Posts Tagged 'Brian Zisk'

SanFran MusicTech Summit 4: Singalongs, Video Interviews, and Twitter Gossip

What started out as a seemingly humble local gathering of music and tech geeks has – thanks to its visionary founder, Brian Zisk, gained momentum and recognition and is now the premier event of its kind. For more on speakers/panels from the last three SanFran MusicTech summits, click here. To read my review of any of those three, see below:

SanFran MusicTech Summit 1: Rockstars, Lawyers, Nerds and Me
SanFran MusicTech Summit 2: Guestlist Wish, Artist Activism, and Label Survival
SanFran MusicTech Summit 3: Albums Die, Social Media Kicks Ass, and Songs Find a Home

Now, on to summit #4.

In the second review above, I put in a request for some sort of attendee list (using the Web 2.0 Expo’s use of crowdvine as an example), thinking that this would facilitate more effective networking. Let’s be honest, tech people aren’t always the best networkers. Well thank you Brian for listening to the suggestion! This event saw the introduction of SFMT’s very own crowdvine page! I’m curious to know whether people found it useful?

Speaking of suggestions, musician Chris Stroffolino (also featured in the video below) thinks there is room for a panel on the “fostering of connections between the already established live music scenes in the Bay Area, and the major labels and web-distribution networks.” Perhaps we’ll see this topic discussed further in the future.

Like a nice red wine, this conference is clearly getting better with age. With its shiny new reputation and rapt audience, SFMT attracts a pleasing blend of big names in the music industry, Silicon Valley thought leaders, social media celebrities, and starving musicians. Although, as attendee Kwan Booth points out, the conference overall was noticeably “light skinned and testosterone heavy.” I’m not sure how the demographic breakdown compared to past SFMTs, but it is certainly a good point.

Let’s make a collective effort to change that, shall we? All you minority and female music tech geeks out there: get on it! Next time we want to see you there.

Early in the day, the tone was set when musician Matt Morris, the first artist off of Justin Timberlake’s label, Tennman Records, asked the audience to stop twittering, put down their iPhones and close their laptops. And then proceeded to lead an audience singalong, which he promised to record and post on YouTube. Ah, music 2.0… Here it is:

That whole episode got me thinking about how busy we all are engaging with each other through technology all the time. So much so that we forget to engage with each other in real life. There we were, a room full of music fanatics watching a powerful new voice perform, and some of us were so busy writing witty tweets about the performance or sharing interesting facts about the performer, that we had to be reminded by the performer himself to pay attention!

Matt Morris also got some good face time in the NBC coverage of the event.

Whereas last time I focused on capturing the look and feel of the event through pictures, this time I went with video. All of the following footage was captured using one of those ghetto-fabulous flip minos and edited in iMovie.

Intead of reviewing topics covered, panelist cat fights, and the like, I want to provide a more haphazard organic insight into the experience. Here are a handful of tweets (search #sfmusictech on Twitter Search for more) that tell the story.

donald: Just posted my favorite takeaways from #sfmusictech 8:41 PM May 19th

MattMorris: My SanFran trip: met some cool techies (#sfmusictech), ate some good chowder, & had a Twitter name-change (@MattMorrisFeed to @MattMorris). 7:44 AM May 20th

SoulMajestic: Attended #sfmusictech conference in San Francisco. Digital is ruling. Must dig our music into the social networks. 10:46 AM May 20th

hansveld: If you’re in a band or in artist management you really need to check out and Very useful services. #sfmusictech 10:24 PM May 18th

KISSmyBLAKarts: Is this why Spears signed to Pepsi @Boothism tip:coke does background checks on every member of every band before they license. #sfmusictech 5:45 PM May 18th

denverdan4life: The gloves are coming out. I hope we see a fist fight over the fact that labels slept at the wheel for almost 10 yrs. #sfmusictech 5:16 PM May 18th

Boothism: true story: preparation H wanted to license “Ring of Fire” for commercial. Fail. #sfmusictech 5:11 PM May 18th

SocialSound1982: “The music industry is the world’s biggest law firm” – Jim Griffin #sfmusictech 4:59 PM May 18th

Thanks to Brian and Shoshana for another great event and I look forward to seeing you all at the next one!

