"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Technology
February 15, 2011

iMusic Presentation

Last week I presented at the iMusic event here in Hong Kong. Here’s what I spoke about.

I’ve had a few requests to post my presentation from last week’s iMusic event. It has been a long time (eight years in fact), since I used any slides in a talk. Anyway, since there was no video, here’s the guts of what I discussed

On the night I was following Casey Lau’s presentation on music and social media – showcasing the different kinds of platforms and services available to musicians today. Casey’s talk was refreshing and cut to the point, perhaps because he doesn’t come from a music business background. Rather, he approached the challenge musicians face from the perspective of a digital entrepreneur. This reminded me of what Hugh Macleod made in response to my comment on his piece about Social Objects.

Welcome to the future of the music business, Fernando. where musicians stop emulating stadium-era rock stars, and start emulating web-savvy entrepreneurs.
– Hugh MacLeod

The iMusic Presentation

I started by talking about the problem musicians face of where to share their music online. Musicians need a platform that makes it easy for fans to preview and listen to music. Musicians also need a platform where they can share news, updates, and build a connection with their fanbase. A few years back the obvious answer seemed to be MySpace.

However, MySpace has been in a death spiral for a while now. All the professional musicians I know have either pulled their MySpace presence (as I did), or have it managed for them by someone else, since it’s no longer important in their marketing strategy.

A number of sites have arisen that allow musicians to move on from MySpace. My favourite is SoundCloud. A SoundCloud account gives you a clean looking space from which to share your music, either publicly or privately.

Whereas MySpace was built on the idea of many individual static homepages, SoundCloud is more of a social network, where people find your content on a variety of platforms (blog, Twitter, Facebook, smartphone apps, RSS feeds). Fans “went” to MySpace to surf for music, whereas musicians “share” their music out from SoundCloud. SoundCloud makes it easier to share your music on social networking platforms, or via the customisable (and good looking) players on your own site.

Don’t MySpace Yourself

This is, to me, a crucial point. As Caren Kelleher said on Digital Music News, “…if Myspace has taught us anything, it’s not to put all your fans on one site unless it’s your own.” These platforms will rise and decline and it makes sense to ultimately move our fans onto our home page. We need look no further than Grammy winners, Arcade Fire for confirmation of that approach (and other smart musicians are doing the same).

One of the great things about SoundCloud is the ability to share fresh work. You can post clips of gigs or work-in-progress in near real-time. During iMusic I created a basic song on my favourite iPad app, the Korg iMS20, then sent it up to SoundCloud.

But, rather than listen to my experiment again (you can check it out here), take a look at this great Daft Punk cover using the iMS-20.

Dreams Do Come True

So there you have it. Making music on a handheld computer and sharing it globally, direct to fans, over a wireless computer network. When I started recording music as a sixteen year old never in my wildest dreams would I have believed this would be possible. As a musicians and Sci-Fi fan this is the perfect fantasy come true.

UPDATE: In 2019 I quit using SoundCloud. You can read about that decision in detail here.

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