You got to know that, like earlier, because a lot of that, a lot of that so-called black box, exists not just because the streaming services don't know who to pay, but the people who created the music don't always know who to pay because there's so many different co-writers, co-producers and all that kind of stuff as well.

0:14:08 - Tristra

Yeah, there's a lot of paperwork, so to speak, and that's that's tough. If that's not really you know, you're not in this business necessarily to administer complicated deals and details. The story of Jay Monte was pretty noticeable.

0:14:26 - Dmitri

I've heard you mention him, but what happened there?

0:14:29 - Tristra

Well, he's a really interesting guy. He, you know, he's a Christian rapper, which is a very interesting market, and he got a major label deal and then the label, the person who signed him, kind of moved on. He got a new. You know, there was a new team at the label that was working with him and they really just didn't know what to do with his music. So they kind of put him on ice for years and he couldn't release anything and it was extremely frustrating and not to mention impoverishing, right.

So so Jay is super scrappy and a really smart entrepreneur and started to do other stuff, like he started to make clothing and then eventually he got out of this deal and he used some of those entrepreneurial smarts to be basically his own manager and put out his own music and it was pretty impressive. But he, he had some really hard times along the way and he's such a kind and well-spoken and thoughtful person that you just, you know, sympathy comes really naturally when you hear a story. But you know, he even he did. He did everything right, right, he got the major label deal, he went through all that and still it was he wound up having to do it himself. So it was pretty, pretty interesting story.

0:15:46 - Dmitri

Yeah, cool, glad we had the artist voice there as part of that panel as well. So it's interesting that I mean kind of the way that you're talking about your experience at Music Tech Tonics is you were sort of expecting to see some shiny new objects and you ended up hearing about some of the nitty gritty. And maybe that's because we put you on panels that are hard for me to operate.

0:16:03 - Tristra

You like to put me on the metadata panels.

0:16:07 - Dmitri

The fraud and the.

0:16:08 - Tristra


0:16:12 - Dmitri

But it's so funny because my experience, and maybe this is just the challenge of any conference, of getting around to seeing as much as you can, which you can't, you know, unless you're popping in and out of everything, when you're not really absorbing very much, it's hard to get the whole vibe. But I actually had a different experience which has got a funny I mean the AI thing was very present, you know, obviously I'm the director of the conference and so I have some influence on what content's there.

But we had not, at the beginning, pretty laid into the process. We had not planned on making AI a central focus. You know, I don't like to chase like the latest trends. You kind of have to listen to see what's on people's minds and regardless of what you program, you end up finding what was on people's minds, regardless of what was on the official panels. And as I was reflecting on this year's conference, I was like so what was the thing? Because? And so I looked back at each year and I realized there kind of was a thing that was on everyone's mind from the beginning.

So in 2019, tiktok was on everybody's mind and I remember that was the hallway conversation. And then in 2020, obviously the pandemic hit and live streaming was on everybody's mind. And there was this. Everyone thought live streaming was here for good. And then another an extra 400 live streaming platforms came into existence and many of them disappeared. Yeah, and then the next year, 2021, I would say metaverse was the thing, because people went from oh well, live streaming is so cool and we saw the emergence of Roblox but also other Fortnite and music in Fortnite and things like that were happening as people had a little more bandwidth other than just turn on the camera and start shooting a home concert or something like that.

0:17:48 - Tristra


0:17:49 - Dmitri

And then 2022. Last year was clearly NFTs I mean Web3, but really NFTs was the topic that, and it was one of the topics that people either loved or loved to hate. And so you know, even though not everyone was on board at the conference with it, it was on everybody's mind and it felt very similar to the live streaming and metaverse things, where it was like really popping and then really declining quickly.

0:18:15 - Tristra

And this year, it was definitely AI.

0:18:17 - Dmitri

I mean, even even you know, the hallway conversation were frequently about kind of like well, what should we do about AI? Or AI is changing everything in a good way, or AI is changing everything in a bad way, and so we obviously had several. In the end, we had several sessions. I mean, we had an AI demo thing where we got to see different companies. It was actually a kind of a reprise of a session we did in 2019 called AI's Got Talent, and the point in 2019 was like so where are we with AI? Can AI really do these things? And honestly, compared to then, I mean that stuff was very rudimentary back then and what we have this year obviously is much more complex. So we had Daki and Decibel and Infinite Album and Melodia and Wave AI all do demos, which was super cool and very different use cases, like each one totally different. Wave AI actually wrote a song on the spot there, including lyrics.

