Music and Technology – Talks and Discussions from the Berlin Music Week conference 2013


newthinking and all2gethernow together have curated the conference programme of this year’s Berlin Music Week conference, in particular the thematic focus on Music + Technology. The conference took place on September 5/6, 2013.

Some impressions and pictures of the event are published here and here.

Some selected talks and discussions in English are published online. The talks provide a resource on current debates in the music business, with a particular focus on the impact of digital media on the music business.



Berlin is one of the most important centres for electronic music in the world. The city’s extensive network of producers, DJs, clubs, labels and record stores attract thousands of people from all over the world. At the same time, a thriving music technology scene has developed in Berlin that has produced Ableton and Native Instruments, two world leaders in the field. This rich environment has also spawned several smaller companies and projects that have done their part to establish the music-tech scene.

Why is the scene for music technology and electronic music centred in Berlin? How do music tech developers and artists work together here in Berlin? Where and how do they find mutual inspiration? And how can people maybe improve their collaboration locally? And can local politics in Berlin make a contribution?

Moderation: Sascha Kösch (de:bug)
Speakers: Dennis DeSantis (Ableton), Florian Schneidmadel (Native Instruments), Peter Kirn (Create Digital Music), Sasha Perera (Jahcoozi), Jan Werner (Mouse on Mars)



In this industry expert discussion, three leading streaming services will open up their desk drawers and give a glimpse into their strategies for the coming months and years. Streaming is increasingly becoming people’s first choice for listening to music, in many places of the world. Therefore, the way streaming services are designed is important to musicians, labels and publishers, to all music content providers, but also to app developers and companies providing add on services. Aspects to look into range from the streamers’ business models, to their technological design; their way of communicating with listeners and clients, to the interfaces they provide to app developers.

What are the strategies of some of the main streaming companies on the market? How will the market differentiate? What can content providers prepare for?

Moderation: Andrew Dubber (Birmingham City University)
Speakers: Stefan Baumschlager (Rdio), Laurent Billion (Deezer), Andy Chen (WiMP)



Digital music journalist Andrea Leonelli engages in a conversation with Eric Mackay of the Major label driven, online music video channel VEVO.

Topics on the agenda will be:
Making music videos available on a global scale – VEVO aims to make their music videos accessible worldwide, quite naturally on the Internet, however difficult with the different national licensing peculiarities. How does the company approach international expansion? And how does it deal with local content?
Cooperations and negotiations – In the process of making copyrighted content available worldwide, VEVO engages with different players in the field. How do they cooperate with YouTube and Google on the one hand, and how do negotiations come out with the local collecting agencies on the other. How is VEVO dealing with GEMA and is the channel going to launch in Germany? What can be learnt from VEVO’s negotiations with GEMA?
Commercial interest in music videos – What’s the business model behind a music video channel such as VEVO? What is to be learnt from this for independent musicians and labels who are publishing their videos on YouTube and other video platforms?



Now more than ever before, the music world in 2013 is entirely focused around well executed and sensational PR campaigns that are planned down to the smallest detail – bands such as DAFT PUNK, BOARDS OF CANANDA or KANYE WEST immediately spring to mind. It seems PR companies and record labels are determined to set the agenda for music journalism.

This raises the question: What’s the state of music journalism today?

Given the apparent necessity to achieve ever-more clicks and increased circulation, it is essential to clarify how much scope still remains for reviews and contextualization in order for journalists to maintain real separation from the increasingly wide-scale marketing strategies of the music industry. Vice-versa, it also needs to be asked what the other side of the music industry can expect from reviews.

Moderation: Henning Lahmann (No Fear Of Pop)
Speakers: John Doran (The Quietus), Alexandra Droener (DJ, Promoter), Francine Gorman (The Line Of Best Fit), Ruth Saxelby (Dummy), Melissa Taylor (Tailored Communication)



A movement is sweeping through the European music scene and its copyright collecting societies. With newfound confidence, musicians from Europe are not only having their voices heard in Brussels; organisations, such or the UK’s Featured Artists Coalition, are now in constant attendance at hearings alongside well-known copyright collecting societies.

The latest draft makes new demands on existing collecting societies and proposes new models with regards to those established in SIGA (Portugal) and C3S (Germany/Europe).

The panel puts forward two key questions: Are the new collecting models accommodating the needs of European musicians? And if yes, how? And how can European policy, music culture and new copyright collecting societies travel this path together?

