SanFran MusicTech Summit 2: Guestlist Wish, Artist Activism, and Label Survival

Brian Zisk has done it again. After the wildly successful SanFran MusicTech Summit last February at Hotel Kabuki, he rallied the troops for round two of what I hope will be a regular event going forward. The first Summit, which I reviewed here, set the bar high. What a brilliant meeting of minds from the music and technology industries!

Through a mix of thought-provoking panels on new technologies, heated group discussions about the future of (online) music, and lots of giddy lobby schmoozing, this event provides its very diverse attendees with a plethora of opportunities to learn, contribute, and meet resourceful people.

SanFran MusicTech Panel

Photo by Crazywanda. Some rights reserved.

For the virtual comment box, here’s a suggestion: How bout a list of attendees on the website? (Yes, there was a Facebook page you could RSVP on, but not everyone on the planet uses Facebook. Silly planet.) A simple list of attendee names, companies, and titles would be great.

The Web 2.0 Expo brilliantly utilized Crowdvine to set up a social networking site for their event. Here, you could create a profile, view other attendees and ping the people you wanted to meet. Consequently, my first day at the expo was consumed by meetings with some very cool people. Though randomly networking is great, it would be awesome to knows who’s gonna be there beforehand. Brian, whadya think?

My co-worker had the idea of placing RFID tags in everyone’s nametags so you could track people’s whereabouts throughout the day and find those you need to meet, but eventually we all agreed that would be too creepy…”Hey man! Saw that you were in the bathroom, so I thought I’d come introduce myself…” Ha.

At the Artist Activism Workshop Mike Relm, Chris Skarakis (founder and VP of Music at Fuzz), and moderator Erin Potts (Executive Director of Air Traffic Control) discussed how artists can be activists using new technologies. Very inspiring.

Mike Relm, whose live shows feature audio/video mashups “manipulated in real time with a turntable-like device” [Wikipedia] showed us a powerful Katrina video with vivid images, music, and video clips that he made to raise awareness of the disaster.

I so love where this trend is going. There are obviously a ton of ways to get involved in your community or on a more global scale, but musicians are in the perfect position to make a real difference due to their visibility. As much as we (and especially Actual) hate on American Idol, I have to admit I was impressed by how much money they raised during their Idol Gives Back special ($65 million or something, right?). At least they are doing some good with the massive captive audience they have…

But no matter how big or small your reach, there are always ways for musicians to get involved. And organizations like Air Traffic Control, Project Noise and Axis of Justice to help you on your way.

At the Record Labels and New Technologies panel, I walked in anticipating an hour of (big) label bashing, but was quite mistaken. Rather than harping on why big labels are evil and how they are all going to disappear, the consensus seemed to be that record labels are not going anywhere. They are, however, changing. Drastically. Whereas a new artist used to need a label to even get started, now the label has a very different role to play. Turns out that independent labels are actually doing quite well – at least the ones that have found innovative ways to market their bands online. Dave Allen, of the Gang of Four, pointed out that artists and their labels should keep the end user in mind and what most end users want is at least 1 free mp3, not DRM, and the ability to play music on different devices. Dave also has a great music blog, Pampelmoose. Check it out.

In between panels and meeting new people, we also ran into our friends Todd Tate (co-founder of Angry Coffee and now one of our rockstar MixMatchMusic beta testers), Hannes Hesse (the Bubblegum Sequencer guy), and my hero Tom Conrad (CTO of Pandora) among others. One of our guys was chatting with Vince Wilburn, Jr., nephew (and spitting image of) the late Miles Davis (and accomplished drummer and producer)! Seemed like a very cool guy.

All in all, another rockin Summit. Great job, Brian!

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8 Responses to “SanFran MusicTech Summit 2: Guestlist Wish, Artist Activism, and Label Survival”


  1. 1 Tony Stubblebine May 12, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Glad you liked the Web 2.0 CrowdVine. We have a simple free version for things like the MusicTech Summit. Glad to provide some support to any of the events you go to. Just make an email introduction.

    BTW, my father is heavily involved in retro-music-tech:
    http://www.tapeproject.com/

  2. 2 Sandra Possing May 13, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    @Tony Stubblebine – Thanks for your input! I will introduce you to Brian. Your father’s tape project thing looks pretty sweet…I’m glad there are some people involved in preserving retro music tech stuff and keeping the history alive.

  3. 3 dangrsmind May 14, 2008 at 5:54 am

    Any mention of the proposed music tax at the summit? I haven’t seen any mention in any of the coverage about it.

  4. 4 Sandra Possing May 14, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    @dangrsmind There may have been some discussion in one of the panels I didn’t attend, but personally I don’t remember anyone mentioning it. Are you referring to the taxing of ISPs?

    Here are some links that might be helpful:

    http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/28/the-music-tax-details-of-the-plan-they-dont-want-you-to-know/

    http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9905952-7.html

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080225/094249346.shtml

    http://blog.wired.com/music/2008/03/music-gets-one.html

    http://www.last100.com/2008/03/28/will-2008-be-the-year-of-the-music-tax/

    Where do you stand on this issue?


  1. 1 International Music Spotlight: Ugandan Hip Hop « .Evolving Music. Trackback on May 21, 2008 at 8:55 pm
  2. 2 Upcoming: SanFran MusicTech Summit 10.20.08 « .Evolving Music. Trackback on September 24, 2008 at 8:05 pm
  3. 3 SanFran MusicTech Summit 3: Albums Die, Social Media Kicks Ass, and Songs Find a Home « .Evolving Music. Trackback on October 22, 2008 at 5:22 pm
  4. 4 SanFran MusicTech Summit 4: Singalongs, Video Interviews, and Twitter Gossip « .Evolving Music. Trackback on June 10, 2009 at 1:44 pm

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