0:19:16 - Tristra


0:19:16 - Dmitri

Which was pretty, pretty fun to see, it was a song good, I mean, it was really an artist tool. It wasn't like hey you can release this, but what I mean by that is like the lyrical component is pretty cool to see in action. It's fun to you know where this AI tool is helping you write lyrics, and she showed how it could do kind of like genre specific dialects and lyric writing, which is kind of cool.

That's interesting, yeah, you can start changing the grammar to certain you know English dialects, if you could call them that and it follows along with you. You know it starts spitting back lyrics and then you know there was another session on well, music meets AI navigating a positive future was one, and I feel like there was one other how has AI transforming music? And I guess, just to put some meat on this conversation, a lot of what I heard was like a conversation about either, or like is AI going to win or are humans going to win? And you know, is this creating a lot of competition? And are we going to flood the streaming services with this new kind of AI assisted or AI generated music? And to some extent, you know obviously we've seen the news with, you know, streaming services talking about limiting monetization and based on how many, how many streams you're getting, you know, under 200 or 1000, whatever number it is you're not even going to be able to monetize at all.

But the thing that I kept going back to and I said it in a couple of sessions I literally, as the, as the conference director, I would just stand up and be like, but wait, I really think there's a new category emerging, just like Hollywood is not dead because of TikTok or YouTube. You know people are watching Netflix and Hulu and Disney and HBO as much as ever. I think it sure seems like it. Anyway, people sure as hell are talking about it more than they used to. And TikTok and YouTube is just a different category. You know, it's like these short form things are. Maybe they're competing for time, but they're not really competing, they're not eliminating. A whole other category Feels like the emergence of AI music is creating a new format. Maybe it's a new art, maybe it's a new commercial asset, I don't know, but it's. But it's definitely a new format and I think that's. That to me was the if I was to walk away with kind of like, where did the conversation go at MusicSex, onyx? And that to me, was a big one.

0:21:47 - Tristra

One other thing that you and I talked about a bit was how excited we were Not, I mean, we kind of started out this conversation talking about the carousel and how everyone was very open to meeting new people, but in general, I felt like the industry was opening up a little bit.

One great example was we have we have a wonderful startup event at UMG every year, a startup boot camp, and this year I really really appreciated how many UMG folks got on stage, some from the publishing arm, some from other aspects of the label, getting up there and talking about what makes a difference to them when they're getting pitched, like what they look for in startups, what they need from startup partners, what they're looking for when they are considering licensing and all these this great information, some of which was really eye opening for me and really thought provoking, and they just shared it so openly and so like candidly and it really felt like they were ready to have a conversation, that you didn't have to like beg and plead and approach them with a pitch that they're they're open to hearing what you have to say. You just have to make it make sense for them and be useful to them and that's completely cool.

0:22:56 - Dmitri

Absolutely. I mean, I you know, just so people understand. Our third day we start off at expert dojo and do kind of a schmooze but also a fireside chat with Tatiana Seresano from MIDI research. We should come back to that church because, I think that was also a pivotal conversation that I want to get into. But the UMG thing they did it last year.

This year they brought us into an actual studio, recording studio across the beautiful, it was sound and amazing and people were excited to be there as well appointed and super cool and um, and we kicked off with an open mic where everybody in the room got to introduce themselves and it was amazing to see the diversity of people but also companies that were there and all the different ways in which people are working in music innovation and music tech, from from hardware to software, from B to C to B to B, from VR to trading cards to an actual card game, physical card game.

0:23:46 - Tristra

Yeah, that was really cool to see.

0:23:48 - Dmitri

Modernization, tools, optimization Also. It was really really quite a mix and and and definitely you could see people were vibing with realizing what an amazing, unique group of people were there. But I agree, umg, under the leadership of Christina Pimentel and Bill Ganyan from Universal Music Group's innovation group, really stepped it up this year with the way that they program that by doing exactly what you said. Um, I know Christina had Jay Granis from um, universal Music publishing group up there and I felt like he was dropping knowledge that you never hear directly from someone like that. And specifically, let's come and talk to us, not when you're ready to license music, but before you build your product, so that we can make sure whatever your plan is for your product is even licensible. Sometimes it's not that we don't want to do it, we literally can't. You know, like, depending on what you're trying to do, how you're utilizing music or what music you're hoping to utilize, if it requires both the master and the publishing side, there may not be an easy way for anybody to grant that license.

