Words and Photos by Julie Blaustein
The SanFran Music Tech Summit: round two, came around again really soon. The first one was held back in February and it’s now the beginning of May. Yet, the turnout was greater, there were 10 more sponsors and overall the content was more defined and interesting.
Most likely the reason for acting so quickly to have another conference in such quick succession had to do with the fact that NARM – The National Association of Recording Merchandisers took place the previous week in San Francisco. And if you are in the music business, you would be there. And now you had an excuse to hang out for the rest of the week in San Francisco and attend the SanFran MusicTech Summit.
In case you haven’t heard, the Music business is in trouble. Forrester Research came out with a report back in February titled, “The End of the Music Industry as We Know it” and that pretty much says it all. Technology, which is supposed to make things easier, faster, better – is killing the music industry.
Only yesterday the Warner Music Group Corp. whose artists include R.E.M., Madonna and Greenday said Thursday that the higher costs and a shift to digital music resulted in a wider-second-quarter loss and it suspended dividends. Just as in the first Summit, this theme resonated throughout every panel.
The first and the strongest panel – “The Thought Leaders,” consisted of some extremely well respected folks in the industry including Ty Roberts of Gracenote, recently acquired by Sony, Michael Petricones of the Consumer Electronics Association, Aza Raskin of Mozilla, Tim Westegren of Pandora and Moderated by Brian Zisk, the brain child behind the SanFran MusicTech and of the Future of Music Coalition. Each one of these folks have moved the industry forward to new boundaries but what they all agree on was that Intellectual Property (IP) should not need permission to be used and technology should be kept simple to keep the industry going strong.
The Fifth Beatle – A statement by Tim Westegren of Pandora must have hit a nerve as it was repeated by two other panelists during the conference. He suggested that all bands should have an additional band member, the 5th Beatle, who would act as the marketing and promotions manager in order to ensure the success of all bands in this world of technology. They would receive a cut of all revenue the band makes. They would deal with all the technology out there; the MySpaces, Facebooks and all the other promotional outlets on the internet that the band simply does not have the time nor care to deal with it. This type of service does exist out there today.
I met a real life 5th Beatle at the conference who does provide this kind of service; Jason Feinberg of On Target MediaOnTarget Media is out there helping bands generate buzz, get traffic, grow email lists and increase sales through editorial reviews, interviews, feature stories, streaming audio/video, mp3 downloads, contests. retail marketing, social networks, lifestyle marketing, blogs, podcasts and online radio. Another such lifesaver for those bands without a major record label deal is Ariel Hyatt of Ariel Publicity who provides a newsletter full of informaton about surviving and succeeding in the business.
It was a diverse crowd at the conference. There were your usual musicians, now technology types. Educational credits were offered for the Copyright Issues in Music Law and Legal Issues in Searching, Linking & Blogging which pulled in the lawyers. There were also quasi celebrities such as Tim Ferris who wrote The 4-hour Work Week and was interviewed by Derek Sivers of CD Baby. Mile’s Davis’ nephew, Vince Wilburn Jr., who keeps the Miles Davis Properties music alive. Pete Cashmore, CEO of Mashable was also present as a Media Sponsor and also covering the event no doubt.
There were some fun and unusual sessions such as the Artist Activism Workshop where Mike Relm, a VJ/Turntablist entertained and shared his video/promoting activism that he usually holds at loud parties. Dave McClure of Master of 500 Hats moderated the Social Networking Platforms & Music. He always creates audience participation and this was no exception. By a show of hands and noise level, he conducted an informal survey to learn which is the most popular music platform out there. It turned out to be Itunes, YouTube followed by MySpace. There was also Mobile and a VC panel followed by 30 Second pitches where anyone and everyone had a chance to gain attention to their service, product, offering or to themselves.
Vince Wilburn, Jr. of the Miles Davis Properties and Karl Wente of Wente Vinyards
A final and much anticipated session called Happy Hour pulled the whole group together to network, drink and hang a bit before the next round of the SanFrancisco MusicTech. Wine from Wente Vinyards, where they also have live concerts, was poured by Karl Wente. I am looking forward to the next SanFran MusicTech Summit. This time I hope they make it in Hawaii after a major conference so I can go there and stay longer.
Dave Ratner of IP & Entertainment Law, Pete Cashmore, CEO and Founder of Mashable and Alicia Lin, Business Development of Mashable
Tim Ferris grabbing a much needed glass of wine after a tough 4 day work week.
Good Times at the SanFran Music Tech
Pete Cashmore, CEO and Founder of Mashable and Alicia Lin, Business Development of Mashable
And one more, Shoshana and Brian Zisk!
More pics go to Julie’s page