MusicConnectTO: Exploring Emerging Media and Music
Date: Thursday, October 28th @ 6pm
Where: Gladstone Hotel, Toronto, ON
With so many different perspectives (labels, fans, artists, promoters, publishers, radio and many others) and the financial impact it is having on each group, it is always the right time to openly discuss and try to better understand the challenges we all face as technology and cultural changes advance faster than we can comfortably comprehend and respond to.
This open music event organized by Karim Kanji and his team, hope to connect the music industry with fans so that the debate and discussions will be both direct and meaningful. This is the perfect opportunity to move away from a conformational mindset to one that will lead to a better understanding of the issues and therefore the right mindset to develop viable and long-term industry solutions.
The evening will feature a panel of experts who are deep in the trenches, working through the technological and cultural upheaval that each of their organizations are currently facing.
The panel will be moderated by David Newland and the lineup of panelists will ensure this will be a spirited and healthy discussion:
Greg Nisbet, Founder
Aidan Nulman, Founder
Trevor Guy, Vice President
Last Gang Records
Boris Chan, Principal
Lisa MacKay, Director of Marketing
After the panel concludes, there will be an opportunity to continue to discussion over drinks with fellow attendees, so this is a special event that should not be missed!
If you are in Toronto or surrounding area, I highly recommend you register (space is limited) and share some of your experiences, insights and ideas.
As well, photos have been added to the Flickr Group Pool and can be viewed on the right side of this blog. Please feel free to add any photos to the Flickr Pool.
“How will location based services help me as an artist?”
This was one of the many questions that sparked a lively discussion at our most recent OpenMusicMedia Toronto meetup.
Jonas Woost, formerly of Last.FM joined us and facilitated the discussion about local music and location based service. Opinions and thoughts were mixed as is to be expected when encountering a nascent technology. Some people are quite excited and have embraced it, while others are not so sure yet how these services will benefit them. It is an exciting time for music fans and artists!
“It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it”
In very simple terms, what we do know is that artists want to grow their fan base, venues/clubs want to fill their rooms to sell more food/drinks and fans want personal recommendations (music/concert listings) tailored to their tastes and location. How will location based services serve each one of these different groups? And will everyone be on board?
Being a new technology, it was difficult to pin down any definite answers, as there we just as many questions as ideas/solutions. We are starting to see creative experimentation by the likes of McDonalds and Pepsi, so it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing how artists come up with their own creative ideas. We touched upon services like Bandsintown, Songkick, LastFM, Foursquare and Gowalla and how they are currently being used and how they can be used in the future to support the local music scene. Apple has iGroups up their sleeve and Facebook is also rumoured to be working on something. We are in the earlier innings.
“There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees”
The discussion could have lasted the night and it was very interesting to listen to different opinions and ideas. I’m certain that the topic will be addressed again at a future OpenMusicMedia meetup. In the meantime, let’s keep the discussion going whether it’s here on the blog or on Twitter. There is a lot more to come!
We really want to thank Jonas for joining us. It was our best turnout and it was great to see the regulars come out, as well as meeting a whole new group of people. Having a good cross section of technologists, tech startups, web developers, radio, record labels and music promoters came out to share their experiences and make new connections always lends itself to a very vibrant meetup. We look forward to seeing you again and please stay tuned for information about our next OpenMusicMedia Toronto meetup.
OpenMusicMedia Toronto #3 – Location, Location, Location:
The date is now set for the next OpenMusicMedia here in Toronto on Wednesday May 12th, 2010 – (note the new venue – C’est What on Front St. E)
We are pleased that Jonas Woost will be joining us from Vancouver where he will kick off the discussion about music and location based services and the role these services will have on the music industry, in particular supporting local music. He will share with us examples of services like Foursquare, Songkick.com Soundtrckr.com and Last.fm which could be used by artists, advertisers and fans for social/music discovery, advertising and commerce purposes.
From here, the discussion is wide open and we encourage you to share with us from your perspective as a fan, artist, label, radio station or technologist what you think of these services, which one’s you like and the type of features that are important to you that would enhance your enjoyment of music. We also can’t forget to consider the role and influence that radio can still have when focused on the local music scene.
A brief bio for those who don’t know Jonas. He started working in the music industry at the age of sixteen having been involved with radio, the record labels and technology.
He has worked in a variety of roles including communications and publicity. and most recently was the Head of Music at Last.fm in London where he worked closely with record labels, artists and copyright owners from around the world. Jonas and his team were in charge of acquiring content as well as maintaining relationships with these parties.