Speakers: m.eik Michalke (C3S), Paulo Manuel Mesquita Leite (SIGA), Kelvin Smits (Younison), Shigs Amemiya (iMusician), Roxanne de Bastion (Featured Artist Coalition)



Adam Svanell will tell the story of Sweden’s struggle with the digitalization of music. How governmental IT projects in the 90’s helped create a generation of young music lovers with expertise in hacking and programming,some creating legal services, some creating illegal ones. And how the biggest enemy of the music industry, The Pirate Bay, actually forced Swedish record companies to find a new, sustainable business model. Today the country who used to be the black sheep of the music industry is becoming a poster child.

Adam Svanell is a Swedish journalist, currently working as editor for the Sunday arts section of the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. He was the producer of the documentary film Press Pause Play (


OCCUPY MUSIC – Making a documentary about the music collective Fora do Eixo in Brazil

Andrew Dubber, lecturer in Music Industries Innovation, has just returned from researching and filming a documentary about independent music collectives in Brazil, the Fora do Eixo in particular.

The network connects a wide range of cultural producers, festivals, record labels, artists and other small, local music enterprises through open source online tools and a range of different collaborative methodologies that range from distribution systems to gig swaps. They have together developed a separate economy outside of the mainstream music industry… to the point of working with their own currency inside the collective. So far so good – when looking at the scale of the operations, it gets really interesting. Today, the Fora do Eixo incorporates 200 cities, 30.000 artists, 6.000 shows a year, and turns over a value of around $44m within Brazil.

Although the movement is not above criticism, it’s fair to say that through collaborative practice and a rejection of the corporate structures of the traditional music industries, the overall economic value of music activity in the country has been enormously lifted. The network was initially both inspired and enabled by the innovations of Brazilian Culture Minister Gilberto Gil, who revolutionized Brazil’s approach to culture by moving the focus outside of the cultural and economic ‘axis’ of Rio and São Paulo.

Andrew Dubber shared his findings and analysis from interviewing people engaged in the music business all over Brazil.

Andrew Dubber, Birmingham City University

Making of a Berlin club festival, showcasing Berlin Music scenes


A radio show / podcast looking behind the scenes of Torstraßen Festival, a club festival in the Berlin district Mitte, that took place on 31st August 2013. Torstraßen Festival features mostly Berlin-based and Berlin-connected artists, and is at the same time very international. It showcases the international music scenes meeting, working and living in Berlin.

Listen to the podcast: S*P*A*R* #30 – TSF13.

Melissa Perales and Andrea Goetzke, two of the festival curators and organizers, select some of their favorite songs from the festival soundtrack.

They also talk about the discussion on Music Culture in Berlin Mitte, starting off the festival on Friday, 30 August.

And they talk about the festival overall, how it showcases international Berlin-based and -connected music scenes, how the festival involves the neighbourhood, they introduce the co-curators of the festival etc.

To learn more, reading the introductions to all festival artists, with links, videos, sound files, written by our colleague Norman Palm, is recommended.

all2gethernow: Training activities for Musicians and People they work with


all2gethernow is a German association founded in 2009 with the objective to work on new strategies in music business and music culture, through bringing people together for discussions, exchanges of perspectives and experiences, and mutual learning.

With newthinking, we have collaborated with all2gethernow in producing various events for musicians and people they work with. Some examples are documented here:

November 2011: a2n Unconvention Factory At the a2n Unconvention Factory, all2gethernow in cooperation with Un-Convention, converted the Kater Holzig gallery in Berlin in a recording studio, and produced an album in a day, with 9 tracks by different artists. Designers, photographers, web developers, producers, musicians … who didn’t know each other before, came together in the morning – and had jointly produced an album together by the following day. The event was open for everyone to pass by, engage, ask questions. The album is available on CD in screenprinted CD cases alongside with posters, and as digital download (finetunes, iTunes) and stream (Simfy, soundposter):

September 2012: #a2n_werkstatt – The #a2n_werkstatt is a training event for musicians and people they work with, with various workshops, coaching sessions and hands-on experiments. all2gethernow has produced #a2n_werkstatt events over several years. The 2-day #a2n_werkstatt in 2012 is documented in German and with pictures here:,

Some podcasts on Berlin music scenes


This may be of interest regarding popular culture and popular music developments in Berlin. Some radio shows / podcasts that I have produced over the past year, with interviews of some protagonists of Berlin Music scenes. The radio shows have been aired on the Berlin based free artist radio

S*P*A*R* #19 – Expats // Berlin // Music Scenes I, produced on 28 April 2012:

S*P*A*R* #20 – Expats // Berlin // Music Scenes II, produced on 26 May 2012:

S*P*A*R* #29 – Queer // Music // Berlin, produced on 29 June 2013:

New Music Strategies

New Music Strategies is a pan-European strategy group for music culture, creativity and development created by Andrew Dubber, Professor of Music Industries Innovation at Birmingham City University. The members of the NMS group are based in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, and represent a wide range of expertise in the music and cultural industries.

