LAUREL CANYON—“Nielsen today reported that U.S. digital album sales are up 15 percent year-over-year, continuing an upward trajectory …” ( 10.2.12)
Here I thought Neilsen was only about TV show ratings. I had a lot to learn which I did when I covered the Digital Music Forum West held at the Roosevelt Hotel. I was alerted to the Forum event though it’s the 9th annual event, via the grapevine in Laurel Canyon, when the hosts, Digital Media Wire, sent blasts out to local musicians giving them a heads up for the event. Thinking about it, I realized that over time I’ve met many as a Laurel Canyon musician hanging out at Lilly’s at the Canyon Store. After all there have been two books entirely devoted to musicians doing their creative thing in Laurel Canyon. It all made sense that this forum should be held nearby.
I checked in and looked over the program. I’m not a hip music person, but looking at the titles of the topics and the impressive collection of speakers I was intrigued. One Panel discussed the question “Is YouTube Good or Bad for the Music Industry.” Other panels addressed Fixing the Copyright Laws; another was directed toward Monetizing Music; the conference covered technology; and what was the next thing on the horizon.
I’ve been to plenty of conferences, but this one was a sharp scalpel peeling away and identifying the issues where music meets technology. Industry leaders such as Steve Raymond of Big Frame and Nick Adler of Stampede Management took the stage. The speakers were eloquent in describing the technology in play which had been panned as breaking the backs of musicians. They were equally clear on how they had developed software and implemented strategies whereby musicians and management has taken back the reins from the wild west on the internet.
So who was the target audience when the stage was filled with luminaries? This was a chance for the music industry insiders to come together, share their knowledge, and if you ask me, to confab about how they were going to take on issues. Only weeks after the conference YouTube announced it had implemented an appeal process for material taken down via Content ID, YouTube’s own copyright protection system. Uploaders can now appeal a takedown, and the content owner on file can reply.
The other part of the conference was clearly dedicated to technology. The speakers were keen on getting out ahead of the technology. Only a few years ago what seemed impossible has become passé. The buzz was all about social media. These people were not talking about dabbling - they focused on using it as the backbone of a musician’s marketing campaign. This represents a revolution in how bands are marketed. In fact, to the right of the speakers was a 20’ high screen which scrolled posts/tweets from wanting to chime in; references and resources to the discussion topics. With the press coverage and the stature of the speakers I’d be shocked if that screen did not represent communications with 500,000 people.
Of course I needed a cyborg translator to know that #FF in the tweet means Following Friday.
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