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  • Writer's pictureEric Doades

The Real Tectonics 2024

Updated: May 6

If you’re a regular listener, you know we run the Music Tectonics conference. Early EARLY bird tickets are now on sale, and it’s time for you to think about joining us on the beach in Santa Monica CA. Find out about this year's keynote speaker—and why it's a big deal that he's back! We share a few audio snapshots from the conference to give you a taste of the music innovation conversations that take place there.

Links to events and apps that are talked about in this week's episode:

Music Tectonics 2024 Conference October 22-24, 2024

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!

Join the Music Tectonics team and top music innovators by the beach for the best music tech event of the year:

6th Annual Music Tectonics Conference October 22-24, 2024 Santa Monica, California

Listen wherever you pod your casts:

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!

Join the Music Tectonics team and top music innovators by the beach for the best music tech event of the year:

6th Annual Music Tectonics Conference October 22-24, 2024 Santa Monica, California

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 your host, Dmitri Vietze, and I'm also the founder and CEO of Rock Paper Scissors, the PR and marketing firm that specializes in music innovation. Now, if you're a regular listener, you know we run the Music Tectonics Conference, and it's time for you to make a choice. You need to choose to come join us on the beach in Santa Monica, so we're going to give you a taste of the mind-blowing talks that take place at our conference. We literally organized this conference for you, and to help me share with you the news and what's going on this year, I've got with me our marketing director, eleanor Rust. Hi, eleanor. 

0:00:48 - Eleanor

Hi Dimitri. I'm super excited to share 2024 news and a few audio snapshots from the conference so you can hear what it's like to be there. 

0:00:57 - Dmitri

Yeah, you've pulled out some pleasers from the freezer from the past, but it's really looking forward to see, like the cool stuff that's going to be happening. So if you haven't been to the conference, you're going to love this. Okay, Make note our dates. This year, October 22nd to 24th in Santa Monica in California. We're back on these really cool locations. They're all sunny beachside venues. People were going crazy for them the last couple of years. And we've got a few surprises up our sleeves this year as well. 

0:01:24 - Eleanor

All right To be a part of it. Get your super early bird ticket now at There are a limited number of those special tickets, available for just a limited time. They are going to disappear May 21st or when they sell out, whichever comes first. 

0:01:39 - Dmitri

So you got to jump on it. You know you might run out or the date might pass, so keep in mind we're not going to keep pitching you on this until the end about getting tickets, but we just want to make sure you know, as our dedicated, loyal or new podcast listeners, this is your chance to jump into the mix and hang out with me and Eleanor and Shaley and Tristra and the whole crew. 

0:01:59 - Eleanor

Who else are we going to meet at Music Tectonics? I'm sorry, I just have to jump in because I am super excited about this announcement. 

0:02:04 - Dmitri

Oh well, you know what, Returning from our first year in 2019, as our keynote is Mark Mulligan from Media Research. People go crazy for Mark and he'll be back doing our keynote. 

0:02:15 - Eleanor

I know it's a great moment because, well, mark has been a part of our conference in some way or another online, in person, person since that first 2019 conference, and others from media research have also shared insights at our events. But I feel like Mark returning to the stage is a pretty important moment for us. 

0:02:36 - Dmitri

Definitely. We've had him on online events in between years, but he's coming back and, honestly, his keynote that first year kind of shaped music tectonics so I think we should go back. Let's listen back to Mark in 2019. He makes this parallel between a historic moment in the streaming era and he starts off this clip with a quote from John Philip Sousa, whom Mark called the Jay-Z of his time. 

0:03:00 - Eleanor

I mean if Jay-Z played military marches. 

0:03:03 - Mark

This person said it's a machine for bringing dead sounds back to life. Now, if you think about that, until we had recordings, music would never sound the same twice, and you could only hear that music if you were fortunate enough to be where somebody was performing it. It could only exist in the moment. That's why music changed and was fluid and particularly popular music, which tended not to be written down as much, and so music was this very fluid concept. Then along came the gramophone and it started setting it into stone. So one of the things I'm going to talk about later on is how maybe it's time to start turning the clock back on that ossification of music. But here he was talking about how he sees the world is getting. The music world is getting destroyed by this newfangled technology. You know, you can hear the indignation in his voice. Thankfully he was wrong, because if he wasn't, then we'd all be listening to playlists of military marching music now. 