0:24:52 - Tristra

Yeah, that was really exciting to hear someone from publishing speaking so openly, frankly and um, with such detail about their process and trying to figure all this out and I. That was really eye opening and really, really valuable.

0:25:09 - Dmitri

And the other cool thing about the whole, the whole um, um, um, umg structure for their startup bootcamp at Music Tech Tonics was they did actually have they selected four startups to pitch. Uh, and it wasn't like a competition, it wasn't like pitch for a license or anything like that, it was more just like let's get some direct feedback right here and that was super cool.

So we had Karen Allen from Infinite Album, the adaptive video game music software company. Kevin Daly from Remedy, which is a way to monetize um premium streams when they're layered on video on, but on your own video as a label or or manager, artist or something. Um. And then Kristen Daniel was the one with the music guessing card game, like physical card game called. Heard it all before, but what I was going to say was so they all pitched for a few UMG folks and there were a couple of standout things there.

I mean oh, versus, also versus, which was just on Music Tech Tonics as well. You'll hear my interview with Sean Lee and Kim from versus there. But uh, nils, um, uh, nils Coaster, who's a senior director of digital strategy at UMG, uh pointed out like when versus was pitching, that if a virtual artist fan experience can't scale quickly and affordably, it's it's, it's pretty much going to die before it even becomes a partnership with somebody like UMG or any other label, and so that was a really interesting thing. Luckily, versus does have plans to create an engine that allows them to create these metaverse music making experiences With the flip of a switch, basically. But that was really great feedback and I know I think um Sujata Rao, who is also on that kind of panel of experts, um, who she's a senior director also with digital technology strategy at UMG, um kind of pointed out like the benefit of not just trying to do stuff with the latest greatest pop stuff but look at the catalog too.

I know she said that in reference to um, heard it all before as card game because there's so many cool things you could do with, like historic music and catalogs, to get people engaged with that music again too. So and then I guess just one last great sharing that I had at that UMG experience. Bill Ganyan from the innovation group was basically saying the first step in licensing music with somebody like UMG is to find a trusted and experienced advisor, not necessarily at that label. So you know he had tipped to people like Bill Campbell, dick Wingade, vicky Nauman. These are people that have experienced successfully licensing with major labels and other labels and publishers. Um, and I thought that was really interesting that you'd have somebody from a label saying well, there's people out there that will help walk you through all these steps of what you need to know so that by the time you show up at our door we can tell you've already done the work.

0:27:56 - Tristra

Yeah, that was a really interesting piece of advice, though it makes total sense. I would want someone to come to me with a well-articulated business model, with all of their ducks in a row, so that I could really evaluate will this work for us or not? You're doing yourself a disservice as a startup if you come in and you're just like, well, it's kind of like this thing where you do this thing, but maybe you play the, which is the way I would probably pitch Bill, so it was really really great to get, and also some of the pitches were fantastic and they were all different and they were all really really educational. So, if you are, if you have a startup, if you're thinking of having a startup and it's in music, tech or related to music, you should definitely come next year and learn from both the people who are some of the big decision makers, but also from your peers, because they have some of them are a couple of years ahead of you and they have some really good moves and chops and you gotta check it out.

0:28:58 - Dmitri

Speaking of startups, we didn't even mention. We had our winners announced for this competition.

0:29:03 - Tristra

Oh my gosh, how silly. How do we forget our narwhals?

0:29:07 - Dmitri

Right, our narwhals, swimming with narwhals. So we should mention that the winner from the judges choice award was AUX. Aux, which is a really cool music creation and collaboration platform and is doing some really amazing stuff there. And then we had an audience choice award, which was which is Real Count, which helps companies on the live side aggregate all the data around ticket sales.

So you, it's kind of like what we were talking about with the data stuff earlier, when we're talking about Day and Brittany's panel, helping artists understand the power of data, how important it is for them to have access to the data. It's the same thing, but on the live side, and saying, hey, come to one place where you can get some transparency on how your concerts are doing, because sometimes Diana Grimor, who pitched one of the co-founders, who pitched for Real Count, said it's you'll reach out to a promoter for a show and say so, how are ticket sales doing? And you won't get an answer. And one of the reasons you might not get an answer is because ticket sales are zero or very close to zero.

0:30:10 - Tristra

Yeah, yeah.

