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

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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.

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CREATIVE COLLABORATION IN BERLIN – MUSIC TECHNOLOGY AND ELECTRONIC MUSIC

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)

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MUSIC STREAMING – FUTURE STRATEGIES

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)

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IN CONVERSATION WITH VEVO – MUSIC VIDEOS, HOW DOES THAT WORK NOWADAYS?

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?

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DAFT PUNK, JAI PAUL AND THE DEATH OF MUSIC JOURNALISM

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)

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COPYRIGHT COLLECTING SOCIETIES AT THE EUROPEAN LEVEL – An evaluation of current developments

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 Younison.eu 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)

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FROM PIRATE BAY TO SPOTIFY AND BEYOND – THE STRUGGLE WITH THE DIGITALIZATION OF MUSIC IN SWEDEN

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 (http://www.presspauseplay.com/).

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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

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