But there's a really important principle here. If you just swapped a few words, it's exactly the same way that people who are concerned about how streaming is changing the way that the music business works and this is because, fundamentally, change is difficult. Now, change is difficult is one of those horrible phrases. A management consultancy firm will come in before they tell you that you're fired. But it really is genuinely difficult. Now, you know, change is difficult is one of those horrible phrases. A management consultancy firm will come in before they tell you that you're fired. 

But it really is genuinely difficult because we don't know the whole thing about change. We don't know what is going to happen. We can have some good ideas and we can have some hopes and expectations. We're at a stage with music now where we've got great return to growth, but we've also got, on the consumer side of the music business, a real slowdown in innovation. If you look at the streaming market, it's essentially like everybody's got to buy a Lexus, but they can choose what colour paint they have, and that is a really sad testament that we're in a point where, if you look in games, you look in video, you see so much innovation, so much change, so much segmentation, niche services and interactivity and all these sort of things which we do not have enough of at the moment in music. 

0:05:24 - Dmitri

I love how Mark goes back in history to get insights about today. It's super cool, but he also brings us not only into the present but into the future of music. So check out what else he said five years ago at our conference, so you can see that it's still relevant today, in 2024. 

0:05:40 - Mark

Yes, music is like water, but that's not a good thing. How many of us go out when we're out having drinks with our friends? This amazing water coming out of my tap? No, water is a utility, it's just something that's there. And that's what we've done with digital music. We've turned music into utility. Yes, it's a valued utility. We value water. I mean, if the water's not there, then we notice it's not there and we've got a problem. But it's not something that fills us with passion, which is what music is meant to do. And so we're at a stage where we've got a real opportunity to work out how we can bring back the fandom and the passion into music. 

If you look back throughout history, music used to be the central cultural identifier for youth, so much so you could tell what music people liked by how they looked. You know the Teddy Boys in the 50s, and then the Mods, Punks, metalheads, new Romantics, indie Kids. You could tell people were saying this is me. Music matters so much to me I'm going to decide what hair I've got, what clothes I've got, because I want to tell you what music matters to me. Now, with so many things competing for time, all of these other things are just as likely for youth to define who they are. A 12-year-old is more likely to define themselves as a fan of Ninja than they are of any music act. 

And with everything, when we're looking at what's happening to younger consumers, you always have to work out what is cohort base versus what is demographic base. So what are the things that they're doing just because they're young and these things happen to be here now, and what of them? Are permanent new behaviours that they're going to take with them? I would argue that on Fortnite, a 12 year old spending $10, $20 a month on skins and emotes that do nothing to improve the gameplay but say everything about the identity of who they are, that is something that they're going to take with them, and at the moment we don't have an answer for that in music, so that money's going to go somewhere else as they grow up, unless we work out a plan b that was mark in 2019 and know what. 

0:08:06 - Eleanor

It is the perfect setup for a clip I want to share from more recent years. So five years on, the media research team continued to talk about the reality of a post-streaming music industry, and that was the theme of Tatiana Sarasano's keynote in 2023. And that was mind-blowing. I'm going to return to the fireside chat that you had with Tatiana Sarasano. It was a wide-ranging conversation about the post-streaming music industry and the future of the creative economy, so I want to hear about how Tatiana is now talking about the fluidity and fandom that Mark started formulating back in 2019. 

0:08:47 - Dmitri

How will music sound in this post-streaming era? 

0:08:50 - Tatiana

I love that question so much. I mean, I guess that kind of relates to AI too, because I think what I am always thinking about with this is, like you know, that Marshall McLuhan quote it's like the medium is the message. 

0:09:06 - Dmitri


0:09:06 - Tatiana

That is like put that on my tombstone which is basically the format that something is delivered in, changes how it's perceived, and the way that I kind of apply that here is, every time there's new technology or a new format shift, it's asking yourself what does that incentivize? How does that change the behaviors? And I think that with streaming, as an artist, you're incentivized to sound like everyone else, because that's what gets you put next on the playlist or on the algorithmic session. You know, if you sound like Drake, you're more likely to come up next in the Drake radio station or whatever it is. 

My friend and colleague, dan Runcie of Trapital, wrote a really good article about this, saying Drake has succeeded. No offense to Drake, but he succeeded because he's consistently good rather than being occasionally great, and consistently good is rewarded in the streaming economy not being occasionally great. So, anyway, all that is to say, like we've ended up with, in the streaming era, what you're incentivized is to kind of just sound like everybody else. But I wonder if AI will be the thing to absolutely flip that on its head, because if you sound like everybody else, that it's that much easier for someone to go into a generator and say make an AI Drake track, which, of course, is exactly what we saw. So I wonder if artists in this new era will be more pushed to be constantly reinventing themselves and be creating things that sound like nobody else. 