NMS initiates ideas and projects, and work in partnership with organisations to make the most of music in response to transformative media technologies. They use their creativity, curiosity and expertise to make a difference and simplify the new music environment.

As their website states,”We work with people we like on cool projects about music and culture – and help bring more music to more people in more places.”

Some examples of the work NMS undertakes:

  • Help music businesses make strategic decisions about innovative projects.
  • Work with NGOs to use music to achieve their objectives.
  • Generate new ideas with music organisations.
  • Create information products and run workshops within existing industry events.
  • Combine our expertise to initiate innovative projects that enhance and celebrate music culture.

For more information about New Music Strategies visit their website:

Making money out of music: how can regional music economies remain successful


Tim Wall is Professor of Radio and Popular Music Studies at Birmingham City Centre. In 2007 he was commissioned by Digital Central to conduct some research into Regional Music Economies. Here Tim’s overview of his work, plus a link to a copy of the report.

Music makes money when people pay for it, and creates jobs for those who supply it. In the music industry you have a job because you add something to a stage of music production. Joining the music-makers who account for 17 per cent of employment in the music industry are retail jobs accounting for nearly one third of employees, record companies employees at about 15 per cent, and the remaining third or so in equal numbers from composition, venues, recording studios, equipment manufacture, music broadcasting, video production, and journalism. The process of getting music to people who will pay for it and then making sure they pay for it – and maybe even encouraging them a bit – involves a lot of people. And it involves a lot of technology. Estimates of how much money is actually made from music, and how many people are employed, differ considerably.

There tends to be an emphasis on recorded music and sales of records as the core source of revenue. The UK Department for Culture Media and Sport values annual revenue from music making at £5bn annually, £1.3bn of which they estimate comes in exports earnings, and suggests 130,000 are employed in the sector as artists, composers, publishers, producers, managers, agents, promoters and record company and online music entrepreneurs. By including retail, music broadcasting and journalism, recording and equipment, and entertainment venues the employment and value figure can quadruple.

There is an important line that connects small-scale local businesses to the operations of the major entertainment corporations. From the point of view of the A&R departments in the major companies, and to many of the long-term local survivors, that line is a simple one: the local gigs are where the new talent first becomes apparent; the local music managers and record companies are where they get their first big breaks; and the experience of the ‘old hands’ takes them through to the wider sales of national recognition and the major record company contract. From the point of view of the sales and marketing teams of the major companies, and the local venue and retail entrepreneurs, there is another line: the locality is where the big name stars sell their records, play a night of a national tour, or merely act as the sound track to a good night out. This isn’t a regional music economy, but one corner of a global one.

There is another regional music economy though. Most major European cities have a thriving entertainment quarter where a formerly forgotten land of warehouses and rundown commercial properties has been transformed. A few minutes watching the money pass over the till tells you music is business. And back from the bars, clubs and live venues there are small recording studios, music managers, graphic designers, and equipment hire. These clusters of small businesses have become the focus of attention for departments of state, economic development agencies and city councils. They are now officially part of the ‘Cultural Industries’, and it’s argued that it’s these businesses that can make the city more attractive to live in, that can expand in the declining, low rent areas, of the city and bring them back to life, and more fundamentally that they can make money and create jobs. They are seen as part of our post industrial future.

In the full report you can download below I explore the basics of how music can make money and create jobs in a regional economy; how global music economies work and what their implications are for regions outside a capital city; and how regional policies and strategies could both expand and sustain such a regional music economy.

At the heart of the matter are some fundamental issues about the relationship between the city, the wider region in which it sits, and the capitals of commercial culture where the major companies are based; between music culture and music commerce; and between entrepreneurial spirit and planning. Is there an economic benefit to the locality when it is the source for a new generation of international music stars? How can a local music scene be sustained if it’s simply a transit camp for the talent, and an outpost of consumption for a global entertainment industry? How can we encourage people who make a successful living out of music to make that living in our locality? How can we convert at least some of those pounds spent locally on music and entertainment into local jobs? What’s the difference between subsidising local culture and investing in its economic future? In turn I look at how music makes money and creates jobs; what constitutes a regional music economy; and music’s place in the knowledge-driven cluster economy and in urban culture. I give particular attention to how music economies have developed, and to the challenges of the new digital online music economy. The final section offers some basic conclusions for a regional music development strategy.

