Get the app…Get on bits…Cover it…Check the remix. Cut the intro…Launch campaigns…Connect with fans…WTF is SoundExchange? These were the war cries of musicians in 2010.
Digital is the bomb. When I say ‘get on bits’ I mean get digital. Get on YouTube. Get on Facebook. Get indexed. Become bits. Bits outlive memories. Legacies live on bits. ‘All we are is bits in the cloud.’
In 2010, YouTube takes the cake as being the sweet spot for music. Their fact sheet reads currently that “people are watching 2 billion videos a day on YouTube” and that “52 percent of 18-34 year-olds share videos often with friends and colleagues.” Vevo, which launched in late 2009, saw screaming growth through 2010 largely due to its integration with YouTube. It’s pretty understandable why video is so engaging—it combines multiple senses: sight, hearing, and—if you’re pressing a keypad or touchscreen—touch. Triggering the brain from multiple angles makes for strong communication and vivid memories. Video influences people. Last month in Wired, TED curator Chris Anderson and Jon Chu talked about how access to free online video accelerates innovation. Chu used the example of kids who learned dance moves by watching videos of other dancers, “Kids in Japan are taking moves from a YouTube video created in Detroit, building on it within days and releasing a new video, while teenagers in California are taking the Japanese video and remixing it to create a whole new dance style in itself. This is happening every day. And from these bedrooms and living rooms and garages with cheap webcams come the world’s great dancers of tomorrow.”
“Mobile is no longer that thing you need to start thinking about in the next few months. It’s that thing you needed to be taking seriously yesterday. The iPhone is doing well and is very strongly rumored* to be launching on Verizon shortly. Android sales are absolutely booming. If you’re not doing something about mobile, you’re doing it wrong. There is so much good music out there—if you won’t go where fans are, they won’t think twice about dropping you for that other band that will.” –Steve Klein, Sound Around founder, now w/ ReverbNation.
Seeing a live show is an experience—it’s not a product, but that’s not to say that it can’t be captured on one. Ask Aderra, a company who “records live concerts to flash drives and MicroSD wristbands which are available to the audience immediately after the performance.” Their USB drives can also be used to access exclusive content on the web. It’s important to realize that experiences have more intrinsic value than products.
Get right to the hook. Two time lessons in 2010 were seconds and clicks. At NMS NYC 2010, Jay Frank (@futurehitdna) said that artists have, “10 seconds to engage someone—to impress them.” He said to “clicks to content,” because the more clicks it takes, the more it’s bye-bye attention span. In a way this explains the addiction to YouTube, whose videos are one mere click beyond Google search results. “Anything more than two clicks and you’re missing out on the majority. … Impress them fast.” If you’ve made it this far into the post, you’re a champion, and deserve a video for the rest of the ride.
Expect to see more mashups based on music APIs. Most notable IMO are mashups built on APIs from The Echo Nest and from SoundCloud. The Echo Nest is a data-driven startup that launched in 2008. Its platform is in use on MTV Music Meter, MOG All Access, Indaba Music, Bandintown, exfm, and more. Based on data from Compete, web visits to SoundCloud were up 850% in 2010. A number of apps—many mobile ones—support integration with SoundCloud. Keep Grooveshark on the radar, their web visits were up 235% based on Compete, and unofficial Grooveshark API documentation is available on APIshark. The Grooveshark library is also accessible through the Tinysong API. Spotify too has potential for a mashup explosion. See the API list: 30 Music APIs.
“I want a bass player who can fix the van. I want a keyboard player who can screenprint some shirts. I want a drummer who can shoot some video, throw it into iMovie, and put a YouTube thing together—second largest search engine now—and fuckin’ sell some more tickets. I want a lead singer who can shag the world.” –Martin Atkins at NMS NYC 2010.
There are several events/ticketing services out there beyond Ticketmaster/Live Nation, such as Eventful, Songkick, Ticketfly, and Live Music Machine. Ticketing is mysterious and because of that I think less music startups have gone in its direction. But live music is really what music is all about, and I think we’re going to see a lot more action in this space, especially when more people have smartphones and are using location-based apps. But the question I’m asking about ticketing is, ‘what could possibly stop Facebook from wiping away the entire online ticketing industry with an official ticketing service within Facebook Events?’
“Facebook will have a killer music section. Why? It’s simple. Time spent on site. Music is the best way to increase the amount of time that users spend on Facebook. When Mark Zuckerberg talks about reforming the content industries in five years, this is what he means. Music is vital to making people stay on Facebook longer. This is why 30 to 90 second song previews in Facebook apps aren’t enough. ” –Kyle Bylin, Editor, Hypebot/MTT, in this article
I’d like to write about licensing, but it’s just so boring and complicated, still, in 2011, and this article is already way to long for the YouTube Generation. I do think something about the licensing needs to change, especially in the U.S. where “WTF is SoundExchange?” is the typical reaction, and many musicians believe that receiving payouts from rights organizations is a straight-up myth—it’s not, but setting it up may melt your brain. For now what I think is worth knowing is that the majority of money that SoundExchange pays out comes from Pandora. So if you’re on Pandora, then you definitely want to be registered with SoundExchange. If you’re asking “how do I get on Pandora?” then read this. First, push to the end of this article. You made it this far. I promise you it’s worth it.
If you asked Austin Powers what he thought about the internet, I know exactly what he would say..: “it’s freedom, baby, yeah!” His nemesis, Dr. Evil, would be saying “throw me a frickin’ bone here!” Who would you rather be? Free is the nature of the internet and what makes it such an advance. If you’re not embracing that free spirit, then you’re in the wrong industry. It’s like the accelerated innovation I mentioned at the start of this rap. Everyone is building on each other’s work. It’s human nature. Pablo Picasso would tell you that “good artists copy—great artists steal.” Picasso didn’t become famous by making a few great paintings. He became famous by making thousands of them. He only sold the ones that he needed to, keeping the rest in his possession, and nowadays I can’t help but wonder if he’d be getting them on bits. Really it comes down to more than creating fresh music, but being innovative on every front, and living it. That, my friends, is art. // @ryanve