That's also kind of like my hope, I guess, and then I think the thing I would leave you with on that is I think we're reaching the end of static music, where everything leads up to the release of a song and then it's the finished product and that's the end of the story. I think, increasingly, when you release a song, it's just the beginning of a song and then it's the finished product and that's the end of the story. I think, increasingly, when you release a song, it's just the beginning of its life and what you're really releasing are the building blocks for other people to play with. And yes, that's scary, and I'm not here to tell you how I feel emotionally about any of this. I'm here to tell you what the trends are showing and how we can adjust based on it. But, um, but I think that's kind of. 

0:11:09 - Eleanor

The future of of music is fluidity okay, that was amazing and that whole chat is available to listen to on the podcast. We'll stick a link in the show notes of this episode if you'd like to revisit it. 

0:11:23 - Dmitri

It is still um powerful to listen to yeah, we should put links to links to the Mark Mulligan one too, because that's also in the podcast. 

0:11:30 - Eleanor

I listened to it again and it was just like, yeah, it had shaped the last five years. It's going to continue to shape the next. 

0:11:37 - Dmitri

Yeah, still totally relevant. And Tatiana had written an article last year about a crossroads in music where streaming services are starting to offer up one category of music and other music would be elsewhere on the web, maybe like social platforms. And just this month Mark Mulligan followed up with another article called Can't Cross the Moat, walk Around it. And he writes no one confuses a TikTok short for a Netflix original because they operate in entirely different lanes. Right now both sides of music occupy the same places streaming and social. For as long as it was only the long tail of single millions of independent artists, that awkward cohabitation just about worked, but not for much longer. Now we have tens of millions of creators uploading music to social but not streaming, and we face the prospect of hundreds of millions of consumer creations, perhaps even a billion, according to BandLab's Mengru Kwok. End quote Eleanor. I'm dying to see how this evolves by the time Mark and Tatiana come back to the Music Tectonics Conference. 

0:12:37 - Eleanor

Me too. And not only do we have innovative thinkers like Mark and Tatiana at Tectonics, we have those innovative builders as well. We really designed the conference to have a focus on cutting edge innovators and especially to be really startup friendly. 

0:12:54 - Dmitri

I want to hear your perspective on that. How do we do it? We definitely do that Well. So, for one thing, we have this swimming with narwhals startup pitch, competition, competition and that starts early in the year, so it really builds anticipation and we invite startups to come in, they get feedback and they ask questions from investors and experts. So that starts building online with our pre-conference and other things. Events we're doing all year Check out musictectonicscom, because there's our seismic events every month and then we lead into this competition too. So lots of great info and sharing and networking for startups all along, which carries into the event itself, and sharing and networking for startups all along, which carries into the event itself. 

On the first day of the conference, we take over this really cool retro carousel at the Santa Monica Pier. Yes, you can ride the carousel, but in addition to having a bar and food nearby, we also have a carousel of startups all around. It's a cool kind of circular-shaped building and you can come in and get demos of those startups. We have folks that have come from all over the world. We have trade missions coming from Korea and Norway. We have people visiting from Australia and the UK, all over the place really. And then we have our regular programming, which we'll talk about, but the third day we also team up with Universal Music Group. Their digital innovations team puts together a kind of music tech startup boot camp. You know, we have our regular programming, which we'll talk about, but the third day we also team up with Universal Music Group. Their digital innovations team puts together a kind of music tech startup boot camp. So on the third day we actually go over to the. 

Universal Music Campus. Last year we were in a studio. The year before that we were in a cool Bob Marley break room, but you get a chance to actually be at Universal and hear directly from those folks. So a lot of really actionable advice coming from a major label at that boot camp. 

0:14:33 - Eleanor

Yeah, you kind of have to experience it to see how different and special it is. So I want to hear a little bit about that conference experience from Diana Greenmore of RealCount, the startup that won the Audience Choice Award in 2023. I just want to shout out Ben Bowler of Ox, who won the Judges' Choice Award that year. So, Demetria, you spoke with Diana after the conference to get her perspective on that experience. 

0:14:57 - Dmitri

Yeah, let's listen to that. 