Download the full report Making money out of music

UK Music launches Skills Academies


Some interesting news from the world of Vocational Education and Music Industry Training here in the UK.

UK Music, an umbrella organisation representing the collective interests of the UK’s commercial music industry, from artists, musicians, songwriters and composers, to major and independent record labels, managers, music publishers, studio producers and collecting societies, have joined forces with Creative & Cultural Skills to launch The UK Music Skills Academy, the first industry-led effort to improve recruitment practices in the music business.

Music Week, the leading Music Industry trade publication in the UK, has more here:

Andrew Dubber’s “20 Things You Must Know About Online Music”


Andrew Dubber is Professor of Music Industries Innovation at Birmingham City University. He’s a member of the Centre for Media and Cultural Research, and is Award Leader for the MA in Music Industries (which can be studied online via distance learning from anywhere in the world) and also runs the MA in Music Radio.

He is the founder of New Music Strategies, a pan-European music consultancy and strategy organisation focusing primarily on non-commercial and social projects that use music to improve lives. He is also a member of the Board of Advisors for Bandcamp. He can be found online at


His 2007 eBook, “The 20 Things You Must Know About Online Music“, has been downloaded thousands of times and has been made available in several different languages, including German, Chinese and Portuguese. The book is a prime example of how research activity at BCU is translated into practical engagement with the music industries. It’s currently being updated and incorporated into the much bigger and more comprehensive book, Music In The Digital Age.

Download the free eBook – The 20 Things You Must Know About Online Music

Varna, Bulgaria Mobility, May 2013

In May 2013 Matt Grimes and I were part of the BCU delegation that went on a mobility to Varna, Bulgaria as part of the IMMHIVE project.

Matt is the Degree Leader for Music Industries here at BCU, whilst I am a visiting lecturer on the same degree course. Our task for the 3-day visit was to undertake an investigation into the music scene in the city, and in particular to explore vocational education, music heritage and tourism, and the music industries.

We were fortunate enough to meet a few people from Varna who were heavilty involved in the independent music scene in the city. They were kind enough to sit and be interviewed.

Maria Grozeva is a music journalist with experience of working in Varna and elsewhere in Bulgaria. She is also a university graduate and had some useful insights into vocational education in Bulgaria.

Kobo Tsetkov is a musician who plays in a number of bands, most notably the Ska-Punk band High 5. In the video he talks about the local music scene, and also how he was taught to play guitar by a famous Bulgarian jazz-man.

As well as being kind enough to talk to us at length about their own experiences, Kobo and Maria also took us on a tour of musical points of interest in the city. This short video is an edited version of what was a fascinating and often very funny tour.

Maria, Kobo and others we met reported feeling ‘outside’ of the dominant culture in Varna. So much so that different sub-cultural groups (punks, Hip Hop fans, metal fans) often grouped together and acted as one larger group, which is interesting if you consider the often tribal nature and behaviour of sub-cultural groups in the UK. The Metal Shop in the city also served as the only dedicated outlet for Hip Hop, which would appear to support this.

Varna is located on the Black Sea and, along with being a port, is a popular seaside resort. Along the beachfront there are numerous nightclubs and bars offering various forms of music-related entertainment. By far the most popular, it would seem, is a form of music known as Shalga. A Bulgarian student here at BCU advised us ahead of our trip that Shalga had taken many of the visually prominent images often associated with certain types of US Hip Hop (expensive cars, jewellery, semi-naked women, etc) as it’s basis. This would certainly seem to be born out in the way in which Shalga is promoted around the city.

Matt and I also had some time during which we explored on our own, and we managed to take a lot of photographs between us. Hopefully these, along with the videos above, convey a sense of what we found during our visit.

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The origins of the Birmingham Music Archive

The Birmingham Music Archive was created by BCU’s Jez Collins and aims to celebrate and preserve the rich musical heritage of the city that gave the world Black Sabbath, UB40, Dexys Midnight Runners, Duran Duran, and many, many more,

In this short video, made for the Independent Music Innovation course developed in 2013 by BCU staff, Jez talks about his motivation for setting up Birmingham Music Archive and how the origins of the archive relate to innovation and entrepreneurship in the music industries

Independent Music Innovation – Jez Collins – Entrepreneurship and Innovation from BCMCR on Vimeo.