0:30:11 - Dmitri

Or they may not know. You know, and, as we say at Rock Paper Scissors, the second best answer is no when you know when. When pitching a journalist for some press coverage similar with ticket sales, like, the second best answer is to know that nothing has been sold, because at least then you know where you stand. If you get no answer, if you don't know how you're doing, you can't really take any action on it. So that's a really interesting one, and one cool thing that came out of that was we found out. Actually, tracy Maddox, who is one of the judges from downtown music, pointed out he remembered that she, they, she had said they were working on a seed round at our semi-final, which was an online pre-conference of September. But when she stood up on stage just a week ago at Tech Tonics, she said they had closed their seed round and he was like wait, that was really fast, that was like under six weeks, wow, so they're making. They're making progress.

There's clearly a need for what they're doing. So, check out Aux, aux and Real Count, the winners of the swimming with Narwhals Music Tech competition and we kind of glazed over the fireside chat I did with Tatiana Cirassano. I'm curious, were there standout kind of conversations in there for you, tristra? That? I mean, you know, like, like we both said, when you're on stage it's hard to absorb it all. But I was asking her questions and trying to get all the answers but what stood out for you there?

0:31:27 - Tristra

Well, I have to say, I was busy doing some other things during that time, but Tatiana is always incredibly insightful. One thing that she said that really resonated with me was about the future fluidity of music. That we're not going to be looking at a set recorded track that you play it and every single time you play it it's going to sound the same. We're looking at a future that is interactive, where fan remixes are going to become sort of par for the course, where people are going to want to mess around with music and we're going to have to find some ways to do this, that, and it's not even about licensing. I mean, in the business we often focus on licensing but, like I was just thinking, today FKA twigs, for instance, a bunch of her music was leaked like demos and rough mixes and things like that, and she's like forget it, back to the drawing board. I'm not going to work on those songs anymore.

What that says to me is that control is key for artists. Right, you don't want your creative, you want to control your creative process, and if you extend that to fans, you're going to have to think really carefully about what do I want them to have access to and be able to do and what do I want to keep for myself? And there's going to be people who are wide open and just like go for it, I don't care, here are the stems, you know, go nuts. And there's going to be some people who are like, yeah, I'll let you do this tiny little thing, but I'm not going to let you do anything else, or I'm not even going to. This isn't a game I want to play. So it's going to be interesting to see how that more fluid musical model is going to impact both what artists do and how fans interact with artists.

0:33:02 - Dmitri

Kind of on a related note, she also talked about kind of seeing music creators start to adopt the model similar to what some athletes and sports celebrities have adopted. Where what is that? What is the cleats or the shoes or the jersey that represents an artist that you're actually selling?

in a sense, you're selling it to aspirational athletes as well, you know that musicians may start to come up with products relevant to music that they can send to. They can sell to fans who are also making music, you know? So what are the cleats of music making that a legit artist that has a fan base can sell to their fans to make music as well.

0:33:49 - Tristra

Here are all my settings in this one particular. It could be plugins it could be.

0:33:55 - Dmitri

It could be physical gear too, yeah, but but just the idea to think in terms of and this, you know, I know it's really hard for artists who lived pre streaming and are still making music and trying to make a living to say, well, the streaming of your music is now kind of a vibe creation tool, like you're building community, you're giving people something. It's a freemium thing, like, yeah, you get paid a little bit for streams, but really what you're doing is you're getting, you're getting into people's brains and then they're becoming hooked on you, your music, your creativity, your aesthetic, your philosophy and what else are you going to be able to sell them? Or what else? Are they going to engage in a way that creates monetary value for you, which is it's hard?

0:34:40 - Tristra

It was an interesting time right now because, you're right, streaming has become a bit of a loss leader, and I mean for individual artists and what is. But what's the premium product? Like you're set the, if streaming is like the tomatoes at your farm stand, like where's the super expensive, like I don't know shallots and I was like I'm not sure.

0:35:00 - Dmitri

It's when, necessarily, but what is the premium product that feels like it could be a whole conference of its own right?

0:35:07 - Tristra

Oh, absolutely, absolutely.

0:35:09 - Dmitri

I mean her whole talk was called. You know, it was basically about the post streaming era, which Mark Mulligan from MIDI research kind of laid out during our pre-conference in September, but but I think like that's the next, that's the next level, is sort of like okay, so what does it look like to create music in a future post streaming model? How do people engage with it and how do people monetize it? How are people incentivized to create it and do it? But also, I mean the other piece of it that's kind of like on the celebrity artist, artist that really builds a massive following level. The flip side is all the creativity by the masses, like where everyone's making making music, where we finally got AI and other tools and technology that feel like what the iPhone and Instagram did for photography is finally starting to happen for for music.

