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A Song and Dance at the Microsoft Apartment

Last week I attended a very exciting event at the Microsoft Apartment in Victoria – a panel discussion with music leaders from Deezer, the Music Managers’ Forum (MMF) and the Featured Artists’ Coalition (FAC), as well as Dave Rowntree from Blur and Nate James, who talked about how technology has changed the way he makes music before singing us a couple of songs to close the event.


I seemed to be one of the only people in the room who didn’t work in the music industry, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have an interest in it. Believe it or not I moved to London 9 years ago with the intention of becoming a music journalist when I finished university. But life’s rich tapestry wove a different path for me and I never ended up fulfilling that dream. Fast forward years and I’m quite happy with being a consumer of music, rather than working in the industry. It is still incredibly important to me and the event really got me thinking about how much the industry has changed even since I was a wee nipper.

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So, what was the first record I bought? I remember it clearly – Erasure, Always (don’t laugh). I was 4 years old and I had access to my brother’s Walkman and I would play the cassette, both A and B sides, over and over on my way to school. I remember the bright green sticker on the cassette so clearly. I loved it. As I developed, so did technology. Soon I was carrying a Discman around with me and a few CDs to change when I got bored of one, making sure I walked as smoothly as possible as I didn’t want it to skip. When I was a teenager I won an in car mini disk player, which my brother stole off me but mini disk never really took off. Then one day I discovered something called Napster. I spent hours and hours in my bedroom as a teenager illegally (unbeknown to me) downloading anything I could think of. I have to admit that my music taste was pretty appalling and I’m not willing to admit what files adorned my hard drive. That all went belly up and steaming sites arrived on the scene – ones that you had to pay for. And here we are. I have dabbled with 7″ and record players in my time, have owned an iPod Nano and countless CD players. But almost all of that has now disappeared and instead I live with the music player on my phone and a handy subscription to a streaming provider.

I was intrigued by the event as I wanted to hear the views of those in the industry and it was interesting to hear their thoughts on how it has changed and whether they think it has been beneficial, or not.

Key quotes from the event

‘The constant in pop music is that it’s a technology industry and always has been. Every generation has their own technological revolution. In my day compact cassettes were thought to be the threat to the future of music. The revolution today is streaming.’Dave Rowntree, Blur, on technology’s active role in the music industry.

‘There’s a challenge of a big amount of data being overwhelming. The great thing we can accomplish with technology is to connect people that curate music and find those jewels from around the world, making sure that artists are heard, so that we connect the right fans with the right music.’- Gerrit Schumann, VP of Deezer, addressing some of the issues that technology has thrown up.

 ‘I can just record a melody on my phone using Voice Recorder at any time, go to the studio, plug it into the system and press play and the producer has the chords there straight away’Nate James, singer-songwriter, discussing how technology has made the creative process more simple.

‘At this point in time, what’s very interesting is that the advances in technology are changing the ways in which musicians create and actually make their music. Now the tools are in their hands for producing what’s in their head, and allowing that to come into reality.’ – Paul Pacifico (Manager of the AllStars Collective and board member of the Featured Artists Coalition) 

‘Fans today want and expect direct relationships with their artists. All of those aspects of that relationship are facilitated by technology. Artists are able to engage with fans, and fans to engage with artists in a way that just hasn’t been possible in the past.’Paul Pacifico, manager of the AllStars Collective and board member of the Featured Artists Coalition.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts – have streaming sites such as Spotify and Deezer mean for the industry? What is the way forward? Do you think that technology has watered down the industry and is there now too much average music available for the masses? Does it mask the talented musicians that are making good music?

Photos by Paul Wesley Griggs

For more information on Microsoft music apps, click here

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