SanFran MusicTech Summit 3: Albums Die, Social Media Kicks Ass, and Songs Find a Home

For those of us in the music tech space, attending an industry event can be a great opportunity for fruitful networking, a way to keep up with emerging technologies, and a place to learn from brilliant people. Or it can be boring and kinda pointless if not well run. Luckily for us, Brian Zisk has a knack for recruiting excellent panelists, solid sponsors, and exciting new startups to form the foundation of his SanFran MusicTech Summit.

Having attended both the first and second summits as guests, this time around MixMatchMusic was given a presentation slot. Booyah!

An obvious draw for this particular summit was featured speaker Stephan Jenkins, of Third Eye Blind, who had some poignant thoughts on the future of the music industry and the role (or lack thereof) of the album therein.

I heard mixed reviews of the panels overall, but found the ones I attended to be fairly compelling. In “Social Networks: Marketing & Entertainment” there was a heavy emphasis on the power of peer recommendation. As consumers continue to tune out traditional media such as radio and billboards they place more value on social media. When we were asked how many of us thought social networks will influence this year’s election, basically every hand in the room went up. Other topics included microblogging, the death of banners, and viral marketing. Cool takeaway for musicians: Use Pinger to group fans by area code and notify them of a show in their area by voicemail.

In “Building Social Networks around Music”, Rachel Masters of Ning noted that if fans are engaged they are going to buy more. She also said that every musician should have a community manager. This is a great tip. Musicians, or someone they delegate the task to ideally (so the musician can focus on making great music), should be using social media tools as much as possible to engage fans – by listening and responding to those fans and monitoring what is going on in their community and the culture that their music is a part of.

The best part of this summit was the “Special Presentations”. If you’re an emerging technology junkie you’ll understand. A host of interesting startups gave brief demos of their services and were met with a healthy mix of encouragement and skepticism from the audience. The most exciting one was Bandcamp (.mu not .com) – “the best home on the web for your band’s music”.

Rather than spending a grip of cash on a fancy band website for your music or having songs on a ton of profiles on other social networks like myspace,, and facebook, you can have it all in one place. They will be building out additional features later, but right now they focus on providing the following: ownership (your own design, logo, URL etc), speed and reliability, viral distribution, stats (who are your fans) and being “your fifth (very nerdy) Beatle” that handles everything in the background. And – it’s free. As far as selling your music you have a choice: give it away for free, set a price, or let your fans set the price. Pretty freakin solid.

Also noteworthy were Apture, which helps you “add multimedia to your site in one click”, and JamLegend (currently in private beta), the free online version of Guitar Hero. Speaking of guitars, near the end of the day, a Gibson and some other goodies were raffled off.

Overall, it was another solid event (go Brian!). The bay area locals who attend seem to be getting more and more well acquainted and there are always some guests from afar to spice things up. Then there is the cocktail party, where the tech nerds, rock stars, marketers, and their respective fans mingle. Always an interesting mix…

View more pics here.

Upcoming: SanFran MusicTech Summit 10.20.08

The SanFran MusicTech Summit is making yet another appearance next month (Oct 20th). If you missed the first two summits (which we covered here and here) and are anywhere near the bay area, I highly suggest you get yourself a ticket. (Or at least follow the live Twitter stream if you can’t be there in person).

Photo by Samantha Murphy

In their own words, the summit strives to “bring together the best and brightest developers in the Music/Technology Space, along with the musicians, entrepreneurial business people, and organizations who work with them at the convergence of culture and commerce.” Whether you want to learn about the evolving music industry from the people who are most entrenched in it, introduce your product or business to the audience that most needs it, or just be a part of the (r)evolution that is taking place, it’s a great experience.

Between the intense panels (some of which involve heated discussions analyzing complex issues and some of which simply celebrate the exciting innovations at the intersection of music and technology), the relaxed and stimulating networking opportunities, and the insane amount of intellectual and creative juices that are flowing, there is much to look forward to. Brian Zisk continues to impress with his increasingly popular and well-run event that is more relevant now than ever before.

So, what are you waiting for? Go buy your tickets here.

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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