0:36:02 - Tristra

Yeah, it's super exciting. I can't wait to hear what? What strange and probably kind of mediocre and bad stuff, but very probably, but very satisfying right. Like what could be more satisfying than capturing a moment? And you know, as a singer, I you know there are so many moments that I was able to like really really get into a song and sing it and just be totally present. And I want that experience for everybody and I think some of this tech could really unlock that for people, for people who don't sing or who aren't particularly musically inclined.

0:36:33 - Dmitri

I have to share one more. I know we're wrapping up here, but I have to share one more kernel I got from Tatiana's fireside chat where she distinguished between artist fans and music fans.

Not that they're always separate, but we were talking. I asked her about Superfandom because there's certain reports in the media that would make you think that Superfandom either has or will save the music industry in some way or grow the music industry, and she was saying that in their research at media they found there's different types of fans, and so it made me think a little bit about myself and reflect a little bit. I've never been the artist's superfan Like. I've never been like I have to be in the front row, I have to have the VIP tickets, I you know I have to wear the clothes. It's not because I don't love the music or even the artists, but it just that's just not like I don't connect my identity around the celebrity side of it Absolutely.

I'm more like on the discovery side. I'm more like oh, I can't believe how they just tweak that genre or you know, something specific about their voice within a genre or within a field or a scene or a style or whatever. And you know, like you, I mean you. You probably like a variety of music. I like weirder music, a little more esoteric stuff.

0:37:48 - Tristra

But I like anything I connect with emotionally, but it does tend to be on the weirder side.

0:37:54 - Dmitri

So I made me think oh well, you know there is a place for the music fan as opposed to the artist fan. So when people are like, no, this is the solution, what is the pro? You ask that question. What is the premium product for music? It might be different for somebody who's a superfan of an artist versus somebody who leans into, like, a diversity of discovery or kind of a musical, logical or a lyrical or poetic or some other reason why they're falling in love with things.

0:38:21 - Tristra

Absolutely. That's such a great point.

0:38:22 - Dmitri

Yeah, and I had a blast. I'm so grateful to Shaley Ankenbrook, our head of events, eleanor Rust, our marketing director, allison Hall, our COO, and the whole team from music, from rock paper scissors that helped make that happen. You included, tristra, thank you so much.

0:38:39 - Tristra

Yeah, well, I didn't screw things up too bad this year, except for yeah, no, you didn't at all, and in fact, you helped break the ice.

0:38:47 - Dmitri

Maybe next year we'll have more of a pool party because you were wanting to jump in the pool.

0:38:52 - Tristra

Shaley and the rap and lawyer Elijah we're all alone. Come on, come on, world music peeps.

0:38:59 - Dmitri

I think I'll bring my bathing suit next year.

But music tectonics will happen again late October 2024. We're planning to come back to Santa Monica. We'll get you dates as soon as we can. It was so meaningful to have all of you there. If you're listening and you were at the conference, I mean you know the vibe was incredible. Hopefully you met some new besties and connected with some old ones and those of you who didn't make it. You got to come this time. You know this next year market in your calendar. As soon as we let you know the day it's, you're probably working on budgets for next year. Put the budgets in to come make a splash, real or metaphorically, and be at the music tectonics conference. Hey, trisha, this is always fun. Thanks so much.

0:39:39 - Tristra

Oh, I had a blast, Thank you.

0:39:41 - Dmitri

Dimitri, thanks for listening to music tectonics. If you like what you hear, please subscribe on your favorite podcast app. We have new episodes for you every week. Did you know we do free monthly online events that you are lovely podcast listeners can join? Find out more at music tectonicscom and, while you're there, look for the latest about our annual conference and sign up for our newsletter to get updates. Everything we do explores the seismic shifts that shake up music and technology, the way the earth's tectonic plates cause quakes and make mountains. Connect with music tectonics on Twitter, instagram and LinkedIn. That's my favorite platform. Thanks with me, Dmitri Vietze, if you can spell it, we'll be back again next week, if not sooner.

Music Tectonics at NAMM 2023

Let us know what you think! Tweet @MusicTectonics, find us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram, or connect with podcast host Dmitri Vietze on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

The Music Tectonics podcast goes beneath the surface of the music industry to explore how technology is changing the way business gets done. Weekly episodes include interviews with music tech movers & shakers, deep dives into seismic shifts, and more.


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