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Thursday, October 6

Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit 2011

Washington D.C. Oct 3-4
The summit was overwhelming and exhausting and packed with innovative and forward-thinking industry folk, artists, and fans. One option is I could ramble about the details of the panelists and panels. Instead, YOU can check out the panel topics HERE

I’ll outline some highlights. Innovative tools, ideas, and people. These people have really taken a look at what’s missing and what would make being in the music industry at this point in the world a little easier and a little more engaging. Though I think we’re coming out of the limbo we were stuck in with the rapid change and widespread access of technology, I’m still not sure if any of these are long-term solutions, or just developments to help us along. Either way, take em for what they are, use the tools or just explore them, they’re creative and fun!
  • Thinglink. Thinglink uses images as an interactive medium. You embed an image at different points with forms of rich media: link to a song on soundcloud, link to the facebook page, embed a youtube clip. Great structure, allows users to be really creative with it (use it for storytelling, scavenger hunts, bringing the album cover back in an interactive way, and a cool way to integrate art and personality). Hovering and click rates are huge, the interactiveness allows familiarity levels with the product to jump. I don’t give a shit about Simple Plan, but I spent 5 whole minutes of my 2 second attention span exploring this image they did with Thinglink. The spokesperson at FMC, Neil Vineberg, reassured that it was always going to be free at least at some level, and right now there’s only the free option. It can obviously be used for any discipline, not just music. Anyways, something to think about and have fun with!
  • Bluebrain. (Info taken from press release) Bluebrain is a DC-based music duo who created the first location-aware album. The National Mall is a site-specific piece of music that responds to the listener’s location within the National Mall and is delivered as an app for the iPhone. Hundreds of zones within the Mall are tagged and alter the sound based on where the listener is located in proximity to them. Zones overlap in dynamic ways that, while far from random, will yield a unique experience with each listen....the album will vary based on the listener’s chosen path. I think this really questions how music can be delivered, and how to understand albums. It also gets people into spaces (C E N T R A L P A R K was released Tuesday), emphasizes using space non-traditionally, and provides a retreat from an urban understanding of a place. They said they hope that instead of people seeing it as a creative idea that has now been done, that people take it and improve on it, and they want it to be dated in 20 years. 
  • tracktrack.it. While still in Beta stages, this resource is for artists to upload and send files securely. Yes, it does similar things to dropbox, sendspace, etc. But it’s an extremely simple drag n drop, automatically attaches zip files, download link, or streaming player. It has a clean and clear interface. Tracktrack.it embeds a watermark that, even if this said person you’re sending your super secret music to cares enough to set up their computer playing the music while they’re trying to record it from another device to avoid a watermark, it doesn’t avoid the watermark! It’s still there! Tracktrack.it also tells you who listened and who didn’t, each person gets a slightly different link. If someone leaks these files, you will know who it is. It’s music only so far, they want to make sure they get one medium right before moving onto others. My only concern is that maybe people won’t accept the link since they know so much information will be shared. We did manage to talk to Zach Rogue (Rogue Wave) Tuesday night about it, and he said that tracktrack.it was one of the most exciting things for him to hear. he wants something reliable, that works, that’s clear and simple. He didn’t think anything out there has that yet, which is astonishing. 
  • The Local Matters: Music Scenes and Community Building panel + Rhymefest. So this panel is totally my thing. Mostly a discussion of various smaller scenes, how to promote and support local scenes, and how different cities were fuzing music, art, and activism. There were panelists from Denver, New Orleans, DC, and Chicago. Honestly, I thought this diverse representation could have been played up more (responses to questions were sometimes “we have a really thriving music and arts scene”...obviously. This is why you are on this panel.) There were some great ideas floating around though. DC had a day (yesterday, actually) where 30 coffee shops, restaurants, and boutiques paid a small fee to stream the albums of 8 local artists all day. Lots of talk about community radio. Chicago’s own Rhymefest was on the panel representing his place in hip hop, his run for Alderman of the city’s 20th ward, and bringing together consciousness, policies, and art. He was a really great representative on the panel and had some points that really stuck out throughout the rest of the conference. With regards to his run for political office, he noted that he got a ton of media attention for negative reasons: people expected him to fall on his face, and he had to answer to all rappers’ opinions. “I don’t know Lil Wayne, but I had to answer to all of his songs.” He shaped the media attention into a beneficial aspect of his campaign, emphasizing that artists should run for political offices because artists see things differently, and “we need creative solutions to common problems.”
  • CASH music. Actually, they weren’t physically represented at the conference this year, but had some talk behind them and is definitely something for artists to be aware of. (Info taken from website): CASH music is a non-profit that builds open-source  digital tools for musicians and labels. Their resources are free and open to all artists, and can be designed in partnership with the artists and labels who are members of their organization. The co-directors, developer, and entire board are really great people with a brilliant idea that fully supports artists and labels. We’ll keep supporting CASH music all the live long day. 

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