time to change the way we view music and the arts

RE-cord RE-think RE-cover…Repeat?

Ever have one of those times, when you’re having a not-so-good day, that you suddenly find something that cheers you up and totally gets your mind off of whatever was bothering you? And I mean really cheers you up –something that you discover makes you happy and is that one thing that will do so no matter what.

I was having an off-day recently; thinking about things I wished I was doing instead of what was actually going on around me with work and life in general. To pass the time while I went about my normal routine, I tapped into the LiveStream of the ”ReThink Music” Conference panel discussions and listened to the ongoing dialogues between some of the most influential figure heads in the industry, debating serious issues like: The Music Cloud Phenomenon, Copyright (Infringement), Artist Development Models, Royalties and Compensation systems, the future of branding and record labels, etc. The only thing better than streaming the conversations would be to watch it in person. (Which I would have done had I found out about the conference one day sooner than the night before it started.) The conference was held from this past Monday through yesterday evening at the Hyman Convention Center in Boston, Massachusettes. It is the first of its kind and hopefully will not be the last, because some touchy questions were finally brought into the light and maybe enough disturbance to the placid lake was made to inspire some real re-evaluation of what’s been going on around us in the last 10+ years as music has gone digital and lost some of its way.

Courtesy of the ReThink Music Conference Homepage:

Rethink Music is a solutions-focused conference, bringing together all sides and viewpoints on the subjects of creativity, commerce, and policy to engage in critical dialogue examining the business and rights challenges facing the music industry in the digital era, and to formulate ideas for the creation and distribution of new music and other creative works. The event, presented in association with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and Harvard Business School, is the result of a research collaboration studying business models and copyright and how they impact the recorded music industry. Our goal is singular: to foster creativity and a thriving music industry, through offering creators, academics, and industry professionals the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns about the future, and by offering the global population the opportunity for involvement through our policy paper and business model competitions.

Help shape the future of music.

If you’ve read my short bio, you know how I feel about school and education. While I’ve come to accept that one must gain other types of experience outside of a lecture hall, it’s become even more obvious to me now, that I enjoy myself most (at least when it comes to work-related tasks) when stirring communication and intellectual sparring is involved. Music does need a serious rebooting and aside from having fun partying and writing music, (See below this paragraph) flaws were admitted, complaints were stated and proposals for alternative strategies were given for every music related platform imaginable. The conference itself is a giant collaboration; crossing continents with the France based music industry trade fair, MIDEM, (Marché International du Disque et de l’Edition Musicale,) being one of the main supporters of the event –alongside Harvard Business School and The Berklee College of Music. Powerful individual players of media and music came together to make this happen, in both the intellectual and monetary sense. Just look at the speakers and sponsors list! Both have quite the shock value.

(Ben Folds, Amanda Palmer, Damian Kulash and Neil Gaiman collaborated on the “8 in 8 Project: Eight songs in Eight Hours,” which were all performed at the conference as well. The finished products can be heard/purchased through Partyontheinternet.com. Scroll to the bottom of the page.)

Every facet of the industry was represented in some form, whether it be composers, publishers, engineers, artists, soloists, bands, DIY’ers major labels, indie labels, Rights Organizations, store retailers, lawyers, streaming services, music professors, and so on. The breadth of insight and combined experiential power contained in such a small area at one time is nothing short of thrilling if “rocking the industry boat” is what people are looking to do. I tell people and employers all the time that one of my dreams is to be part of a team where one day what I do and or how I do it will be part of that pivotal shift in the music industry’s growth and well-being. So a conference such as this spoke to the very essence of what I want my end career result to be. The cross-valuable skills and insights presented in the last three days could impact music going across the style and age spectrum and in that I see a light of hope. …Then again, in one of the panels, a question posed at the end was to know “What three things do you believe need to happen that would make everything ‘okay’ again for the business?” and every panelist included “total bankruptcy” a.k.a. “rock bottom” as one of their possible scenarios. I do hope a music apocalypse isn’t in order for things to get on the path to recovery.

And speaking of recovery, though this isn’t directly music related, it speaks volumes about the hopefully shrinking, but continually present, risk of relying on digital storage and interconnected technology to provide entertainment. Just a few days ago, it was formally announced by the Sony Corporation that their Playstation (Media) Network had been breached by a hacker. (Even though the breach occurred on April 21st.) As of today, the original presumption that all users’ credit information had been obtained has been clarified to specifically refer to their “user information,” which is claimed as being isolated from credit data. All the same, Sony is still in plenty of hot water over this problem for a stack of reasons; none of the least is the fact that their network is presently down entirely for security adjustments.

The value I see coming from this identity disaster is a preventative lesson available to anyone with reach to this story. With so much of music’s evolution gravitating around digital and intertwined means of access, companies and individuals really ought to think twice about what websites, servers and systems they are prying into for things like peer-to-peer file sharing and cooperation-centric projects. (e.g. Up-in-coming cooperative music service mentioned at ReThink Music called “Indaba Music.”) I have mentioned before about the double edged sword of computer access when Limewire was shut down and this is just another unfortunate reminder of a similar kind of danger. Hackers, viruses and faulty power lines are always going to exist. So once again, there is always, (in my opinion,) going to be value in back up copies of back ups as long as at least one of those can be held in your hand. I don’t care whether you’re old school or new school. If your hard drive crashes and you lose the only source of your data, you are in serious, irreversible trouble. And having experienced the spontaneous corruption of a portable drive in college, which had hours of in-progress recording work on it, I can tell you first hand about the upsetting reality of having technology abruptly fail you and having no alternative plan in place.

Unfortunately I was not able to post yesterday, although I meant to, in light of the passing of singer Phoebe Snow, who died on Tuesday, April 26th at the age of 60. A folk rock singer with not too many hits, but if you talk to the right crowd, everyone will know who you’re referring to. Although a specific cause of death hasn’t been outlined for the public, it has been spread among many news sources that Snow did suffer a brain hemorrhage back in January of last year. Her most well-known hit was 1974’s “Poetry Man,” as posted below via YouTube. I had seen her perform live once five years ago with my mother and a couple of friends in the summer at an outdoor concert. It was a good time. Snow will be missed and remembered by musicians, friends, family and fans alike.

Phoebe Snow

Poetry Man

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