Jonas is regularly invited to speak publicly at international conferences to discuss issues within the digital music and media business, including Popkomm (Berlin), Canadian Music Week (Toronto), In The City (Manchester), NARM (USA), Porto Musical (Recife, Brazil) and Futuresonic (Manchester).
He’s also the co-founder of the original OpenMusicMedia meetup that started in London, UK.
At the start of 2010 Jonas moved to Vancouver to set up his digital media consultancy.
OpenMusicMedia Toronto #3 Meetup Details:
Date: Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
Time: 5:30pm – 9pm (evening will start very casually with everyone enjoying food/drinks and connecting with each other before we dive into the group discussion at 6:30pm)
Location: C’est What (http://www.cestwhat.com)
67 Front Street East
Toronto, Ontario (view map)
What: OpenMusicMedia Toronto is a chance to get together on a semi-regular basis for drinks & conversation around the past, present and future intersection of music, media and digital culture. The purpose of the group will be for people with similar interests and passions to meet and discuss in a relaxed and open environment. There are no vested interests, no politics and no agendas.
Who: Open to music label folks, journalists, social media types, entrepreneurs, technologists/developers, music geeks, music bloggers and future thinkers.
Cost: The meetup is FREE and open to everyone. All we gratefully ask is if you can RSVP here.
Theme: Each meetup will feature a theme or topic that will drive the discussion for the evening. For our third meetup, Jonas Woost will kick off the conversation about music and location based services.
Come on out, enjoy a drink and meet people passionate about music and contribute to the conversation! We look forward to seeing you.
If you have any questions or need to contact us, please send us an email.
It has been awhile since the last OMM meetup and plans are underway for the next one which we expect to be around mid-May (keep the week of May 10th in mind). The topic (mobile apps/location based services) will definitely be timely/relevant given all the talk and buzz around services like Foursquare and Gowalla, as well as the recent launch of the iPad and upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 and iPhone hardware release.
In addition, we are very excited to have Jonas Woost, who was most recently the Head of Music at LastFM and is one of the founders of OpenMusicMedia London visit us here in Toronto to be part of the discussion.
Details (location/date/topic) will be announced very soon…
Gabe and Josh
In spite of the first major winter storm which turned Toronto into one messy slushy, we had a pretty good turn-out for the second OpenMusicMedia Toronto meetup.
The hot topic of discussion centered around access versus ownership. With Apple’s recent purchase of Lala, MOG’s launch at the beginning of the month and Spotify’s long-awaited launch in the US, the music streaming theme was very timely. There was no shortage of thoughts and opinions, and although not everyone agreed on the best approach or solutions, the ideas and opinions generated vigorous debates which helped to broaden and sharpen our thinking.
Greg Nisbet, CEO and founder of Mediazoic, a real-time streaming service, prepared this talk that challenged us to look beyond the technology and dig deeper into human behaviour and our interaction with music and technology. For those who couldn’t make the event, please read Greg’s “OMM_TO #2 Talk: Access vs. Ownership: Paying Attention To Consumer Behavior” and share your thoughts and reactions.
2010 will continue being another year of excitement and disruption with mobile and music streaming becoming emerging mainstream trends. Consuming media will be more streamlined and seamless. Gone will be the days where we have to physically dock our mobile devices, carefully selecting the music/videos we want to take with us on our space limited device and then sync all this media. Cloud access will become central to our lives which helps alleviate the worries of safe guarding our locally stored music collections, provides in-air syncing and gives us access to nearly every piece of recorded music we can imagine.
But of course, disruptive technology goes hand-in-hand with changes in thinking and behaviour. People are looking at streaming music with a cautious but optimistic eye. Each person has to consider and weigh in their minds issues of privacy, control, confidence and trust. A few people at the meetup enthusiastically stated they are ready to embrace the “cloud” and have no worries or concerns putting their trust and faith in these services. Others were quick to point out reasons where ownership allows more freedom and flexibility. You are not beholden to any service and you will always have access to your music, regardless of circumstance. (lost internet access, off the grid, location etc)
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the question of access versus ownership. Lala is a service that blurs the line between the two by allowing you to upload your own music and combine with music streams you purchase. By purchasing Lala, Apple is signaling that marrying a digital download model with a music subscription streaming service is probably not too far off. As the world’s largest music retailer, Apple has the clout and consumer base to lead the next shift in digital media distribution and consumption. We also need to consider the roles that Amazon and Google will play in all this. Both huge companies with the infrastructure, talent and money to make media streaming work should they ever make their move.
