Has Tech Killed the Music Industry?

Watch this one hour debate asking the question, “Has tech killed the music industry?” For the first of Virgin’s Disruptors events they’ve taken to the Virgin Records 40th anniversary exhibition in Central London, assembling an expert panel to discussing that question. Powered by Google+ Hangout On Air, they streamed in their panelists from all over the globe to debate this controversial topic. The panelists are: will.i.am, Imogen Heap, Trevor Skeet of Spotify, Amanda Palmer, Zoe Keating, Nic Jones of Vevo and Ian Hogarth of Songkick.

The panelists asks questions like,

“Is it the the artist responsibility to communicate and interact with their fans via social media? Are the music services putting any money back into the artist’s creative process for the music they are profiting from? Should artists have direct access to statistics on these various music services? How can all these services interact with each other to connect the listener more directly with the artist? How can tech kill the music industry when the music industry is made of tech?”

Here are some of the highlights from the discussion:

“You can’t expect to get anywhere with an artist unless you’re willing to let them have a voice. If they’re not in the know, they’re going to kick your ass. The problem that all the technology companies are having is not having the respect to go to the artists and say to them ‘we need to have a conversation’. ”
Scooter Braun

“There are a lot of artists out there that don’t wanna be technological warriors, they don’t wanna create a whole new fucking platform. They just wanna make music. For the many, many, many artists who don’t necessarily want to delve into the tech business and engage in this way, my question is what about them? Are we going to lose an entire generation of musicians and artmakers and creators? Whose responsibility is it: is it going to be this Darwinian thing where they just disappear because they aren’t willing to go on Twitter?”
Amanda Palmer

“Already I know that Songkick are speaking to Spotify and there’s ways that if people are on Spotify and listening to this music, they can find out when that band is playing. I think Songkick is brilliant. Things like that are hugely changing the way that we can connect with our fanbase. And Shazam as well, but if Shazam connected to Spotify, connected to Songkick… if they all connected to each other and then could give artists that information… then we could really be empowered and choose how we navigate through this brave new world.”
Imogen Heap

“Half of my income is from sales, but I don’t feel like streaming is the evil enemy. I think it’s a good, positive thing to get music out there. All I’m asking is to make a direct deal with me, let me choose my terms. Let me decide if windowing is good or bad, on my own terms. Work directly with me. The idea of how does a service like Spotify interact with a bazillion artists? That’s an administrative problem that technology could solve… And I’d like them to think more about are there any mutual services in the middle that can help the listeners connect with me to go to the concert.”
Zoe Keating

“While some of those claims [from the likes of Thom Yorke and David Byrne] could be lending themselves towards some truth, I think they may be off centre. Having this discourse is so important, it’s what drives things forward.”
Trevor Skeet of Spotify

“Say I was on CSI, I was a main actor on CSI, and CSI was distributed on HBO. The actors at CSI are not paying for CSI to exist. So when you think of Vevo and a billion views a month of independent artists or artists signed to a label, we have to pay for our videos to be on that platform… At what point in time does Vevo pay for the content that gives you the ability to put commercials that we don’t want before our content? And if we did want it, can we choose what brands come before or after our content when I’m the one paying for the video?! It’s a very very very very touchy subject which is not being talked about… The power has to go back to the artists. Somebody’s monetising it… Somebody’s making a lot of fucking money!”

“It is now an environment where the user chooses how they want to interact, and where they want to get it from… the reality is if there is a really popular band right now, the reality of the world is that more people want to watch their video than anybody else right now. But ever was it so. But the long tail is there, and much more accessible than it was. You had to go to a special record store to find what you wanted, but right now, everything is available, and that’s a good thing I think.”
Nic Jones of Vevo

“To artists, I’d say it goes both ways. The more accessible you can be to us as technology companies, the better. It’s actually a lot harder to contact an artist than you might think. Just make yourself more accessible to us, and the technologists that are artist-centric will come and find you.”
Ian Hogarth

This article originally appeared on EchoDust.com.

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