0:14:58 - Diana

Yeah, well, it was a great experience. So I first attended Music Tectonics last year 2022, and I went to a lot of the startup programming, including the workshop over at was it Interscope or Universal last year, definitely learned a lot, got to meet a lot of other startups, so it was really cool to see the process and the pitch competition as well. Last year, and then this year, of course, with the progression of Real Count, we were really excited to apply and participate. It was really great doing the virtual pitch. We got a lot of great feedback. It was so nice that people from around the world could attend that. And then, of course, at the actual competition at the actual event. I am a bit of a nervous public speaker, so to find that I was able to, you know, win over the audience and an audience pitch for something like Ticket Counts, which we'll get into a little bit later, is just a really fun, exciting thing for both myself personally and then also, of course, for RealCount as a company. 

0:16:18 - Dmitri

You did not seem nervous, you did great pitch and, yeah, I love that we have this audience choice award because it is a good barometer for what people are excited about and interested in a broader scale. Obviously, we have our investor panels and, obviously, getting through the semifinal, you were also Real Count was reviewed by investors too. In fact, tracy Maddox was one of the judges and he specifically mentioned how impressed he was that you were doing an initial angel raise or something like that during the semifinal and six weeks later you had already achieved it yeah, that was. 

0:16:53 - Diana

That was a really lovely surprise, not without a lot of hard groundwork being laid over the past year or so. So to get from one point to another in such a short period of time, from being at the semifinals to raising, to being able to share that we had just closed was a big thrill. 

0:17:14 - Dmitri

I'm telling you this is the conference for startups and innovators. 

0:17:17 - Eleanor

But you know, innovation needs investors. So I want to shout out the investors who attend and speak at the conference, on panels or as judges in the startup competition, because investors who specialize in music innovation are a pretty rare breed. 

0:17:33 - Dmitri

I bet they are. 

0:17:35 - Joe

So Joe To of Sony Ventures was on the podcast last year and he told me why he loves being a part of music tectonics as an investor and he told me why he loves being a part of Music Tectonics as an investor, after investing in a music tech for some years, it's very apparent that the community is really tight and it's small, and that's a great thing, because if you bring the right venue and bring the right people in, that's what really makes a conference right. 

It's like the panels are nice and the speakers are nice and everything, but it's really about the people connecting and having the chance to have the right kind of conversations. A lot of them happen in the hallways, so I've found that Music Tectonics is one of the best places. The assembly of the right people gives the tectonics conference certainly some unique DNA for the sector, and people can get closer and closer together, have very personal conversations and therefore very productive at the same time. And you hear about all the you know. When you, when you talk to all the people that are in music tech you, you just come to appreciate the amount of thinking and the amount of ideas that are generating you know uh in people's heads and, um, I've always just found uh, the conference to be a great place to just kind of sit, digest, share what I know in order to generate more ideas and knowledge in the community and it's been great just being a part of it. 

0:19:14 - Eleanor

Oh, we love Joe right back, and so I'd like to share a little bit from 2023's panel discussion between Joe and some other very smart investors. We had Rishi Patel of Plus 8 Equity, and the voice you're going to hear on this clip is Deek Velagandula of Waverly Capital, and he has some kind of controversial advice for founders and then some insights into future music industry trends that I think really intersect with what Mark and Tatyana said in our earlier clips. 

0:19:43 - Deek

So there's two major themes we're pursuing and thinking about, especially when it comes to music tech, which I think should not be a phrase generally or is kind of a misnomer, but one is Say more. 

Well, we can end with that, but I guess one pro tip to all founders as you approach the broader investor base, I would avoid using the phrase music tech altogether. It'll scare away 95 of investors. Um, the ones up probably not the ones up here, but but a vast majority and so find, find a different way to position your company. Um, one of the big things themes we've we've been thinking about and spending time and even investing in is sort of thinking about streaming, the last 10 years having been an era of the maturation of the streaming streaming economy. Um, it's been everything about getting music everywhere, playing music everywhere. Uh, we think the next five to ten years are going to be a shift from consumption to expression. We've already started seeing the seedlings of that, especially with music. Photo and video has already happened, and so now it's not just about playing music, it's about playing with music, and we're looking to back founders and platforms that really enable especially the average consumer, the prosumer, to do that and do things that only even at the very, very low skill level, amateur musicians have been able to do. 