This discussion is going to play out well into 2010. It’s going to be very exciting to see who the key players will be and how consumers will respond.
We hope that anyone who is interested in music, digital media and culture can make it to a future OpenMusicMedia Toronto meetup and be part of the conversations. The discussions are deep, passionate and intelligent and the atmosphere is fun and relaxed. We are working hard to bring the music and tech community in Toronto together and we are glad to see new connections and friendships being made. To everyone who has supported us this year, thank-you very much.
We will be posting details of OpenMusicMedia Toronto #3 in the New Year, so pleased keep your eyes posted here on our blog or catch us on Twitter
If you have any comments, feedback of suggestions, we would love to hear from you. Send us an email
Happy Holidays and may 2010 be an amazing year for you and your families!
Preface: Greg Nisbet of Mediazoic prepared this talk for OpenMusic Media Toronto #2 held on Wednesday, December 9th. The focus of the discussion that evening was about music access versus ownership and Greg gave us something ponder on beyond the usual tech angle.
By Greg Nisbet
The Pilot Tavern in Toronto played host to the second OpenMusicMedia meetup in Toronto on Wednesday. Given the recent acquisition of digital music service LaLa by Apple, and the launch of music video service Vevo, a hot topic of debate in the digital music space is one of “access vs. ownership”.
“Music services such as Spotify, MOG, Last.fm, and Grooveshark are increasing in popularity due to their ease in delivering music content as a seamless experience across both desktop and mobile devices” said Josh Newman, the Toronto event’s co-organizer, “Does this spell the end for iTunes and the whole notion of actually needing to own content?”
Below is a slightly expanded version of the talk I prepared in answer to that question.
Before we start, I want to do a quick survey about music listening habits of those in the room.
1. Does your iTunes have more than 3000 songs?
2. Do you listen to music on your cell phone?
3. Where do you listen to most of your music: home stereo system, computer, mobile device?
4. Where do you get most of your new music recommendations?
So, we have a group that stores a lot of music digitally, listens to music on cell phones and computers, and uses internet streaming services to discover new music. Which means that most people in this room are completely atypical of the general population. According to a study recently released by the Council of Research Excellence, almost 80% of US adults listen to broadcast radio on a daily basis, as opposed to a little over 10% of people to mp3 players, and only about 1% to music on mobile phones.
I was asked to speak about music access vs. ownership, and I am going to do that, a little.
I’m only going to talk about it a little because, in my opinion, access vs. ownership is the wrong question. The simple answer of course is both – both are important, but neither is the way forward for the music business. I have written before that the compulsion to collect is a human behaviour that will not disappear. So, the urges to collect vinyl, CDs, or files will hang on for a while, and even as they may respectively fade, the variety of access sources will have given birth to the urge to collect not files but sources of music, becoming another collectible, another thing to hoard and manage.
The much-discussed way forward for the music business is of course incredibly complex, consisting of whatever group of models people can extract revenue from, including access, ownership, curation, advertising, subscriptions, merch, live shows and whatever else people will pay for. Indeed, there are many people out there who will tell you there is absolutely nothing wrong with the music business, that there is more great music being made and more great music being found than ever before. What people mean when they talk about music’s decline is that the income is not as concentrated. For artists, my sense is that it is just about as easy to break as an artist now than it was 30 years ago. You have more opportunities, and you have more competition. This certainly isn’t my area of expertise, so I’m going to focus on the other two entities in the artist/company/fan triangle.
For companies, it’s still about the two things it’s always been about – how you execute and who you know. There’s a reason why there are only four major record labels – as the industry formed and grew, only four music companies managed to execute on a grand level. Their models may be changing, but these companies aren’t going away any time soon. Let’s put their woes into perspective. For Universal for example, the largest of the major labels, profits in the first half of 2009 were down 23.1 percent to $302.4 million. So, they aren’t losing money, they are still making a tidy profit, just not as tidy as before. Unless you are a Vivendi shareholder, this is hardly cause for concern. The major labels folks are still the ones who hang out with the tv execs, movie moguls, most of the world’s most successful musicians, and even the new kids on the media money block like Google and Apple execs. They will continue to find ways to work together and extract money from it however they can. Whether it’s YouTube with label-backed Vevo or Apple with label-sponsored LaLa, we can continue to expect to see successful models converge toward each other and the less successful model consumed or crushed.
