The fine print of big ideas in music and technology, hosted by Cherie Hu and featuring a curated selection of leaders, innovators, artists and thinkers from across the music business. This is an ad-free audio companion to the eponymous email newsletter.
Episode 14 (ft. Amit Gurbaxani): What India's music industry can teach us about paid YouTube views, musical regionalism and the productive uselessness of charts
Mumbai-based music journalist Amit Gurbaxani joins this episode to discuss the latest trends defining the Indian music business. We start by examining the implications of Amit's early reporting on Badshah and Sony Music India, who openly admitted to buying views on YouTube in order to "break" the platform's record for most views in the first 24 hours —a practice that YouTube formally banned shortly thereafter. We then expand to wider industry issues, including but not limited to how language might be more important than genre in determining an artist's success in the Indian music market; why the terms "non-film music" and "independent music" are both flawed in an Indian context; what the first-ever India charts for Spotify and YouTube, both launched this year, reveal about local music-industry trends; and why charts in general have always been meaningless — and why that isn't necessarily a bad thing. At the end, we discuss whether radio payola and record labels launched by film studios are overrated or underrated.
Episode 13 (ft. Garrison Snell): Why now is a tough time to start a music marketing agency
Garrison Snell, Founder & CEO of Gyrosity Projects, joins this episode to unpack the opportunities and challenges that independent music marketers face in the modern industry landscape. We discuss the ongoing consolidation of marketing agencies and consulting firms both inside and outside of music; why now is not the best time to start a new music-marketing agency, and where the few remaining gaps in the market might be found; how record labels are now competing with music-marketing agencies for work, as labels move towards a more service- rather than ownership-oriented business model; the impact of automation on music marketers' jobs; how the gig economy transforms the way music marketing is done, often for the worse; and, importantly, why artists should care about all this in the first place. At the end, we argue why Spotify's acquisition of SoundBetter and Netflix's new reality-TV music competition "Rhythm + Flow" are both overrated.
Episode 12 (ft. Madame Gandhi): What does an artist-centric future for music-tech look like?
Prolific drummer, electronic artist, feminist activist and public speaker Kiran Gandhi (a.k.a. Madame Gandhi) joins this episode to exchange perspectives not just on how technological change has transformed artists' careers, but also on what artists themselves can do about it. We discuss, among other things, the potential reasons why artists are left out of the majority of conversations about the future of music-tech; the importance of artist-residency programs within music and tech startups (of which Kiran was previously a participant); the myth of the "gut-versus-data" binary; and how international consumption trends are changing the type of visual content artists need to create. At the end, we discuss the surge in new lyric-display features on social-media platforms, and how artists rely heavily on tech platforms to determine the constraints of their creativity — perhaps to a fault.
Episode 11 (ft. Wyatt Jenkins): Why music isn't a top-two category on Patreon (yet)
Patreon's SVP Product Wyatt Jenkins joins this episode to dive into the opportunities and challenges around growing membership models in the music industry. We unpack the financial and ideological roadblocks to making music a top-two category on Patreon, why it's so difficult to bake both discovery and membership mechanisms into the same product and how Patreon might compete with music distribution platforms and other music-oriented software services in the long run, with respect to providing alternative sources of capital to independent artists. At the end, we discuss whether paywalled podcast apps and the Jonas Brothers' vinyl "club" are overrated or underrated.
NOTE: This episode was recorded in late June 2019, around a month before Patreon announced their $60 million Series D round, so we don't mention that funding here — but there's still lots to dig into around their future roadmap.
Episode 10 (ft. Alex Mitchell): How artificial intelligence will do to music creation what Instagram did to photography
Boomy founder/CEO Alex Mitchell joins this episode — recorded just an hour after Boomy launched out of beta! — to talk about the disruptive impact that artificial intelligence will have on music creation and distribution. We unpack why there's arguably no such thing as "A.I.-generated music," the importance of optimizing for creativity rather than for accuracy in music-composition algorithms, what the "win condition" would be for A.I. and music and why tools like Boomy could do to the music industry what Instagram did to photography. At the end, we discuss whether Splice's new research on extracting stems from musical recordings and Apple's reported investment in original podcasts are overrated or underrated.
Episode 9 (ft. Sammy Andrews): The music business needs to break down its own data silos
Deviate Digital CEO Sammy Andrews joins this episode to unpack why there remain so many stubborn data silos among artists, labels, distributors, promoters and streaming platforms in the music industry, and what steps we might be able to take to address the problem. We discuss the types of data that music companies would actually benefit from sharing *more* with each other, as well as the merits and drawbacks of breaking down silos through company diversification (e.g. management companies starting labels) and bundling (e.g. selling merch and digital music downloads together to game the charts). At the end, we discuss big-tech companies investing in different kinds of original content and the implications of Spotify backing Facebook's forthcoming cryptocurrency Libra.
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This podcast is pure gold. Cherie has a tremendous level of knowledge in music tech and it shows. I listen to this for news and because I highly value the opinion of Cherie. Very happy listener here.