The second theme I would say we've been taking a deeper dive into is this is a big bias from my Live Nation experience, with the live events experience really being enhanced, fan engagement in venue et cetera being enhanced by the latest technologies. I think AI has been a massive driver of this. Whether we look at the latest Drake tour and some of the incredible stuff he's been able to bring, or the rebirth of ABBA in the UK and selling out show after show, both of those things would not have been enabled without the technologies that have been created in the last 12 to 18 months and those are real revenue-driving, venture-backable technologies, something that you couldn't say necessarily three years ago in companies selling exclusively to musicians and live events companies. So that's a place we think has a lot of greenfield. The technology is rapidly advancing every month and we're excited about companies building that. 

0:22:04 - Dmitri

You know, it's great to get those type of fresh thoughts from people who are writing checks, but I also like that we bring in people who are from the music industry to Tectonics. One of the things that our co-host Tristra took away from the 2023 conference is that, in addition to the future thinking and the AI buzzwords, people wanted to talk about solving how the gears turn, how the money moves, the licensing, the fraud, the data. These are critical issues to succeed in the music industry. So the labels, the managers, the publishers, they come for that conversation, they help inform startups and vice versa, and we aim for a full ecosystem in the room. 

0:22:39 - Eleanor

Awesome. Let's hear from Day Bogan of the MLC, and Brittany Foreman of Acceleration Music in conversation with Tristra in 2023. And I chose this clip because I love how passionate Day and Brittany get about those nuts and bolts. You know, transparency in music data is important and can really get people excited, so let's hear them do that. 

0:23:01 - Day

We've made progress, hence the MLC has been doing a lot of work, but much like they said, we have so far to go. There's still this possessiveness about a lot of the data and while I'm team like, be transparent because a rising tide will lift all ships Like it, only we work work in an ecosystem. So if we're sharing data, it helps all of us. Um and I I as the guard changes, hopefully those ideas change as well that we're a little bit more open to sharing data. I obviously know that competitive advantage like there will still always be a little bit, but I think the core data that will help all of us. I think we should be sharing that amongst each other. I think that should be more transparent because, again, we all work together. Like everybody here knows each other, we should be working together in terms of competitive advantage. 

0:24:00 - Brittany

You know, creating silos around data has been historically a part of someone's competitive advantage. Well, this is our data. We hold it tight because we license it out. And then MLC came about and we have a bulk database fee, and now we're now disseminating data to over 100 companies around the world that are now using that data in their businesses, in their practices, from societies to for-profit companies like Jexta. We're powering metadata, we're powering micro-licensing. We're doing all this stuff and we're not in a competitive space and these companies are competing with each other, but yet they're still able to access that data and use it without changing their competitiveness. 

We need to compete around services, not around the data, because at the end of the day, the data is the artist. I truly believe that the data is the songwriter who wrote the music. It's not the publisher's data, it's not the society's data, it's the data is that songwriter who wrote it. So to keep it in a silo where that songwriter can't even see it and it affects their royalties, is inherently unethical to me. So I've always believed that, before the MLC, and that's why I built TuneRegistry, that's why I built Royalty Claim, the first search engine of unclaimed music royalties. Give these people access to their data. When we have access to their data, people will get paid. When they get paid, they're happy. 

0:25:29 - Eleanor

But as long as we keep these silos and say this is our data because we curated it with our algorithms and our web crawlers, so it's now ours. 

0:25:32 - Dmitri

That's bs do you want to start a revolution with me? Data to the artists now. You've heard the wide variety of amazing experiences that happen at our annual party I mean conference. So here's where you have a decision to make. Are you going to be there with me and eleanor and trista and Shaylee and a thousand of your favorite music innovators on the planet? 

0:25:48 - Eleanor

I want you to be a part of 2024's conference, so my advice is get your conference ticket while you can still get the super early bird rate. It's $199 for all that we just talked about. That's cheap, yeah, but prices will jump to $250 when these limited tickets sell out or on May 21st, whichever comes first. 

0:26:08 - Dmitri

So all of the amazing things that we've talked about on today's episode come with your tickets Mark's keynote hearing, tatiana Sirisano, the media crew applying for the pitch competition and participating in startup programming. Connecting with the right people and the right place to get business done and share ideas, like Joe To spoke about on this episode. Panels with insights from investors, innovators, big thinkers and problem solvers, like the clips we heard. 

0:26:35 - Eleanor

Dimitri, thank you so much for getting me hyped up about the 2024 conference. I cannot wait to see you in Santa Monica. 

0:26:41 - Dmitri

Let's go See you guys there. 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, our lovely podcast listeners, can join? Find out more at 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. Connect with me, Dmitri Vietze, If you can spell it. We'll be back again next week, if not sooner.

Music Tectonics at NAMM 2024

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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