Much is made about the ascendance of “access” models such as Spotify, Pandora, MOG, Last.fm, Grooveshark and Rhapsody, and, for the ones that rely more on advertising than subscriptions, that hype is balanced by the sober second thinkers who justifiably point to the difficulty of sustaining decent CPM rates in a very crowded online advertising space. Certainly, if you’re going to have an advertising model and hope to keep “big music” at bay, you’re going to need tremendous resilience, and you’re going to have to be very good at selling advertising, because you’re going up against current media masters like Google and CBS (owners of last.fm), who are tapped into the truly gargantuan flows of ad buying.
I don’t think it should surprise anyone that, in the same way that many smaller edgier music labels eventually ended up under the umbrellas of big labels, smaller ad-based services are going to end up under these types of big media umbrellas.
For consumers, for fans, it comes down to behaviour. I’ve previously mentioned my sense that the key question for someone building or marketing a great product isn’t “what do my customers want”, it’s “what are my customers doing”. I see most of the “access” models out there right now as not much different from the “ownership” models – both are akin in traditional terms to the record store. Even if you go back to when record stores were flourishing, it was radio that pointed most of record stores’ customers in their direction, and more people ever listened to radio than went into record stores. So, many of the folks online may love their “all you can eat” access models, but until those models can figure out a way to integrate into what the masses already do both online and offline, they are still a long way away from crossing over into the kind of mass market nirvana in which Google or Apple reside. I think what some of these services are doing with mobile is quite interesting, and is certainly an attempt to do that, but we won’t see any real results any time soon, as it will still be a while before most people are really into music on their phones.
The means of delivery, then, are to me less interesting than the trends, the human habits, that cut across media. Taken from that perspective, the tools of the future for music are the tools that cross media. The genius of the iPod or of Google is partly in the execution of course, but it’s really in understanding the human behaviour that drives it. So, Google understood that there was going to be a huge pile of digital stuff, and that people have a real need to sift through it, and so they focused on a super-simple interface to capitalize on and then monetize that behaviour. And Apple understood that people wanted stuff from all over the place all in one place (iPod, iTunes, iPhone, even integration of Windows into Macs) and they built software and devices allowing them to do that. Microcosms of the cross-media shift already exist anywhere from last.fm on the Xbox to the success of music as a soundtrack to movies and television commercials but, for the most part, they are still microcosms.
The behaviour I’m most interested in for my business is the natural human compulsion to look for curators, human filters and processors. Sure, anybody can find great stuff if they really want to, more on the Internet than ever before, provided they have the time, the resources, and the knowledge, but most people don’t, so they need someone they trust to curate it for them. Maybe they’ve had a long day, they’re busy with their own projects, they’re consuming other media, whatever – most people just aren’t that into hunting for stuff, unless it’s to pursue their real passion. Think of publishing. If everybody really wanted to go out and find great content, libraries would be full. Anybody know the trick to getting a hit in the publishing world – what’s the best thing you can do to start earning a real living as an author? Getting signed by a publisher? Self-publishing on Amazon? These things help, and are important steps, but there’s only one true secret of success. Get on Oprah.
Music access models without good curation tools are like libraries. Music’s great curators have historically been radio and record labels. For the majority of people, those are still the great curators, but that is where I see most of the change taking place going forward. If the decline of radio and major label profits is pretty much as simple as having more media through which music fans can consume the product, then the opportunity lies in enabling music curators in those media. The vacuum that exists for the next great curation model, if there is one, is one that leverages not algorithms but existing trust relationships with curators in existing media channels, not specific to music, that music fans are already using.
Following a recent article in Variety, there was some speculation in the blogosphere wondering if Oprah would ever recommend music the way she recommends books. Oprah is a book lover, and we know now that her run on television is almost over, so there’s not chance of that ever happening, but I think if we re-phrase the question, there might be some more interesting answers, and it’s that re-phrased question I will leave you with here. When you answer it, think not only of Oprah but of the incredible variety of macro and micro celebrities that cut across all niches in all media.
What if, at the beginning, Oprah had gotten into recommending music instead of books?
Greg Nisbet is a storyteller, music lover, and entrepreneur who has worked in jobs as varied as busker, actor, safari guide, private school principal, and mergers and acquisitions broker. He is the founder of an Internet media start-up called Mediazoic. He also enjoys sharing his ideas on the use of technology and social media in presentations, workshops, and carefully chosen consulting contracts.